Thursday, July 20, 2017

Favorites - Best Animated Versions of the X-Men Part 2

Here are the rest of list from a couple days of ago. Not only are there heroes, but there are some villains.

If you think I’m not a fan of ‘ole Slim, you’d be mistaken. Someone cool had to start this part of the list off! Cyclops is more or less accurate in all three shows. The 90’s show is probably the one is most comic accurate since he’s leading the X-Men, married to Jean, ticking off Logan, and being a little uptight at times. On X-Men Evolution (EVO), Scott led the team into battle and was pretty cool at times. As for the Cyclops of Wolverine and the X-Men (WATXM), he was a little off the rocker. Since Jean was presumed dead, he quit the team and only came back because Logan asked him to. Even though he’s not leading the group, he does get a few moments to shine in the season.

It’s kind of easy to throw Scott in the “overbearing good guy who never breaks the rules” group. To be fair, it’s not a bad thing for him since I’d follow him into battle. The problem is that he really doesn’t come off as cool to most folk. While I liked Cyclops from the 90’s show, he was a little lame at times. Also, his voice actor was okay. Then, we get to WATXM’s Cyclops who was pretty much depressed all the time. I know he’s been at that stage in the comics too, but the creators go overboard with it on the show.

This is why I choose Cyclops from EVO. When re-watching the show, I really thought he was a cool guy. He could even have a little fun from time to time. You can’t say that about the rest of the Scotts. While throwing him and some of the others into high school was a weird move, I think it helped me like the character a little bit more. We got to see him grow into one into being a good leader. Yeah, he’s not butting heads with Logan over Jean (that would have been creepy…), but everything else worked.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Favorites – Best Animated Versions of the X-Men Part 1

You know, there is something missing from TV these days: an X-Men cartoon. While I can’t call myself an uber-fan of the X-Men these days, I can still say that they’re one of my favorite superhero teams. A lot of that fandom mostly stems from the many animated shows. Heck, I think I could almost recite a lot of the dialogue from the 90’s show’s first season. If only I could put that type of power towards something truly worthwhile…

Anyway, ever since Wolverine and the X-Men ended, we’ve seen less and less of them on TV. While the movies are still coming out and there are live-action shows coming, even I’ll admit that they get it wrong at times. The animated shows were able to capture more of what the X-Men were all about. Plus, they knew how to have fun and that is something the movies still struggle with. The X-Men (Wolverine at least) will pop in every so often on some Marvel show but that’s it. I think even Deadpool is supposed to get his own animated show. I bet someone’s happy about that!

So, what are these posts all about? A while back, I was wondering about which X-characters from the cartoons were done the best. I considered everything from the stories to even the voice-acting. Since most characters don’t crossover to different shows, I’m keeping the list to only a few heroes and villains. I’m also only including X-Men (the 90's show), X-Men: Evolution (EVO), and Wolverine and the X-Men (WATXM)I know there’s an X-Men anime from 2011 out there, but I’ve never seen it. Besides, something tells me that those versions of the characters probably wouldn’t make it on here anyway. Also, this isn’t a competition in which show was the best. I felt that these three shows had some great strengths as well as some unfortunate weaknesses.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Movie Talk - The Amazing Spider-Man Duology

After finishing Mass Effect: Andromeda (I’ll talk about that soon), it’s time to get to these two movies. We’re this close to another Spider-Man movie coming out. The first reactions are out and they’re saying that it’s good. I probably will see it. Since some critics I follow have said good things about it, I may do it.

Last time, I looked at Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy. While its last movie wasn’t good, it was cool revisiting it. When I heard that Sony was going to reboot Spider-Man, I was kind of shocked. While Spider-Man 3 was a disappointment, you’d think that Sony would continue with what they were doing. Unfortunately (for most fans), that wasn’t meant to be since Sony and Sam Raimi couldn’t agree on what to do next. When Raimi left, Sony went on and decided to reboot the whole thing with a new origin and new actors. Director Marc Webb was brought on to direct the two movies.

The Amazing Spider-Man was released in 2012 while its sequel, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, was released in 2014. I didn’t see any of these movies at the cinemas. I almost saw the first one in theaters, but I think I was already off the Spidey train at that point. I did eventually see bits and pieces of it on some cable channel one night. As for TASM2, the word of mouth kept from that one. I still remember Spoony’s epic 2 hour rant about the thing. By the way, whatever happened to that dude? Anyway, I finally watched these movies over the week.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Movie Talk - Sam Raimi's Spider-Man Trilogy

So, we have another Spider-Man reboot coming out… yay? I guess someone was praying for another one to be done. All I can tell you is that it wasn’t me and now I have Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me” playing in my head again. I’d probably be happier for it if they didn’t push back Black Panther. Yeah, I’m still going to bring it up! Seeing that awesome trailer has me even more irate as well as happy! Thanks, Marvel!

Since we’re coming upon a possibly *spectacular* time for Spidey fans, it’s time to finally talk about Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy. Originally, I was supposed to have talked about these movies years ago. When The Amazing Spider-Man was going to be released, I was planning on doing it. I even had a themed month with him and Batman at the same time. I don’t remember why I didn’t talk about them. I guess had too many things on my plate.

I don’t remember when I saw the first movie. I know we had rented it at Movie Gallery at one point. Now, I vaguely remember when I first saw Spider-Man 2. It was during my freshman year of college. MTSU was playing it at the KUC for a week, I believe. It ended up being a solo trip for me one night. As for Spider-Man 3, I also saw it on campus. I don’t know if MTSU has it anymore, but they used to have a channel that would play movies that were just released. I think I started to watch it around the point where Peter and Harry had their first fight.

I have to admit that I haven’t seen much of these movies since then. I think the only one I’ve really watched in the last few years has been Spider-Man 2. While I am a fan, I haven’t been into Spider-Man much these days. I'm not sure what it is. Since it’s been a while, I decided to watch all three movies over the week. A lot has been said about them, so what can I add?

Spider-Man was released in 2002. We should all know this story by now. Peter Parker, a nerdy high school student, gets bit by a genetically engineered spider on a field trip. The bite gives him extraordinary powers. He tries to use them for selfish gains but that costs him dearly. In order to live up to his Uncle Ben, Peter decides to fight crime as the Amazing Spider-Man. Thugs aren’t the only thing he’s facing, though. A new threat called the Green Goblin starts to terrorize the city. Peter does what he can to keep the city safe and tries to get close to a certain redhead.
Hmm... I give it a 8.

It was nice to revisit this movie. I was worried for a second since most movies tend not to age well. Luckily, that’s not the case here. While it’s not perfect, Spider-Man was a good, fun movie. A lot of it has to do with the cast and the story being told. It’s one of the best origins in comics, so you know it had to be done well. We get to see Peter grow into the role of a superhero throughout the movie.

Even though some may think otherwise, I thought Tobey Maguire did a good job here as Peter/Spider-Man. He wasn’t a chatterbox, but he brought the character to life everywhere else. The rest of the cast did a good job for the most part. William Dafoe especially brought it as the Green Goblin and J.K Simmons’ Jameson was a hoot. I did like the romance between Peter and MJ even though I wasn’t the biggest fan of Kirsten Dunst. The action scenes were pretty spectacular. I liked how Peter’s powers and costume were translated to live-action. The music score from Danny Elfman was also really good.
Hey, Osborn! Try doing that against the rest of the Rangers!

There isn’t much to dislike about the movie. Of course, it’s not a perfect one. There was some acting that didn’t always work. I also wasn’t’ that big a fan of Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane. She wasn’t bad, though. Also, you did have some effects that looked a little off then and now. Finally, what was up with Green Goblin’s costume? I did like the armor, but that mask was kind of crap. Other than those things and some small nitpicks, this was a good start to the franchise.

Spider-Man 2
Spider-Man 2 was released in 2004. It takes place two years after the last movie. Peter is having problems balancing his professional life, his personal life, and his hero activities. His relationships with Harry and MJ are on the rocks. He also starts to experience some strange things with his powers. Meanwhile, Doctor Otto Octavius is experimenting with a new power source. When something horrible goes wrong, his mechanical arms get fused to his body and he ends up going mad. He then goes into a life of crime as Doctor Octopus and tries to finish the experiment he started. Peter must do what he can against this new, powerful villain and save the city.

Some have said that this is one of the best superhero movies ever. I don’t if I can say that yet but I can say that this movie is really superior to the first movie. Not many sequels can pull off that. It pretty much continues some of what was set up in the last movie. Peter’s life and relationships are struggling because of his extra activities. He’s also living in a rundown apartment now. It’s here where a lot of big stuff happens with Peter, MJ, Harry, and even Aunt May. Let’s just say that the story really surprised me when I saw it in 2004.
Doctor Octopus: A babysitter I would not hire.

The cast is on fire once again. Maguire and the rest do a tremendous job with what’s given to them. Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus was another highlight. I liked the wrinkles Raimi gave Octavius in that he was a bit sympathetic. The romance between MJ and Peter was also pretty good and I though Dunst was better here. The action scenes are pretty astonishing. Spidey’s and Doc Ock’s subway fight is still one of my favorite throwdowns of all time. As usual, Elfman’s score still hits all the right notes. The intro scene was especially cool because we got key moments from the previous movie drawn by Alex Ross.

There really isn’t anything wrong with the movie. For once, everything gels perfectly here. There aren’t even some bad special effects or bad acting. You might have a couple of plot points that don’t make sense but that’s really it. I can see why people say this movie is one of the best. Overall, it’s awesome and if you haven’t seen it, check it out.

Spider-Man 3
Spider-Man 3 was released in 2007. It takes place some time after the last movie. Right now, things are actually going good for Peter. He’s being more respected as Spider-Man, he’s balancing things better, and he’s finally gotten with Mary Jane. So, you know it’s not going to go all well for the Parker boy, right? Now that he knows Peter’s identity, Harry Osborn finally comes after Peter because he believes  Peter killed Norman Osborn. Also, it’s revealed that a man known as Flint Marko killed Peter’s uncle. Then there’s Eddie Brock, a guy gunning for Peter’s job. Then, throw in some black alien symbiote that attaches itself to Peter. Then, thrown in a new possible love interest named Gwen Stacy and you have one bloated movie… no, I’m not showing all my cards on how I feel about this movie.
"And on that day, Peter knew he really screwed up. Also, what is Gwen even doing here? I mean, she's kinda hot but..."

Well, “Third Movie Syndrome” had to hit the franchise eventually. While there are some decent things here, this is a really flawed movie. I was worried about how I would view this film now. Shockingly, it’s not that bad at first. It actually starts out pretty well for the first couple of acts. It’s not perfect, but it’s at least decent. I did feel that everyone tried their best with the script that was used. While I still think Topher Grace was a little miscast as Eddie Brock, he at least tries. I’ll give him that. The scenes at the Daily Bugle were also pretty funny. Also, it was cool to see a darker side to Peter. Too bad it wasn’t handled well at times.

The action is about on par with Spider-Man 2. The fights between Peter and Harry were cool and pretty brutal. I especially liked that they weren’t always fighting in costume too. While Sandman’s character was poor, his power set wasn’t. Both of his early fights with Spider-Man were good especially the underground fight. Spidey (in the Black suit) wasn’t playing around. While the final fight was pretty cliché and not built up well, it was cool seeing Peter and Harry take on Venom (no comment) and Giant Sandman. While Danny Elfman isn’t back to score the film, I thought Christopher Young did a fine job carrying the torch.

Well, that’s all the good praise I can give it. The thing that hurts the movie is the script itself. They just threw too much stuff into this one. You had a lot of plots going on and most of them didn’t get fleshed out much.  The relationship between Peter and MJ was actually pretty poor. I liked the idea of Peter’s life going well and MJ’s going through some stuff. Unfortunately, it’s not written well. Including Gwen Stacy here was nice, but not much was done with her. There were also some really cheesy moments. While the franchise has had campy moments, the bar scene and couple of other stuff went too far even for me.
Oh dear...

We had three villains who were really given the short-shrift. Some of Harry’s story could have been handled better especially that scene with his butler. By the way, that was horrible. While having the butler say something to Harry was a nice idea, it was executed badly. The amnesia angle was cliché but I get why it was there. Sandman was okay but bland when compared to previous villains from the franchise. At least he was acted well. Plus, his transformation scene was pretty good.

Then, we get to Venom. Excuse my French, but what annoying jackass thought throwing him in at the last second was a good thing? Wait, I know that question:  Avi Arad. Apparently, Raimi was forced to put the symbiote and Venom in and it really shows. It’s like they don’t belong in the film. When Eddie gets the symbiote, which looked pretty cool, the movie goes downhill even further with that weird team up and final fight. It’s sad because Venom is one of Spidey’s best foes. Why throw him in at the last second instead of giving him his own movie? I mean, come on!
What's worse is that he actually looked good!!!

Overall, this is one flawed movie. It’s not horrible like most folk say, but it is far from good as it can get. What’s worse is that the problems could have been fixed. The cast, the effects, and the director were there. All they had to do was get rid of a couple of elements and have things make more sense. Heck, look at the previous movies for evidence! Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be which makes it all disappointing in the end.


In the end, two out of three good movies isn’t bad. This trilogy may not be the best, but it succeeds more than it fails. I definitely recommend the first two movies. If you want to do it, check the third movie and see what not to do with your superhero franchise. I wonder what a fourth movie would have looked like. Even though Spider-Man 3 wasn’t well liked, it did make a lot of money. Raimi was even working on a new movie but he had a falling out with Sony. Instead of carrying on, Sony decided to reboot it with 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man. Just guess what’s next up. Until then, Peace and God Bless.

The only time Spidey should do any dancing.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Random Thoughts On... Star Trek: New Frontier Books One through Four

Well, I’m to my last post for the Sci-Fi Month... and it’s June 1st. At least I have an excuse with the trip and my time at the Renaissance Festival. As usual, it’s been cool getting back to doing regular posts. There were a couple of things I couldn’t get to, though.  Since I’ve touched on all the current Trek shows and movies, I think my last post should look at a lesser known crew: the crew of the USS Excalibur.

Some time ago, I talked about the first book to Peter David’s Star Trek: New Frontier series. For those who don’t know, Peter David and John J. Ordver put together a concept about a crew that wasn’t tied to what was going on in the movies and TV. At that time, DS9 and Voyager were on. You also had the TNG movies. David took a few unused characters from TNG and mingled them in with new characters of his own. David has had written them in novel form and even comic book form. From what I can tell, it’s actually still continuing. The latest book (an eBook) was released in 2015.

I don’t remember where I first heard about the series. It may have been on Two True Freaks but I’m not sure. All I know is when I read the first book, I really got hooked into checking them all out. Unfortunately, I haven’t done much of that reading. I stopped after reading the fifth book in 2014… sorry, Pete. I did lose a little interest since I was trying to find them all. Since there’s already so much stuff to see and read, they got literally put in the closet to make for more book space. I want to get back on this horse eventually, so I just want to talk about the first four books in the series.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Random Thoughts On... The Watchmen

Next up for the month is a return to the comic world. The 1980’s was a time where comics began to change. You do see some changes in the 70’s, but the industry really goes through them in the 80’s. We got event books, a total revamp of a universe, and two stories that changed the way creators tell stories in the comic medium. Whether these stories were good or bad for the industry is a debate unto itself. One of them was The Dark Knight Returns, a story that really brought the edginess back to Batman. The other story and the subject for today is Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. It’s a story that I think is good… if a little overrated.

While I wait for legions of Alan Moore acolytes to chastise me, I thought I’d just talk about the story in general. For those aren’t familiar with this story, here are the simple points. Watchmen was a 12-issue maxiseries that was released from 1986 to 1987. It was written by Alan Moore and drawn by Dave Gibbons with John Higgins as the colorist.  It takes place in an alternate version of 1985 where Richard Nixon is still President of the United States. While there are government superheroes, other vigilantes are outlawed because of a law called the Keene Act. Moore takes these characters and explores them through a variety of ways.

I think I first learned about Watchmen during my time in college. That was when I really started to dive into comics. Plus, the movie was being talked about at that time. I already knew about the story before I even read the trade. I’ve really only have read the whole story a couple of times with my most recent read being a few days ago. I actually didn’t own a copy until a few months ago. As you can probably tell, it’s wasn’t high on my “must-read” list. After reading it this last time, I think I was a little wrong to have it that low.