Wednesday, January 9, 2008

I Am America (And So Can You!

Stephen Colbert is funny. I feel this is a generally acknowledged fact. He's smart and funny, which makes him great, and this book is a fine example of that. I say "fine" because it's not a great or phenomenal example, but it's fine. Stephen Colbert really plays up his close-minded, arrogant conservative character quite well, but mostly goes for easy laughs based on the pure irony of everything he says. That's not to say it's not funny--Colbert is very clever (I especially enjoy his editorial comments throughout) but as much as I enjoyed it, I couldn't help but think that it was all too....easy. Everything he said was obviously meant to be ironic, and as a result, succeeded in getting a silly smile out of me. Still, I would have liked to have seen him take his Conservative character even more over the top. I feel like any Conservative, close-minded American-pride-driven meathead that reads this will get that it's a joke, and enjoy it and laugh at it just as much as I did. However, I would have enjoyed it if it were written so that those meatheads actually sympathized with Colbert's character. Then arrogant Liberals like me could laugh at them and assert our self-important superiority over their simpleton minds that just "don't get it."

Aliens vs Predator Requiem

I saw this movie. I paid $10.25 to see this movie with a friend from home strictly for the novelty and nostalgic value. This friend was my default geek out/super hero/action movie friend since childhood, and considering our mutual childhood fascinations with the first two "Aliens" films and the first Predator one (Predator calling Ahnold a "Mother fucker," his only line in English, before blowing himself up, was BADASS), we knew we had to go. Surprisingly, we were not the only people in the theater-there were 4 others. That means that on this particular Wednesday, 6 people paid $10.25 to see this movie. And I thought I was ridiculous.
The point of this is not to justify my actions, of course, but rather to review the film, so here it goes: it was perfect. And by that, I mean, the film was absolutely everything that I expected it to be. A hackneyed plot full of delightfully uninteresting horror movie archetypes and tons of death and gruesome action. I found myself wondering what writers got hired to write a film like this, because it really can't be that difficult (at least, from a writer's perspective). I also found myself debating whether or not I would write a film like this, given the opportunity. I'm sure it pays rather handsomely, and requires minimal effort beyond regurgitating Hollywood stereotypes, but I'm not so sure I'd want my name attached to a film like this. Everything that you expected, pretty much happened as the formula would have it. Even the "hero" of the invaded town was beautiful cliche--an ex-con named Dallas, wearing a leather jacket, who eventually acquires one of the Predator's weapons and saves the day. There was even a shady government figure and military cover up. I couldn't have asked for anything more.
Except better lighting.
I understand the importance of low lighting in horror films to build suspense--its a lot scarier to imagine something than it is to see it, and no matter how good the visual effects may be, they will never be as graphic as your imagination might have it. In order to heighten the suspense, however, the audience still needs to see something. Case in point: The big selling point for this film was the appearance of the "Predalien," the Alien-Predator hybrid. We've all seen Aliens and we've all seen Predators, but this thing was new. Unfortunately, I have no idea what it looked like beyond the Predator jaws and the goofy-looking dredlocks that bounced behind his head. I wasn't sure what color it was, or if the thing had claws, or the double-mouth, or what. It was too dark, so much so that I stopped caring whenever the Predalien appeared. Along the same lines of atmospheric decisions and cliches, a ravenous downpour fell upon the town at nightfall, following an otherwise beautiful Colorado day, to heighten the horror movie suspense. Where did all those rain clouds come from?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Nightwing #139

I started reading Batman strictly because Grant Morrison was writing it, and its been great. I decided to collect the entirety of the 'Resurrection of Ra's Al Ghul" storyline because I could, and because Grant's Batman was involved.
Unfortunately, it's been kind of dull. This was one of the better issues, however, where Robin, tempted by Ra's Al Ghul's offer of resurrecting his lost loved ones, tries to take a sample from the Lazarus Pit-simply put, Nightwing doesn't like the idea, and lets him know that Ra's is, in fact, and evil tempter. The back-and-forth between Dick and Tim is great, and really demonstrates the maturity difference between these two Robins, and culminates in a powerful moment for Tim Drake, a boy who has felt otherwise inadequate as of late. I-Ching also adds some delightful cheeky Zen one-liners into the mix to break up the tension and the back and forth.
The end of the issue had me excited for the final resolution of this crossover, however-is it wrong that I'm kind of starting to develop a crush on Talia Al Ghul? I don't want Batman's sloppy seconds....

Booster Gold #5

I'm not a very big DC fan. I think it's generally too full of cheesy sci-fi goofy super hero names and concepts (weakness by the color yellow? WTF? and whats with all this multiverse-reset crap, anyway?)
This is exactly why I should hate Booster Gold, and exactly why I love it.
Booster Gold takes all this ridiculous DC concepts, and makes them even more ridiculous, while imbibing it with a sense of humanity through its phenomenal cast. In this issue, Booster Gold is sent back in time to prevent the Joker from crippling Barbara Gordon, Batgirl, forcing to become Oracle-a crucial point in DC History.
Well, Booster fails. He can't rewrite history. And he tries; a lot. In fact, there's a phenomenal sequence of Booster going back, getting destroyed by the Joker, and being saved by Rip Hunter just before he dies, and then demanding that he go back to try again, until Rip simply won't allow it. All of this to prove a point: Booster can't save Ted Kord, his best friend, the Blue Beetle, because some things in history were meant to happen.
In this issue, we also get to meet our antagonists for the first time, with wonderfully ridiculous DC-type names that get me excited. We're also treated to an interesting variation on Rip's earlier claim to make us want to read the next issue.
Booster Gold is almost like a very human DC super hero parody, and that's why I love it. Furthermore, every single issue stands alone-they contribute to a larger story, but anyone can pick up any issue and figure out whats going on. There are no 4-to-6 part "story arcs," just some good ol' fun.
I wish we got to see whats up with Daniel this time though...

Wolverine #60

Straight-up: I hate Howard Chaykin's art. Everyone's chin is too big and square, and everyone looks the same. And Wolverine's arms are way too short and stocky. This issue actually bothered me the least so far of all of this Wolverine comics, but I still think it looks like something a nine-year old version of me, jacked up on Rob Liefeld and Jim Lee comics, would draw.
Too bad Marc Guggenheim's story is phenomenally captivating, touching on a ridiculous amount of Wolverine's history and making it all flow together seamlessly through a domino effect which leads him to present. At first, I wasn't so keen on the mysticism of Wolverine slaying Azrael, the Angel of Death, in combat in World War I, and the battle-in-his-soul that he must fight now every time he 'dies.' Once Gorgon and the Hand came into play, however, in addition to this whole Scimitar schism, I was sucked right back in. And the twist at the end of this is going to keep me going. Guggenheim has a great voice for Wolverine, and further perpetuates the notion that some kind of outside force has always been trying to manipulate him (and not just in this "Romulus" kind of way). Guggenheim did his research when he started writing Wolverine, and I'm excited to see how it pays off.
(PS-I totally think that Shogun is Azrael. Or else our visitor at the end. Just sayin')

X-Factor #26 (Messiah Complex Chapter 7)

I really don't know what to say here. Messiah Complex has been awesome so far, and PAD is, as always, pretty great. He touched on almost every important beat and brought things a lot further-tension between Cyclops and Xavier, the new X-Force (and Warpath's relationship with Cable-poignant Father Figure motif coming into play!), even Predator X. My favorite scenes were Jamie and Layla in the future, which hasn't really progressed that far until now. PAD even takes the opportunity to create even more intrigue surrounding Layla Miller, who apparently does not show up as a mutant on the scanners in the future, but then does-sometimes. There's a good example of a character that I love enough that I don't care that I know nothing about her other than the things that she has said (which may or may not be lies).
As an always-avid Cable fan, I was really excited to find out about the role that he's playing in this crossover. However, I was a bit taken back last issue by Cyclops's assumption that Cable betrayed the team, and his impulse to hunt down his own son. In this issue, we get a little battle between Cable and The Reavers/Lady Deathstrike. We don't get to see how Deathstrike got from DC to Canada, or how she knew where Cable was, or even that he had the baby, and worst of all, we don't hear anything from Cable. 2 chapters after the reveal, I wish we'd at least get some insight into the character and his motivations.
But here's hoping that Cable and Gambit have some crazy big plan in mind that's going to blow us away.

Simon Dark #3

I picked up issue #1 on a whim, and I was intrigued, so I picked up #2 with the same result. The story is compelling, the art is perfect (although panels of movement can often seem a little stale), and so, here I am, at issue #3. I'm kind of mad of at myself for liking this to be honest, because I still have no idea what's going on, or who Simon Dark is. We get a bit of a dream/flashback sequence in this, but we don't know if its real or just some fabrication from his obsession with books. I'm really intrigued by this character, and I'd love to see some strange kind of matriarchal relationship develop between Simon and Rachel Dodds. On the other hand, so much of the story focuses on Detective Tom Kritts and the mortician, and while I've enjoyed their story beats, I want to see more of Simon. I'd like at least something about him to be revealed soon, or else I'd like to see him capitalize more on his literary fascination, maybe by quoting from Poe or re-creating scenes somehow.
However, eyeball guy? Gross. Also intriguing, but gross. And Kritts smacking his eyeball? Awesome.