spreading the talent

Pick Of The Week

Review: Son Of Batman

Son-of-BatmanAfter the abomination of Justice League War, my hopes were teetering with this dc animated movie. Thankfully, I found that they redeemed themselves here. This review will have some spoilers, so if you are looking for my graded rating, skip down to the last paragraph, because spoilery begins here. Animation and sound seemed flawless, so I’ll break the movie down by character and focus on the plot points with them as a whole.
Ra’s Al Ghul: I have to say that I was slightly disappointed in his arc.  I had always been under the impression that the Lazarus Pit could heal any wound.  Yet he dies in the first five minutes of the film.  His grandson and daughter show up minutes after he is burned to death, mere feet from the Lazarus pit, and they didn’t push him into it.  Okay, maybe Damian tried, but I don’t see why Talia wouldn’t have.  Instead, she stopped her son and said that Ra’s is dead.  I found this as a flaw that isn’t forgivable. Otherwise, his swordsmanship was fun to watch in his battle with Slade.  It just would have been nice to see a little more back story between the two.

Damian Wayne / Robin: Damian is the perfect material to be a Robin right off the bat. (Pun intended).  He’s got an attitude, skills, and the brains suited to make a great sidekick to Batman, but he still needs guidance as he lets brash decisions take over his actions.  He grows in this movie from being a rebellious child into understanding (slightly) the error of his ways.  Arguably, you could say that Damian in this movie is on his way to becoming the best Robin yet.

Slade Wilson/Deathstroke: Slade has become one of my favorite characters of all time.  Between watching the original Teen Titans cartoon from a few years back, and now with Arrow, Deathstroke time and again proves to be a mastermind villain.  He takes down the League of Assassins with his own league of mercenary ninjas, and single handedly defeats his old master Ra’s Al Ghul.  My only problem here is that I really wanted to know more about WHY he wanted to take over the league.  He could have just formed his own, or perhaps come up with another plan, but there really wasn’t much as to why he was doing what he was doing other than he thought he was more worthy of the mantle that had now been passed down to Damian by Ra’s.

Killer Croc: okay so he was only in it for five minutes, but I’m sort of glad.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Croc as a character, but this design is downright awful.  I understand he was on a new steroid that caused him to grow a tail, but it was just bad.  Was he a problem for Batman?  Yes.  But I just can’t get the fact that he looked like Lizard from The Amazing Spiderman.

Alfred Pennyworth: After seeing what they did with Alfred in Beware The Batman, I’m glad they took a step back and made him what he is known for in this movie.  He played a great supporting mentor role to both Batman and Robin.

Dr. Kirk Langstrom / Manbat: More like Man Bats plural.  Langstrom being kidnapped and forced to work by Deathstroke was a great story line, but I have a slight issue with the many Man-Bats.  I was hoping to just see the one best Man-Bat as him, but instead we had ninja MenBats.  I’m not saying this was a bad thing, it just wasn’t up to par with how I would have liked to have seen him portrayed.

Dick Grayson / Nightwing: His role here is perhaps just as important as Damian’s.  He arrives as sort of a guide to Damian, even though at first he believes he is one of the badguys.  They butt heads quite a bit, but being the original Robin, for him to finally accept Damian in the role just proves that the younger of the pair is meant to be in that costume.

Commisioner Gordon: For the first time in a DC animation, I didn’t feel like the Gotham Police department were all that useless.  Did they do much?  no.  But Gordon seemed to have his head on his shoulders realistically and I can’t wait to see if they continue down this route with future DC animations.

Talia Al Ghul: Talia has always been a problem for me, but not necessarily all in a bad way.  In this movie she hasn’t changed the way I feel about her, so here are my thoughts as a whole.  I HATE the fact that she kept Damian from his true father for all this time, and then just leaves him in Bruce’s hands.  BUT I love the dedicated and badass person she is.  The scene in the beginning where she is just kicking ninja ass all over the place shows why there is such an attraction between her and Bruce, but still I’m torn.  Part of me likes her and part of me can’t stand her.

Bruce Wayne/Batman: We didn’t see too much of Bruce to judge his role, but as Batman the part was nailed.  There isn’t much else to say here.  Batman lived up to his namesake yet again.

All in all, I was pleased by Son Of Batman.  Deathstroke escaping from his fate might be impossible, but We’ve now got a suitable Robin in the DC animated universe, and Nightwing as well.  If they were to do a Batman Incorporated movie, this is the way to kick a few stones in that direction.  I give Son of Batman 6 out of 10 sCrypt Coffins mainly for animation and voice direction, but also because it was enjoyable.  It would have been higher if those few plot points were tackled in a different manner.  I recommend it to any Batman fan.

 


Book Review: The Granny Cop

It’s not often that I do an actual book review, but coming from Philadelphia and knowing quite a few police officers, this one caught my attention.  “The Granny Cop” is the true story of Philadelphia’s own James McGrath.  He was dubbed the “Granny Cop” because he would walk the streets dressed as an elderly woman for the Philadelphia Police Department Stake Out unit.

James was a highly decorated Police Officer in his hayday. During his career, he made over 125 arrests. Over 50 of those arrests were made while he walked the streets as the “Granny Cop”. James was awarded the Medal of Valor from the city of Philadelphia and the Police department, the highest award. He has been on TV and radio talking about his experience.

With a foreward by Frank Rizzo, and tons of scans of actual newspaper articles, I found this book a fun read, and am impressed at what this man did to help rid the streets of scum bags.  Move over, “Big Momma’s House,” because James McGrath is the real thing.

To find out more about James and his magnificent career, I recommend checking out http://www.grannycop.com.  It has more details on where you can purchase the book, merchandise, and includes some cool extras.


Review: Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier

captain-america-the-winter-soldier-600x375This review will be filled with spoilers and major ones at that, so if you just want my overall non-spoilery review, scroll down to the last paragraph, otherwise you’ve been warned :)  Also, if you are a fan of the Agents of SHIELD show, then I advise you stop watching it now until you see The Winter Soldier.  It changes everything.  On with the review.

Where do I even begin?  Great comic book movie?  yes… Great action movie?  yes…  Greatest action movie of all time?  Maybe…  You can tell where I’m going with this.  There is not much (other than the suspension of disbelief) that is not great about this movie.  Sound, music, dialogue of characters, plot, Everything was nailed perfectly.  Slight issue?  well, let’s just say some of the things like Captain America breaking his fall with a skylight and his shield probably wasn’t realistic… let’s just say that the pounding his brains took from Winter Soldier’s bionic arm probably would leave his brain in mush…  let’s just say that Falcon jumping from a building and perfectly landing in a tilting helicopter without being chopped into a million pieces, falling to his death, or breaking any bones is probably not realistic, BUT… it is a comic book movie, so that kind of nitpicky stuff is allowed in small doses.

Let’s touch on the characters:

Captain America/Steve Rogers: Chris Evans really makes this character likable and realistic.  It is as if Cap has jumped straight from the books onto the screen.  His dedication to his country, and defending what is right, while maintaining his core values is what makes him so perfect.  Some of his fight scenes were a bit too “Bourne Identity” for me, where the camera was too shaky or close, but there was enough choreography in them, that you still got to see plenty of great action shots.  What really hit a soft spot for me was that this out of place guy finally begins to feel at home and make new friends (Sam Wilson), and then his past comes back to haunt him.  What he deals with physically only shadows in comparission to his mental struggles.

Black Widow/Natasha Romanov: Scarlett Johansson is gorgeous, yes, but she really stepped up the game here with her acting ability.  I originally was opposed to her being in this role, as I didn’t think she fit the profile, but she has redefined the character while staying true to the comic book roots.  Her role in this movie alone put her on an almost equal playing field with Chris Evans.  She was basically the sidekick with tons of screen time and a great purpose for being there.  If you even noticed, she had an arrow necklace around her neck that she wore, hinting at the relationship her and Hawkeye have.  It will be interesting to see where she goes in future movies now that everyone knows about her shady past.

Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes: Sebastian Stan had such a minor role in the first movie, but now that purpose has been revealed.  They did the Winter Soldier justice by making him a deadly threat.  A little foreshadowing to the character’s future was even thrown in when he stood holding Cap’s shield.  (in the comics Bucky becomes the new Captain America after Steve Rogers “dies”).  He plays a deadly villain, and his look was perfect.  The bionic arm was really cool, and better than what I’d pictured from reading the character, and his realization at the end of his past was the perfect set up for the next movie.

Falcon/Sam Wilson: Anthony Mackie took a second rate character and amplified him to stand with the top brass.  I always liked Falcon, but after this movie, he no longer stands as a B character for me.  The lack of red and white in his “uniform” is fine with me because the wings he had were designed like a military design.  Since they were destroyed, and he is moving on with Cap to the third movie, I only assume they will probably paint his wings a more vibrant color.  Time will tell, but the hunt for Winter Soldier is on.

Maria Hill and Nick Fury: Faking deaths, finding the moles, and doing what they do best all came into play here.  Fury’s “death” was a bit far fetched for me, as he is very lucky to be alive.  I do like that he programed (I only assume) his bad eye into the system as a backup plan to take down Pierce’s operation.  Hill’s role, although smaller, supported him, and at the end we even get a glimpse of her at Stark Towers.  Maybe they are setting up a new SHIELD now that it has fallen.  And what can I say about Nick Fury without a patch now?  I’m cool with that.  He doesn’t need it with the shades.  Oh, did anyone else notice the Pulp Fiction quote on his headstone?

Sharon Carter/Agent 13 & Peggy Carter: I’m glad they closed Peggy’s story here.  Hayley Atwell is a wonderful actress, and the makeup and CG of her elderly self was convincing 100%.  Sharon being introduced as a potential love interest for Steve was a welcome addition too.

Alexander Pierce: I half expected Robert Redford to rip his face off and reveal that he is the Red Skull, but I’m SOOO glad they didn’t go that route.  Skull still exists, we know that.  The character of Pierce was a good way to show a reflection on today’s society.  He reflected as many politicians in office do today.  people think they are good, but have ulterior motives.  To hear Redford say “Hail Hydra” sent chills of excitement down my spine.  It was perhaps the BEST moment of the movie because of delivery alone (and the fact that Redford will not say any lines that he feels are ridiculous).  Clearly he approved.

Arnim Zola: Okay, his role was brief, but that’s all it needed to be.  Like his comic counterpart, he uploaded his awareness into machines.  Yes they were destroyed, but do you think he is dead?  I don’t.  Remember, they grabbed the flash drive, and I’m sure he downloaded himself onto there or somewhere else.  He was connected to a network after all.  The way he was designed was really cool too.  I do believe he will be back in some form.

Agent Sitwell and Senator Stern: I never liked Sitwell as a character, and Stern was Gary Shandling’s character from the second Ironman movie.  I’m glad they were revealed to be Hydra operatives, because I most likely wont have to see them again.  (no offense to the actors)  I like Shandling a lot, and I think Hernandez acts well, I just was not keen on the characters.

The Leaper/Georges Batroc:  Remember what I said about Falcon being a B rate character upgraded to an A?  Well it applies here too.  The intense fight scene and brief subplot with Batroc upgraded this lame D rate character to a B in my opinion.  I’d like to see him appear in Agents of SHIELD to follow up with his role.  I don’t think he belongs in any more big budget movies, but they should follow up with him.

Brock Rumlow: He was badass, and dedicated to Hydra.  With him being badly scarred at the end, I can only assume that this was a setup for him to return in part 3 as Crossbones.  (Crossbones btw was the one who killed Captain America in the comics).  It is fitting for him to do so in Cap 3 so that Bucky can take over.

Stan Lee: Always a welcome cameo, so I had to include him.  Do you think he lost his job at the Smithsonian?

Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver & Baron Wolfgang von Strucker: What a mid credits scene this was.  The Baron apparently has been trying to use Loki’s staff to control others with abilities.  He mentions the others died, and that the two in the cage were Miracles.  Trial and error to make the staff work right?  Who knows… all we do know is that this sets up all three of their roles for Avengers Age Of Ultron, and after seeing this scene, I am even more eager to see Age of Ultron.

Stephen Strange: Okay, so Doctor Strange is not IN the movie, but his name was mentioned as a potential future threat to Hydra, hinting at what we are going to get at some point in the near future.  Awesomeness.

So there you have it.  My little breakdown has come to an end and definitely had an impact on EVERYTHING in the Marvel Movie universe.  If I gave Avengers the score that I did, then I can only rate this on even playing ground.  Avengers was the perfect movie, but a lot of that thrill and excitement I think comes from seeing all of those characters on the screen at a time.  With Captain America The Winter Soldier, it not only redefined an entire movie universe, but set a standard for action movies and comic book movies alike.  Will the sequel stand well against Batman vs Superman when they are released on the same dates in 2016?  I absolutely think so.  I personally will be seeing both, and can’t wait, but DC really needs to step up their game to keep up now, and I hope they do because I enjoy DC and Marvel.  Cap 2 gets 10 out of 10 sCrypt Coffins from me.  I’m not sure anything could have been done to make it better.


Review: Avengers Confidential Punisher and Black Widow

Marvel-Avengers-Confidentials-CoverI won’t get too wrapped up in spoilers, but there will be some spoilery things in my review, so if you just want my rating, skip down to the last paragraph now.  Unlike MOST of Marvel’s animation, this one looked and felt great.  I’m a huge Punisher fan, and enjoy the way that he was brought into this and represented.  That being said, I’d still like a solo Punisher animation that really does him justice.

Animation breakdown – The animation in this was outstanding.  The Japanese style art flowed well and although the characters had certain characteristics that felt different from the traditional versions we are used to, everything worked.  One flaw I did find was that in the beginning of the movie, the Punisher broke a man’s arm and hand violently…  Two scenes later, that man’s arm was in a sling, only it was the OPPOSITE arm that had been broken.  I don’t know if the frames got reversed or what, but this was an amateur mistake that was very noticeable.  There were also a few scenes where Black Widow’s breasts looked extremely large and not fitting with her look in other scenes, but that was brief.

Voice acting – I’ll just say that I was convinced that these were real character voices.  Excellent job by the cast and voice direction.

Plot – The story was original.  It was refreshing and really showed the turmoil that goes through Frank Castle’s (and even Black Widow’s) minds.  They are a perfect team up because their pasts are so hazy on the “right side of the law”.  My big problem?…  The campiness in parts.  The hacker kid working for SHIELD was stupid.  I didn’t buy it, and it was unnecessary and annoying.  As for the Avengers showing up, that annoyed me too.  It felt forced.  Sure, there was a need for them at that point, but it seemed more like a SHIELD operation than an avengers gig, and yet there they were.  Oh, and the kid was dangling from Hulk’s back too like a school bag.  dumb.  I also felt that the villains were forced as well, but on a good note at least they forced both sides and it balanced out.  They also didn’t overshadow what Punisher and Black Widow were doing either.  They both got to take down the main threat.  Just when I was getting irritated at Natasha telling Frank not to kill anyone, he did deliver the final blow in tradition Castle style.

Music and sound – meh.  I’m neither happy nor upset.  It seemed like a metal techno soundtrack, but it worked.

Overall rating… This is perhaps one of the BETTER Marvel animations yet, despite its flaws.  If you don’t like the two main characters though, you won’t like this movie.  I’d like to see if they continue on with it from here and do more Avengers confidentials or a follow up Punisher animation.  Call me satisfied, with some complaints.  6 out of 10 sCrypt coffins get awarded to this one.  What are your thoughts?


More toys for your kids

photoLast year I introduced my son to action figures, and the year before that, my daughter began collecting figurines to play with.  When I was a kid, I recall wanting more characters than I had, but was always satisfied with what my parents had been able to afford.  Then there was the occasional figure that came in a cereal box or a happy meal toy.  Those figures were redundant to me, and I often used them as clones or dopplegangers.  Now that my kids are in the same boat, I got to thinking.

My mind went to work and I began using model paints to alter the appearances of them.  After all, most comic characters have some similarity with others.  Because it is model paint, it is best to use a flat paint, as glossy tends to chip off easier.  Keep in mind that it might not be possible to get the costumes exact, but you can fake it, and they’ll love it.

Anyway, here are the repaints I did for my kids (the original figures that I used are double characters, so they still have the original characters in their collections):  Robocop 3.0 (a repaint of an old 1980s Robocop), The Penguin (a fisher price figure that had no use otherwise), Brainiac (repaint of Lexcorp guard), Beta Ray Bill (repaint of mini Thor figure), Red Lantern ship, (repaint of Aia Green Lantern ship),  U.S. Agent (repaint of Captain America), Sinestro (repaint of green sinestro), Professor Zoom (repaint of The Flash), Merlyn The Dark Archer (repaint of Green Arrow), Impulse (repaint of Kid Flash), Antman (repaint of Spiderman from a gumball machine), Krypto (repaint of Fisher Price Dog),  Red Hulk (repaint of Hulk), Scorpion (Repaint of Noob Saibot), Scarlet Spider (repaint of Spiderman), Chameleon (repaint of Noob Saibot), Owlman (repaint of Batman), Ultraman (repaint of Superman), Power Ring (repaint of Green Lantern), Shazam aka Captain Marvel (repaint of Superman), Silver Surfer (repaint of Iceman and I also cut a board out for him from fiberglass sheeting), Rainbow Sherbert (repaint of Blueberry Muffin), Ginger Snap (repaint of Orange Creamsicle), Ironclad (repaint of Sandman), Pip The Troll (repaint of gumball machine Nightcrawler), Grey Hulk Mr Fixit (repaint of Hulk), Bumblebee (Repaint of Wasp Heroclix), Frosty (Repaint of Strawberry Shortcake), Apple Dumplin’ (repaint of Strawberry Shortcake), Cyborg Superman (Repaint of Superman), Iron Patriot (repaint of Ironman), Dark Fairy (repaint of Tooth Fairy), Black Flash aka Death Racer (repaint of The Flash), Hydro-Man (repaint of Sandman), Glinda the Good Witch (absent from pic but I repainted Sofia the First for this), and Bear-Bear (a repaint of Winnie the Pooh and a mini version of my daughter’s favorite stuffed animal).

So there you have it.  Its an easy way to show your love without breaking your wallet.  The kids get excited and it gives you an accomplished feeling as a parent.  What are your thoughts?  Have you done something similar for your kids or even yourself?


Review: Justice League War

Justice-League-War-2013-Movie-PosterDC comics has put out some of the BEST animations dating all the way back to Batman The Animated Series.  Sure there have been a few duds here and there, but overall they’ve been nice.  Here’s how I believe Justice League War fared.  Be warned… There ARE SPOILERS AHEAD!  If you don’t want to be spoiled, scroll down to the final paragraph for my rating.

Where to begin?  How about voice acting?  Batman was a bit different than normally, but I liked what was brough here.  The new voice is easily catchy and works well.  Darkseid’s voice was perhaps the BEST in a long time.  I loved how the gravelly look of his skin sort of echoed through his booming voice.  Other than those two, I didn’t feel anyone stood out as different enough to mention or necessarily bad, so once again I give Andrea Romano my approval for voice casting.

Animation:  The new 52 outfits were okay.  I didn’t mind the modern look, but I did have a few things that bothered me.  Parademons looked like garbage, as did Cyborg’s initial design.  I wanted to know what was going on.  My son was confused as well, and said, “Daddy, that’s not Cyborg.  It’s a giant robot.”  My daughter, more fascinated with Wonder Woman wondered a few things as well.  One of her comments echoed in my mind before she said it.  Wonder Woman didn’t look all that beautiful.  I’m not saying she has to be a sex symbol, but Wonder Woman is supposed to appear pretty.  I get the amazonian warrior thing, but to me, her face wasn’t animated all that well.  At least not as good as past interpretations.  Some of the CG didn’t gel with the animation in parts of the battle, but overall the animation wasn’t bad.  I had more of a problem with the designs than anything.

Story:  Sigh.  I now know why people despise the New 52.  This was NOT a good story, and had many flaws.  First off, why was a Parademon dressed like Batman in the beginning?  It made no sense and was ignored throughout the rest of the story.  Then Wonder Woman again.  I know she’s new to our world and customs, but damn if she didn’t seem like an idiot.  If a tempermental and ill educated 16 year old (not an Amazonian leader) wore the wonder woman attire, that is what you’d have here.  Flat out?  She seemed like a moron with a teenage crush on Superman because he was “so strong.”  Green Lantern’s outbursts were another thing.  I know Hal Jordan is a sarcastic and cocky guy, but this version of Hal was not very bright despite his emerald glow.  Even with an untended broken arm, he was going to go back into battle against Darkseid… oh, and since when did he know how to set a broken limb?  I didn’t know that the green Lantern ring could perfectly set broken bones too.  Then there is Superman….

So Superman now just attacks people he doesn’t know?  Green Lantern and Batman were immediately perceived as threats, and he damn near tried to kill them.  Speaking of, he killed Desaad (the Emperor Palpatine look alike) with a neck snap.  WTF?!   And Billy Batson is now a punk thief who just so happened to shout “Shazam” as he was going to bludgeon a parademon.  Oh, right, I guess Captain Marvel (Shazam) is now just an accidental origin that suddenly knows how to be a hero.  Wisdom of Solomon or Wit of bad writers?  I’m going with the latter.  I wasn’t aware he could shoot lightning from his hands now either.

Flash, Batman and Cyborg were all good in the movie, but as I mentioned I hated Cyborg’s initial design.  Darkseid was less threat and more destroyer however.  I enjoyed seeing him destroy everything, but he seemed too powerful to allow a stab in both eyes.  Yes, they stabbed his eyes out.  Common sense would tell you that Wonder Woman’s first sword thrust into his right eye would also shish kabob his brain judging by how deep the blade went, but I guess Darkseid has no brain now either.  The other question is if Wonder Woman and the others don’t hesitate to kill the Parademons, why wouldn’t then they just kill Darkseid too.  They could have at this point… instead they stuck a crowbar in his other eye.  Ugh.  Should I continue?

Oh yes, then Cyborg (who basically is one of Darkseid’s computers at this point) closes the portals to Apokolips, but upon closing them, they act as black holes, but they only suck in the Parademons.. nothing else.  No cars, nothing.  Just Parademons.  The final battle against Darkseid was weak too.  I felt as though I was watching 7 Ghostbusters try to wrangle a ghost into a trap with their combined crossing of streams.  Oh wait, that’s another franchise.  And don’t get me started on that Super 7 comment.

Yes, I’ve become increasingly angrier as I’ve written this just thinking about it all.  Maybe it was because I just reviewed JLA Trapped In Time as well.  One GOOD thing that can be said is that there was a post credits scene that showed Ocean Master rising from the depths with a dead Atlantean in his arms.  I guess this means we are getting a New 52 shared dcanimated universe now.  I am eager to see an Aquaman stand alone animated movie that follows this up, but I really don’t care to see this League again on screen unless something is done to correct the monstrosity that was War.

I feel as if DC has hired a bunch of high school kids to do their work at this point.  Poor dialogue and a shoddy plotline scream inexperience and lack of care.  Call me extremely disappointed.  3 out of 10 sCrypt coffins is all I can give this one, and the animation is really why I rate it that high.  What did you think?  Did you agree or do you feel my review is too harsh?

 


Five reviews in five minutes

I’ve fallen behind in my blogging duties, so I figured I’d play catch up by doing a quick set of reviews, and then get back to working on the other projects at hand.  Warning, there will be some spoilers ahead.

Kick Ass 2Kick Ass 2: While I thoroughly enjoyed the first Kick Ass movie, I was torn with this installment.  Half of the movie, in my opinion, was atrocious, while the other half was exactly what the title says “Kick Ass.”  I almost lost interest a few times, but then was surprised by a lot of what the first one had going for it.  Acting wise, I think the cast was overall decent.  I just think at this point that I’d rather see a Hit Girl movie, as she was really the focus of my interest.  The character is so messed up and conflicted, but it works well.  Don’t get me wrong, the other characters are great, but the whole thing with Kick Ass joining a group of wannabe heroes seemed too far fetched for me.  I realize it is a comic book adaptation, but it seemed like they were stretching.  I enjoyed the consequences of everyone’s actions.  Police chasing down costumed vigilantes made it feel like a real setting, but the end battle with a warehouse of heroes and villains was more a color show of costumes than actually feeling like a realistic battle.  It was very anti-climactic.  Do I want a sequel?  Yes.  The end credit scene made me say “Okay, I want to see what’s next with Hit-Girl, Kick Ass, and the Mother-F$&#er.  All in all not the worst comic book movie, but certainly not the best.  I give it 4 out of 10 sCrypt coffins.

 

Red 2RED 2: A highly underrated film in my mind.  RED 2 was an equivelant follow up to its predecessor.  It actually gave me interest in picking up the graphic novel for which it’s based.  It was campy in spots, but witty campy.  John Malkovich had me laughing every time he was on screen, but it wasn’t just his show.  The rest of the cast really had great screen chemistry with a good story.  Anthony Hopkins stepped into a delusional type of role, which proves that even at his age, he is willing to try something new.  I recommend both this and RED 1 for anyone who enjoys a good action movie, that doesn’t take itself too seriously.  I give it 6 out of 10 sCrypt Coffins.

 

jla-trapped-in-timeJLA Adventures: Trapped In Time:  This is a last minute Target exclusive aimed toward younger comic audiences.  It brought back some nostalgia of when I was a child, as it felt like an updated version of the old Super-Friends cartoons.  (Coincidentally, there are 2 bonus Superfriends episodes with the special features).  For the price, it was worth it if you have children.  If you are a fan of the normal animated DC movies; however, I recommend skipping it.  Here’s why.  The story first of all, is a good concept, but there are too many loop holes opened.  Granted, this is bound to happen with a time travel element, but the loop holes are so big that a lot of the movie doesn’t make sense.  I did like seeing the Legion of Doom battle against the Justice league, as well as the addition of Karate Kid and Dawnstar.  Voice acting was subpar, and the movie ended with a cliffhanger that will anger me if I don’t see what happens.  This should not happen in a movie I don’t find entirely enjoyable.  Maybe I’m being too picky.  The good news is that my son (he is about to turn 4 years old) LOVED it.  He set up his own Justice League vs Legion of Doom scenario afterwards.  Look, the movie was obviously a tribute to the past (pun intended), but unless you are under the age of 12, I don’t think you’ll find it that great (because of the plotholes).  I’ll give it 3 out of 10 sCrypt Coffins.

 

legoLEGO Marvel Superheroes (videogame): LEGO has continued to pump out video games that contain endless hours of amusement.  Getting the rights to use Marvel characters instantly had me thinking…. They did DC, and now Marvel?  Maybe we will get a crossover game (because let’s face it, that’s the only way we will see the two rival companies on screen together).  Anyway, like LEGO Batman 2 DC Heroes, this game has a very open world environment where you travel to each of your mission points.  The story involves SHIELD directing the heroes to stop Loki and Galactus.  Even after the main plot, there are other sub stories around the map.  I’ll tell you this… If you have never played a LEGO game, then it is worth unlocking EVERYTHING in the game.  There are cheats that you can earn by going to Deadpool’s room in the Helicarrier, and while I don’t normally like to cheat in a game, it is the only way to earn money faster, which you need to unlock everything.  Oh, so what do you get for 100% completion?  Well aside from the over 150 selectable characters, you get Stan Lee himself (yes voiced by him too).  He is as entertaining as Deadpool’s commentary, and his powers?  well, it is worth you earning him to see just what he can do.  The DLC for the game wasn’t worth the purchase in my mind, as I got everything I wanted and more.  Now to wait for the sequel.  Until then, it gets 10 out of 10 sCrypt Coffins.

batman_arkham_origins_video_game-wideBatman Arkham Origins: The Arkham games are probably the BEST comic book related games out there.  Origins, while not surpassing the previously released titles, did a good job of keeping the feel.  There is more detective work to be done, and Batman is fairly new to crime fighting, so his combat skills need to be utilized in ways to take down a group.  Like Batman, this game forces you to think before acting.  Running into a room full of guys with machine guns will not help you save the day.  Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill have been replaced as Batman and the Joker’s respective voices, but their replacements nail it spot on.  Voice acting is perfect, the story is outstanding, and the choice of villains is wonderful.  My only complaint is that even after defeating 100% of the game, you never actually capture some of the villains.  Those that get away are obviously to set up the first game, but it leaves you wondering why Batman isn’t good enough of a detective to stop them.  Riddler being my biggest complaint, as his puzzles just ended with not finding him.  My other complaint is the use of Electrocutioner’s gloves.  To me it felt like I was cheating when I used them, though there were times when they were needed.  I have not played the online multiplayer games and honestly I have no desire to, but I did get the Deathstroke and the Bruce Wayne DLC.  With the latter, it takes you even further back into the origin of Batman to when Bruce Wayne was training with Master Kirigi in the mountains.  This DLC was a welcome addition, albeit extremely difficult.  I can only hope the announced Mr. Freeze DLC comes soon.  All in all, I give it 7 out of 10 sCrypt Coffins.

 

So what did you think of any or all of the above?  Do you agree?  Have anything to add?  Disagree?  comment below.


Editorial: Overwhelming Comic Movie News

marvel-and-dc-logoThis has been a week of news that may even surpass that of comiccons.  Fox, Sony, Marvel, and Warner Brothers continue to compete with each other to see who can get the most news to us, and most memorable.  Here is a quick summary of what we know about the upcoming films/shows, and my own speculation/suggestions as to how it should happen or may happen.

X-Men Days Of Future Past: The Wolverine leads directly into this (you’ll know what I mean if you saw the end credits scene).  The cast of the original cast (well most of them) and the First class cast (most of them as well) will be taking on the classic story from my child hood.  We know that Bolivar Trask and the Sentinels are the main villains.  We also know that newcomers Bishop, Sunspot, Warpath, Quicksilver, Ink and Blink will be in it.  Wolverine will be sent back in time to “possess” his younger self, and try to prevent the events that lead to mutant prejudice.  This event is probably the assassination of JFK, which Magneto is assumed to have been responsible for, and mystique having some sort of role in it.  —— This will be a reboot, sure, but what will it mean for the past cast?  Will they kill off Logan?  He’s not getting any younger.

X-Men Apocalypse: All we know now is that Apocalypse will be the villain.  ——  They should bring back Angel for this story.  It’s only logical.  I believe that the events in DOFP will change the future in a way where Age of Apocalypse will begin.  A darker present will emerge, with the first class characters and possibly a recasting of some of the veterans.  Cyclops should be brought back.  We never saw a dead body in X-3.  He could have been taken by Mr. Sinister and made into one of the horsemen along with Archangel, and two others.

X-Force:  All we know at this point is that the writers like the current run in the comics, and are working on it.  —– Who should be involved?  I personally want to see Domino, Psylocke, Cable, Deadpool, and Archangel.  Maybe even fantomex or a cameo by logan, but I really think this should be fresh and not use Wolverine.

Wolverine 3: Hugh Jackman is back with the same director who did an outstanding job on The Wolverine.  He’s now got bone claws, which may be corrected by magneto being an ally in DOFP.  Either way, it’ll be fun.  I want to see Alpha Flight and Logan going up against Omega Red and Department H.  I can’t think of a more fitting storyline for them to tackle, and they can end his run here respectfully.  Unless they want to do an old man logan storyline, which would be awesome.

Fantastic 4: It will be a reboot, and exist within the same universe as the other Fox owned Marvel properties.

The Amazing Spider-man 2: Electro is the main villain.  Gwenn Stacey dies.  Rhino and Hobgoblin (Ultimate versions) are in it.  Doctor Octopus, Vulture, Venom and Morbius were all hinted at in the trailer.  —- This needs to be done VERY carefully.  As much as I want to see Sinister Six on screen, and Venom done right, I can’t see how they can cram it all.  If (Mecha)Rhino and Hobgoblin are in it as small roles, then it’ll work.  Having it set up for the third film, which is planned already with Rhino at least returning, and introduce Black Cat would make the most sense.  Then they can taper off into 4, which is also confirmed as in the works and bring in Mysterio as a singular menacing villain.  There are various spinoffs in the works too… I can only assume (and hope) that one of these is Venom, and will feature Carnage as the villain.  Make it dark and gritty.

Thor 3: It is all but confirmed.  The Dark World has grossed over 600 million worldwide, so it’s inevitable.  —– thoughts?  I believe Loki died in 2, and made a deal with Hela for Odin’s soul, so that he could come back and assume the throne.  Loki teaming with Enchantress and  Executioner and a reference to Surtur and Hela would be a great way to keep it going.

Guardians of The Galaxy: What we know is that it might take place slightly in the future, that the Collector is the villain, that Adam Warlock’s cocoon was in Thor 2.  We also know that The Mind, Space and Soul gems have all been used in the movies, and that there is a good possibility we will see the Time gem, and maybe another gem make their debut, setting it up for Avengers 3 with Thanos.

Avengers Age Of Ultron: Quicksilver and Scarlet witch are new additions with Ultron as the villain, and the original cast returning. —- This will probably be an epic movie, though I’m a little leary about not being about to call Pietro and Wanda mutants.  I have faith though, and am interested in seeing Ultron on screen and how they will transition from phase 2 to 3.

Captain America The Winter Soldier: Bucky survived the fall, and we all knew it was going to happen.  Crossbones and Falcon also will make their debut on the big screen.  I’m excited to say the least —– I believe that Robert Redford’s character is actually the Red Skull in disguise (or perhaps Baron Zem0), and other than the SHIELD characters involved, I dont think it will really tie into the other movies, and will seem more stand alone.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ——- all I can say is this…. I enjoy it, but have many issues with it.  In order to survive as a series, they really need to start adding people from the comics.  This half assed SHIELD team just isn’t going to cut it for long.  The ONLY reason I’m hanging on at this point is because I want to know what Coulson’s deal is… is he an LMD?  Did Magic ressurect him?  They are hinting at both robot and magic, so I’m interested.  I want to see it survive, but even I am having a hard time staying.

Marvel Miniseries': Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, and Daredevil are all getting their own thirteen episode series’ where they will then tie in to forming a Defenders type group.  —- I’m all for this, but wish they’d do heroes for hire instead of Cage and Rand separately.  Jessica Jones holding her own will be tricky; however I do think that by using the Kingpin as the main antagonist for ALL of these, it would be fun and exciting.

Phase 3: Dr. Strange and Antman are the only two confirmed to lead into Avengers 3.  Rumors of Black Panther and Inhumans still circulate.  — Make it happen and add a new Hulk movie in there.  We never got to see the Leader, despite the setup.

Batman vs Superman: Batman’s costume will be more like the traditional black and grey and less armored.  Lex Luthor is one of possibly 2 villains (the other being Metallo).  Wonder Woman has been cast.  There will be cameos by other JLA members. ——-  I’m dying to see Affleck in his role, and I think Gal Gadot is beautiful, but she really needs to gain a few pounds.  I don’t want Wonder Woman as a main character.  Instead, I’d love to see Diana Prince as a potential love interest for Bruce Wayne.  Her role could be as simple as observing the other two Trinity heroes and deciding whether to trust man or not.  In the end, revealing her true identity would be a great way to kick off JLA.  The cameos by other heroes is nice, but I’m hoping it is a quick reference to other people with abilities, and that is all.  maybe a flash (pun intended) shown on a monitor or something quick in a news feed.

Justice League: —– not much is known.  Please, for the love of God, have Stephen Amell’s Green Arrow and Gary Gustin’s Flash in it.  learn A lesson, DC.  Superman Returns would have been better with Tom Welling in a Smallville spinoff.  Not that Smallville was perfect (it was far from it) but it was established.  No one wanted to see someone else in the role.  Arrow is doing EVERYTHING right.  Tie it all together; otherwise you will have some seriously confused audiences, and countless irritated fans.

Arrow: What’s to come?  Clock King, Ra’s Al Ghul, Solomon Grundy, Flash, possibly the real Black Canary, references to AMAZO, Red Arrow donning the hood, Oliver finally using an eye mask, Deathstroke, Suicide Squad…. the list continues to grow.  It’s established.  It’s having a Flash spinoff…. Make it part of the movie universe.  I can’t stress this enough.  Oh, and one other thing.  Get rid of Laurel (Dinah) Lance’s sister.  Laurel needs to be likeable again, get her crap together, and become the real Black Canary.

There you have it.  My two-cents, and hopefully someone will listen out there.  Bring me in as a writer or consultant.  What do you think?  Which movies are you looking forward to?  What are your thoughts?  Do you agree or disagree with my comments?  Chime in.  The bottom line?  I’m a comic book fan.  I want to see both DC and Marvel succeed.  I want the best of both worlds.


Review: Thor The Dark World

thor_2_the_dark_world_2013-wideReview by Rick Pipito, with input by Dan Pipito

It’s Star Wars meets Lord of the Rings in another epic Marvel movie.  I could just tell you what I think of the film, and give it a rating, but then I wouldn’t be able to explain a few of the things I picked up and speculate on it.  If you want my rating, and no spoilers, then skip to the last paragraph; otherwise, you’ve been warned… There are Major SPOILERS ahead.

The characters are a great starting point.  We’re already sold on Loki and Thor.  Hiddleston and Hemsworth are these characters incarnate.  I cannot (nor do I want to) see anyone else fill their shoes (at least for a very long time).  Hemsworth’s commanding posture and voice mirror the pages from the comics, while Hiddleston’s smirks, his emotion, and sly comments are ones to make you cheer for the badguy.  Aside from them, the rest of the cast performed as well as they.  Christopher Eccleston’s Malekith was a wonderful choice for villain; especially with Kurse at his side.  I particularly love how their “origins” (at least for how they look in the comics) was shown.  I thought it was creative, and thrown in quick enough without focusing on it.  Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, and Renee Russo, as well as the Warriors Three were of an average performance (certainly not under or overwhelming, but decent).  Jaimie Alexander as Lady Sif I felt was underused, but I’d assume she’d play a larger role against an enemy like Enchantress in the future.  Idris Elba as Heimdall is always amazing, and although the portrayal of Erik Selvig was cheesy at best, it somehow worked.

The Plot was interesting and made the audience feel the seriousness of the situation at hand.  It flowed well, and I don’t feel that there were any unnecessary nods or side steps.  From the opening scene until the credits rolled, I was glued to what was happening, and didn’t miss a beat.  My only problem is that I figured out the Loki not being dead from the moment it happened on the battlefield (this I’ll explain in my theories in a few paragraphs).  I was also shocked during a few moments of the movie with things I wasn’t expecting, which was good.  There was a perfect blend of humor and action as well.

Sound and Visuals: I have no complaints about the score of music.  Even the visuals were great in most places, but there were a few spots where something didn’t look right.  In the scene where the two jets are flying, as well as when the realms were aligning, something just felt off there.  It almost looked fake, but for a mere second.  It’s probably just me being nitpicky, but it was something I noticed.  Also, the scene where Thor jumped from the balcony and shed his robe to fly off in the distance looked a little cartoony, but overall not bad.  Keep in mind, this was a very visual effect heavy movie, so if these are my only complaints, then it isn’t really an issue beyond me being stubborn.

Easter Eggs and Continuity: The Avengers was referenced nonchalantly multiple times, so it is well established when this takes place.  Stan Lee’s cameo was hilarious yet again (I love that man).  The surprise of Loki’s illusion of Chris Evan’s Captain America was both exhilarating and funny.  The Infinity gems are now pretty much established as part of the whole saga, obviously leading up to an infinity gem war with Thanos in Avengers 3.  The Collector appearing in the mid credits was a lot of fun especially since it will lead right into guardians of the Galaxy.  All in all, the film was full of them, and done well.  Hell, even the end credit scene brought some closure to the story, and though it wasn’t needed, it sort of showed that some “cleaning up” needed to be done on earth.  Not necessary, like I said, but welcome being there.

Overall feel and speculation: Thor the Dark World fit well, it stood equal to what the Avengers and prior movies already established, and it more than made up for some of the faults of Iron Man 3.  So where do we go from here?  Here are my thoughts…. Keep in mind, this is just speculation, but I think a semi intelligent deduction.

1)  Loki DID die.  Before he died on the battlefield, he told Kurse “I’ll see you in Hel.”  Anyone familiar with the comics knows that this is HEL, not HELL.  Asgardians die and go to Hel, which is run by Hela.  In the comics, Hela and Loki were related.  I think Loki was not fearing death.  He had a plan.  Remember, he is the god of mischief and trickery.  He died, and in Hel, he made a deal with Hela.  This deal was to allow him to return to life, but in exchange, he would give Hela a more powerful entity for her realm.  So as he returned, he killed Odin.  Hela gets the most powerful Asgardian, while Loki gets the throne he always wanted.  BTW, I turned to Dan during the end when “Odin” was speaking to Thor.  I could see from his stance, and his manner that this was in fact Loki; so when the reveal came, I wasn’t at all surprised, but pleased.

2) The gems.  So far we have the Mind Gem (which was in Loki’s staff in avengers).  This is in SHIELD’s possession.  Then we have the Space Gem.  I didn’t think the Tesseract was anything more than just a cosmic cube, but apparently now we know (from the mid credits scene) that it is a gem.  It had the ability to open portals to anywhere in the universe.  What does this mean?  Well Red Skull just teleported away, as I previously assumed, and he isn’t dead.  Neither are anyone else who was “vaporized” by it in Captain America The First Avenger.  The Space Gem is in Asgard’s vaults.  Finally there is the Aether from this movie.  It was in fact the Soul Gem.  Sure the colors are all off, but that doesn’t matter.  It infected the Soul, and the soul was referenced by the Asgardians.  The Collector mentioned the 6 gems.  Three have been covered.  Guardians of the Galaxy is rumored to be taking place in the future (at least part of it).  This could explain the Time Gem, which leaves the Power Gem, and the Reality Gem.  It will be interesting to see where this all fits.

3) Enchantress, Surtur, Hela… there is plenty of room for more Thor movies, and I’m sure we’ll see it.

4) Agents of SHIELD… okay, so this strays, but it’ll be interesting to see how this movie affects the series, which I believe will tie in around episode 8 of this season.

Final Rating:  If I rated Thor a 7, then I have to give Thor 2: The Dark World 8 sCrypt Coffins out of 10.  It was a better sequel, it opened up more comic mythology, and it stood as a sequel and standalone movie to ALL of the Marvel Universe movies.  Intelligent, funny, and action packed, this goes up high on my list of Great comic book movies.

What did you think of Thor The Dark World?  Do you have any predictions?  Comment below, and thanks for checking out our review.


Review: Evil Dead – The Musical

Evil-Dead-520x355When I heard this was coming to town, I had been blown away that something like this even existed.  Part of me was skeptic, part of me was fanboy, and yet another was completely intrigued.  Immediately I went to work for tickets.  Now before I review this I must say where my views originate.  I have been involved in many stage musicals in the past as a musician and a sound man.  I also have acting experience.  But most of all, Evil Dead the movie (as well as its one half sequel and Army of Darkness) is probably one of my favorite classics.  There is a catch however.  Despite me being all of the above, I am not entirely a musical fan.  The last musical I saw was in 2005 and that was because my sister was the lead actress.  Don’t get me wrong.  I enjoy it for what it is, and appreciate all the hard work and talent that goes into it, but I’m a horror author, so its typically not my thing to go on musical adventures.  That being said, this is a show that even non-play watching people can enjoy.  Let’s get to it, shall we (I’ll mention the negative first and end on a high note).

The Bad: Let’s get this out of the way right now.  There were some sound issues.  Feedback at times were only a minor nuisance compared to the times that the vocals dropped out.  Some of the sound effects also didn’t match up well to actions.  Understand that a play is very difficult to run, especially from the sound end.  I’ve been there.  I know.  Some of this was uncontrollable, and it happens, but as an audience member, it annoyed me.

Secondly, there was also a loop hole of sorts.  During the Necronomicon dance in the second act, all of the Candarian demons were resurrected.  Or at least they were supposed to be.  Annie should have been one of the six doing the dance and song with them as she had turned at one point, yet she was nowhere to be seen.  Okay, so I have to be honest.  Shelly and Annie were played by the same actress, so it was impossible.  I don’t understand why this wouldn’t be addressed.

Next is the Necronomicon dance.  This was the only number in the entire play that I really didn’t enjoy too much.  It wasn’t bad by any means, but I felt that it dragged on entirely too long.  Maybe I was just grumpy because I had finished my beer.

Finally, and this is me being nitpicky, but in the movies there was this unknown evil force that was shown from only the camera eye.  You never saw what it was, but the noise that went with it was enough to bring that menacing fear with it.  I only wish there was some way that they could have incorporated that here, even if for a few seconds.  I’m not sure how they could have, but I’m just saying it would have been nice.

The Good: Where do I begin?  Ah, the “Easter Eggs” (aka hidden things).  There were quite a few of these and they didn’t seem forced.  When Cheryl walks across the stage reading a book, the book is Bruce Campbell’s autobiography.  You couldn’t miss his face on the cover.  And the mention of Oz the Great and Powerful was hysterical.  I loved the Oz movie, and I’d rather have seen them pick on Spiderman 3 instead, but the film itself wasn’t the target.  The jab was at Sam Raimi himself (who directed and wrote the Evil dead movies originally).  Something about how the director for the movie was horrible.  Ah Irony at its best.  The third and final Easter Egg (and I could have missed more) was the “you’ll be dead by dawn” quote.  Evil Dead 2 was called “Dead By Dawn”, so this being repeated a few times was a good way of combining both films (which the second was a remake anyway).

Moving on to the props, effects, and lighting.  I mentioned my issue with the sound, but for the most of the time the sound was done well, and by well I mean really F*#ing cool!  The demonic voices and sound effects were a major part of what we were seeing on stage.  The props looked great, as well as the set design.  The costumes were identical for the most part, and the lighting impeccable.  There’s even the scene from the movie, where the camera zooms in on each item in the house as they become possessed.  In that stage scene, a spotlight is used to highlight these objects.  Then it randomly shines on two people sitting in the audience for a great comedic addition.

I’m including blood in its own category.  There is a “Splash zone”.  You want the full experience?  Get in the splash zone.  Every person got gored on by dismembered characters, and rained on by…. well I don’t want to spoil the whole thing.  I’ll just say that some people leaving there better have been going straight home to take a shower.

Audience interaction because of this and a few other things told me that I wasn’t the only one enjoying the show.  Everyone in the theater (which was sold out btw) gave a standing ovation for such a job well done.  Oh wait!  Did I forget to talk about the two most important things?  What could I be thinking?  Oh that’s right…

Music first.  The songs and dialogue were over the top cheesy when it came to lyrics, but in a good way.  If you are an Evil Dead fan, then that is what you’ve come to expect.  The High points that stood out to me were the hit songs “Look who’s evil now”, “What The Fuck was That”, “Good Old Reliable Jake,” and “Bit Part Demon”.  All of the other music was composed and written just as well, but the aforementioned songs had me laughing out loud.

Finally, we get to the acting.  Linda (Margaret Thompson), Scott (Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll), Ed (Kenton Blythe), Jake (Daniel Williston), and Annie/Shelly (Laura Tremblay) were all very into their roles.  The ladies looked gorgeous and the guys complimented them well.  Every one of them were into their roles, and didn’t miss a beat.  This crew of actors/actresses really have great futures ahead of them if they keep it up.

For me though, I have to really give praise to Cheryl (Alison Smyth) and of course Ash (Ryan Ward).  Alison was able to do everything from comedic relief to even running in a way that gave homage to the original tree rape scene from the film without going too far.  She was feisty and fun.  Just when you’d forget about her, she’d pop back up with some bad pun or the like to distract the audience.  She did so well at this in fact that Ash was able to strap on his shotgun pouch with barely a notice.  Of course she had help doing this, but really, I have to praise Alison’s performance.  And Ryan.  Wow, man.  I hope you read this, because YOU, sir, have given me faith that someone else other than Bruce Campbell is possible in this role.  Ryan Ward’s features and height not only make him appear similar to Ash’s look, but his vocal range, and performance really propel the show well beyond liking it to loving it.  Perfect delivery of all the classic lines got him applause and cheers during the show, and he even was able to recover from one of the minor sound flaws I mentioned by playing in to it.

Also, don’t take me as just focusing on Alison and Ryan, because Rodrigo was hilarious, Margaret and Laura have angelic voices (in a demon movie… go figure that), and Kenton and Daniel really shined with their minor roles.

I’m rating Evil Dead the Musical with 9 out of 10 sCrypt coffins.  My minor gripes I’m sure were a rarity, and the only thing holding me back from giving it a flawless.  Go see this show.  You won’t regret it, and you’ll never find another like it.  I’d love to have seen if there was a way to do Army of Darkness the musical, but the events in that were referenced in the end S-Mart scene.

Visit www.evildeadthemusical.com for details on where to find a show near you, as well as see some clips and biographies of the cast.

I’d also like to thank www.Princemusictheater.org in Philadelphia for making this an enjoyable R-Rated experience.


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