spreading the talent

Pick Of The Week

Marvel TV shows review: Daredevil, Agent Carter, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Daredevil-Character-Poster-Matt-MurdockI decided this year to review all of the live action shows related to Marvel Comics in one article, so it will be more brief, but will contain some spoilers.  If you just want my ratings then scroll down to the final paragraph of each break, which will be spoiler free.

First up, Daredevil.  What is there to say?  A lot, but so little.  To me, this is the best Marvel live action thing to date, and that is saying a LOT.  Never once have they nailed a character and realism as well as they had with this series.  It also opens up opportunities for so much more, and yet still pays tribute to that which is already established.  It connects the existing cinematic universe without using it as a springboard and does it tastefully.  So, on to the characters:

Daredevil/Matt Murdock is played by Charlie Cox.  From the acting, the abuse that the character takes both mentally and physically, and the way he perceives the world through his senses, you can really get a feel for what it is like to be in his shoes.  His first costume is on point with one of the comic versions, while his final costume and why he dons it are closer to what we all know and love.  Cox really takes us on the ride of not just knowing DD’s origin, but why he does what he does.  He’s not just a hero because he has to be… he’s a hero because he WANTS to be.

Wilson Fisk/Kingpin , played by Vincent D’Onofrio, is believable from the start.  This isn’t just Murdock’s origin as the hero, but moreso Fisk’s origin as the Kingpin.  The look into his childhood says a lot as to why he is who he is, and what he goes through in these 13 episodes shows us why he will become what he has by the end of the season.  He is cunning and powerful in more ways than one, and I doubt those bars will hold him for long.

Foggy Nelson, Karen Page, & Ben Urich: These three drive the series home, and while Foggy was quirky at times he grew on me.  Ben was absolutely outstanding and I wish we could have seen more of him in the future.  Karen proved that she will do what is necessary to survive, and support her friends.  Daredevil would not have been complete without these three supporting characters.

Vanessa & Wesley: Like the above 3, supporting characters I can’t stress how much these two were needed for Fisk.  Vanessa although falling a bit too fast has a dark side that is well balanced with a lighter side, making the perfect compliment for the lead villain.  Every scene that included Wesley was enjoyable because of his dedication and coldness.

Leland Owlsley/The Owl:  Bob Gunton always seems to play the same character no matter what his role, but his acting perfection in that role gave Owlsley the life he needed.  My only regret is that we didn’t get to see the full comic book adaptation of The Owl, but I understand why.  There was no room or need for him to become his better known comic half other than to serve the role he already did in the series.

Claire Temple/Nightnurse played by Rosario Dawson was utilized to the perfect amount.  She didn’t need to do anymore than what she was there for, and I’m glad that they got away from the romance between her and Matt that I thought was going to begin.

Stan Lee: Yes I have to include his cameo, because he’s the man. I can understand if you missed it but he’s there in spirit.  Behind the main desk of the Police office building there is a framed photo on the wall of who might be the chief of police or some retired police hero.  The photo is of Stan Lee in uniform.  His cameo and the avengers references were enough to make any fan boy smile.

Stick: Aside from the brief cameo we see by his partner Stone, Stick was crucial to the history of the man who would become DD.  His persona is countered by the Catholic Priest and I believe it is both of these things that shape our hero and allow him to know what is right and wrong and which lines to cross.

Madame Gao: There are many speculations as to her actually being the Crane Mother, and they are justified.  She knocked DD on his ass and barely had to break a sweat.  Then she claimed that she was from a place much farther than China, so the only thing that could be is another realm… not to mention the symbol that is known to be part of the Iron Fist background.  All of this aside, her role, and the brief Hand ninja appearance became ground work for the future of this series, and others to come.

All in all, I have to rate DD with a 10 out of 10 sCrypt Coffins.  This is definitely NOT for young children, evident by the language and violence, but I think us adults needed something more mature to enjoy in this amazing universe.  Kudos to the writers, producers and cast for an outstanding job.

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Agent-Carter-02Marvel’s Agent Carter is our second review, and while I was very skeptical at first, I found myself surprised by this 8 episode series.  Here are the highlights:

Hayley Atwell breathes life once again into Peggy Carter.  From coping with the “death” of Steve Rogers to dealing with the sexism of the time, she proves herself worthy in so many ways.  With Edwin Jarvis and Howard Stark there to support her, she rises against the odds, kicks ass, and all while feeling real.

Doctor Faustus The Black Widow program prove to be the perfect villains for the series while The Howling Commandoes become a wanted sight to assist Carter.

Stan Lee once again appears as a guy getting his shoes shined, and again you can’t help but smile at his presence.

All in all I found the series to be unnecessary, but enjoyable.  The cast and setting were a decent escape from the norm, and it provided an origin to the organization that would one day be called SHIELD.  That being said, I wish this was a one shot.  There is no need to further tackle this subject in another miniseries, but ABC has officially announced season 2.  Overall I give Agent Carter 6 out of 10 sCrypt coffins.

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Marvels-Agents-Of-SHIELD-Season-2-posterAnd finally Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2…

It began with a bang, progressed on to more boring issues, then got interesting, but not necessarily great.   Then the ending came and the finale went out with a bang.  Here are some of the more notable things:

Phil Coulson has become less interesting, and while I’m a fan of everything Clark Greg does, I’m convinced the newly appointed director of SHIELD may have his days numbered.

Carl Creel/Absorbing Man was easily the BEST thing about this season.  He was given a mention in Daredevil as well, so I think the powers that be know his worth.  The special effects and interesting way that they made him appear (yes even with his ball and chain) had me convinced that this season was going to be absolutely amazing.

The second best thing about this season was the introduction of Bobbi Morse/Mockingbird.  She is what the SHIELD team needed to feel more connected to Marvel’s universe.  She’s an enjoyable character to watch and more likeable than most of the characters.

FitzSimmons is annoying on a whole different level than they were last season.  Fitz has become more likeable, but his memory issue seems to have been a bit overdone.  Simmons on the other hand; for the love of God, she needs to go.  There was no point to her even being there other than being a very annoying character.

Agent 33 is a mystery.  I’m not sure where I stand as of yet on her reliance with Ward, but could she be Madame Masque?  If she isn’t I dont see much of a point to her either.

Raina took a back seat through most of this season, but I like that they introduced her as the Raina character from the comics.  Sure she may have been a C-rate character, but the usage was done nicely.

Daisy/Skye/Quake is the primary focus of the season, and while she has been revealed as being one of the Inhumans, she is not up to her full capacity yet.  This needed to be done with Skye, because if not she’d be another person that would have felt forced if anything at all.  I’m interested in seeing her develop more especially since she will be on a team of powered people working for SHIELD next season (at least that’s what they led you to believe).

Cal/Mr. Hyde Definitely one of the most enjoyable aspects of the season.  He’s a bit nerdy, a bit psychotic, and a bit melodramatic, but I’d never in a million years have thought I’d see him in a live action adaptation.  While I hope for more known characters to appear, Hyde is what this show needs.  It is a less than perfect show, so why not use less than perfect characters that will enhance it?  He is exactly that but it works well.

Deathlok 2.0 is still meh.  I like Mike Peterson, but he is still not the Deathlok I want to see.  I only hope that this version of him will continue to evolve into what he should be.  We know they can pull it off, so they need to make it happen.  I’d much rather see him and mockingbird than the lesser inhuman people.

From characters, to Age of Ultron and movie/tv show tie ins, to the Kree and SHIELD rising and falling, this season had a lot going for it, but also a lot of room for improvement.  It has been renewed for season 3, but if they don’t do something interesting fast then it will get the boot.  I give it 5 out of 10 sCrypt Coffins for season 2.  There was enough to make me interested, but much to forget about.


DC TV Shows Review 2015: Constantine, The Flash, Arrow, Gotham

constantine-sezon-1-constantine-season-1-cover-okladkaAs with the Marvel TV review, I included all the DC shows I’ve been watching for review in this article.  It will be broken down into 3 sections: Constantine Season 1, The Flash Season 1, Gotham Season 1 & Arrow Season 3.  There will be spoilers, so if you’d like to avoid them, then scroll down to the last paragraph of each section for my ratings.  Also feel free to add your own thoughts/speculations.  Here goes:

First up is Constantine Season 1…

While I was familiar with Constantine I had not read the comics at all, so my knowledge was limited.  With any comic series or characters I always tend to research them.  So I did, and soon after I realized how much I enjoyed the character and setting of his world.  For DC this is a very unique world in which to delve, and I’m happy that they have.

The show began a little too cheesy in places for me, but I soon grew to really enjoy it.  The jumpy horror feel aside, the characters and appearances of other DC universe things made it worth while.

John Constantine could not have been done better IMO.  Matt Ryan is the perfect person to play this role, and he set the tone for what the show was.  With a supporting cast featuring Chas, Zed, and Manny (an angel), they work well protecting the world from supernatural threats, all while making it an enjoyable watch.

Papa Midnight was an extremely fun villain to watch, and I’m glad that he was a recurring role.

Unfortunate however were the uses of Felix Faust and Dr. Mist.  Faust’s story was great, but I don’t feel they chose the right actor (though he did a decent job) to play the part.  I felt Faust should have been more intimidating, but that might just be me.  Mist (Nommo) was almost forgettable.

The only other comic book persona that was present was Jim Corrigan, who (as forseen by Zed), will one day become The Spectre.  To me he stole every scene and I’d love to see his eventual death and reveal at becoming that entity.

Other notable references were Dr. Fate’s helmet and Astra.  Both of which were utilized wisely for the fans.

In all, I’m upset that they cancelled this.  Well NBC did.  It appears as though there is a push from Stephen Amell and others to get another network to pick it up and include it in the “arrowverse”.  I don’t think it was given a fair run.  It took ten of 13 episodes to really establish what it was, and just when it got really interesting it was taken away.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed for some sort of renewal, but for Season 1 I’ll give it 5 out of 10 sCrypt coffins.

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Gotham-season-1-FOX-poster-2014Gotham season 1 was equally frustrating and fun.  I love that they are tackling the origins of Gotham city, but at times it feels too forced.  Let’s break it down.

GCPD is the most incompetent police force on the planet, and Gotham just made it more unlikeable.  They are corrupt beyond belief, and yet somehow still manage to make you feel bad for them.

Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock are the two likeable things within the department.  As partners they compliment and contradict each other well.  Two sides of the coin seem to come together and balance each other out.  Harvey pushes Gordon to do things a little less moral, while Jim pulls in on Bullock’s rebellious reigns.  Every scene with these two is what really makes this show enjoyable.

Bruce Wayne’s detective skills already surpass that which was shown in the dark knight trilogy, so he’s well on his way to becoming the man he one day will.  He is portrayed well and its fun to watch him develop. Alfred Pennyworth is oddly done here however.  While I like the portrayal, I’m hoping to see a more laid back butler soon.  He’s a bit too harsh for me but I can see it as he’s a standin father for young Bruce.

Falcone and Maroni are two sides to a mob war that have me constantly cheering for the former.  Maroni is unbelievable in his delivery and is somewhat offensive to any Italian.  He seems more wannabe than a threat, and I’m glad he met his fate.  Falcone on the other hand is the real deal, and while he leaves for better ventures, I feel we haven’t seen the last of him.

Easily stealing the show is Oswald “The Penguin” Cobblepot.  To see the rise of such an underrated villain is interesting to say the least, but it makes one of my least favorite Batman villains very likeable.  His struggles and how he comes to manipulate and in the end achieve his goals is one of the more compelling story plots going on in the series.  The same can be said for Edward Nygma “The Riddler”.  His final scene in the finale was a bit rushed in my opinion, and it almost felt like scenes were cut out before that, but overall he’s highly entertaining to the point of cheering for him (almost).

Now onto the parts I hate about this show, and I don’t want to sound sexist, but for the love of God, the females are horrible!  I don’t know what the writers are doing here.  In Batman the females are always the more likeable people, but they are shown as annoying and incompetent at the least.  Poison Ivy (Ivy Pepper) is the exception but she was shown little.  At first she felt forced, but it works the way she is used.  Sarah Essen also tends to work really well, as did Renee Montoya (and her partner Crispus Allen), but there wasn’t enough of them in the season to make noteworthy.  Barbara Kean, Leslie Thompkins and Selina Kyle are downright hard to watch at times.  Barbara seems like an immature college girl, Thompkins is an obsessive controlling person, and Selina is a snot nosed brat.  My skin curls when these three appear because they don’t at all echo their comic book counterparts.  And don’t get me started on Fish Mooney.  I hope she’s dead.  Jada Pinkett Smith is a horrible actress, and her terrible mannerisms are enough to make me want to puke.  Am I being too harsh?  No.  She doesn’t seem realistic, and while we are dealing with a non realistic show, it doesn’t matter.  She’s as forced as Maroni if not more.

But alas I digress.  Easily I can say that appearances by Mr. Zsasz, Harvey Dent, Lucius Fox, Copperhead, Richard Sionis, Electrocutioner, Amygdala, Jonathan Crane, The Graysons, and The Ogre were all well done, especially The Ogre and Crane stories.  Should I even mention the outstanding performance of Jerome (The Joker)?  He isn’t the iconic villain yet, but to get a back story is exciting.

My last complaint is that the visual effects are terrible, but these are purely budgetary restraints.  The Dollmaker’s experimental Frankenstein like person was only briefly seen, but it didn’t look believeable.  Neither did the people who were using the precursor to the drug that will one day be known as venom (used by Bane).  The CG just didn’t line up.

Was the show enjoyable?  Yes, but I don’t hold out much hope unless it stops feeling forced and starts focusing on the world they have to work with.  I want to see this last until Bruce becomes the man he once will, but for that to happen they really need to stop cramming things in.  An older Gordon appearing in the “Arrowverse” or finding the right story for Barry Allen to travel back in time into this series is a fanboy wish I’d like to see.  I’ll give season 1 of Gotham 5 out of 10 sCrypt coffins.  It is more interesting than annoying, but barely.

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Flash-Season-1-493x700Now onto something a bit more appetizing.  The Flash is a pleasant surprise worthy of any fan of the character, and I may go as far as saying it had the best season finale of any tv show I’ve ever seen.  It was emotional on so many levels, geektastic on so many levels, and the cliffhanger will make the summer months feel longer.

Grant Gustin IS Barry Allen/The Flash.  From his debut in Arrow last season to constantly proving he is right for the role, Grant has gone above and beyond any expectations for the character.  DC casting other characters in their movie universe is flat out stupid, because we’ve got perfection here.

Candice Patton as Iris West is not only a gorgeous person to watch on screen, but she really helped to establish the hows and whys of Barry Allen.  At times, she is naïve and slightly irritating, but she’s overall a likeable and great character.

The same can be said about Detective Joe West and Eddie Thawne.  The moments that they are on screen are perfectly executed.  My only complaint would be that Eddie doesn’t really convey a feeling of true “love” toward Iris until the final episode.  His exit was shocking to say the least, but after seeing him get pulled into the black hole I wonder if that means we’ll see him in some form as Cobalt Blue.

Caitlyn Snow and Cisco Ramon are bound to become Killer Frost and Vibe at one point (as foreshadowed and hinted at in the finale), and it Is great to see their destinies unfold.  Cisco, while a bit dorky, is perhaps THE BEST character on TV.  He is very relatable and doesn’t take his work so seriously that he’s a recluse.  That role is better saved for Snow, who has quite the (pardon the pun) cold demeanor.

Tom Cavanaugh as Dr.Wells/Reverse Flash/Eobard Thawne is every bit what makes Hannibal Lecter and The Joker fun villains.  YOu almost want to see this guy succeed and continue to be a thorn in Barry’s side.  The way his story unfolded was unpredictable in details and I hope we see a lot more of Tom in the future. (yes, another pun)

Ronnie Raymond & Martin Stein becoming Firestorm is also a plot point that worked.  While Robbie Amell’s stiff acting as Firestorm leaves much to be desired, this version of a great character has a lot of potential.  My complaint would be that we need to see his true abilities of rearranging matter.  Otherwise he’s just another human torch with dual identities.

Wentworth Miller as Captain Cold is the same as Cavanaugh in terms of stealing the show.  He’s made to be much more than his comic book counterpart but in a respectful manner true to source material.  His often team ups with Heatwave and Golden Glider click well together and make for a threatening force.  I can’t wait to see where they take Cold.

Other villains who appeared in lesser but still likeable rolls were General Wade Eiling, Prism, Blackout, Mist, Multiplex, Simon Stagg, Plastique, Bug Eyed Bandit, Girder, Deathbolt, and Peek-A-Boo .  It didn’t feel jam packed with comic references and really gave the opportunity to focus on lesser known characters.  I like being introduced to them on some level because it creates more freedom for the show writers to bring to light some of these often overlooked villains.

The Weather Wizard and Gorilla Grodd especially were pleasant surprises that I didn’t think would be doable on TV (especially in the latter’s case), but I was proven wrong.  It wouldn’t be a Flash show without them.  Instead it would be more like the less than notable 90s Flash TV show.  Speaking of that… The 90s show was a childhood favorite for me, and while it wasn’t too true to the comics, I liked it because it brought one of my favorite characters to life.  So, when I saw that Tina McGee was going to return with the same actress, as well as John Wesley Shipp, and the ever awesome Mark Hammil reprising his role as The Trickster I was over excited.  Without crediting or discrediting the 90s series they made great efforts to pass the torch to this new show.

Rip Hunter and Jay Garrick also got shout outs in the finale.

From the crossovers and the buildup to what could be a potential Flashpoint Paradox storyline (look it up if you’re unfamiliar), I’d say we have a series that will last a decade.  The foreshadowing, time travel, and references to the Crisis could make any fan giddy.  I’m giving this show a 9 out of 10 with sCrypt Coffins.  There is room for improvement, but it isn’t far from perfection.

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Arrow-season-3-promo-posterFinally we get to Arrow.  This is the show that started it all and established the term “Arrowverse”.  While we still have yet to get the true version of Green Arrow and others, the cast is beginning to take a step in that direction.  The third season had its ups and downs.  At one point I even worried that The Flash was getting all of the writers’ attentions because Arrow slipped mid to late season in my opinion.  Then the finale came and while the final fight seemed a bit sub par, I think it ended on a high note for everyone.

Black Canary/Dinah Laurel Lance finally came upon her destiny.  Laurel was not just likeable this season, but badass.  And when she finally gave her “canary cry” I couldn’t help but smile at the greatness of it.

Ray Palmer/The Atom was introduced in a great way, and he even dubbed the city “Star” instead of “Starling”, but I’m not sure why that wasn’t mentioned again.  While he was awesome addition to the cast I hate what they did with his heroic side.  I don’t want to see an Ironman rip off.  I want the Atom that I know and love.  Of course I went through 2 and a half seasons waiting for the Black Canary, so I can hold out until next season to see the inevitable shrinking abilities come about.

Thea/Red Arrow/Speedy was finally given a usefulness.  She was pivotal to everything this season and with the departure of Arsenal, it’s nice to see her pick up the reigns.  Plus her outfit is perfect.

Malcolm Merlyn/Dark Archer had a less than perfect role, but it was substantial and a good enough set up to see what he will do now that he is the new leader of the League of Assassins.

Ra’s Al Ghul was no way near as good as Liam Neeson’s version of the character.  I feel that he and Nyssa were just a plot point used to turn Oliver into more of a Batman figure than anything else.  It was wrong and irritating every step of the way, but the Lazarus Pit and mythology surrounding the characters made up for it.

And of course with that mention I’ll rant about our hero.  When is Oliver Queen/Green Arrow going to stop being Batman?  He’s not Batman!  It frustrates me that the writers are taking the personality of Queen and making it something else.  My only hope is that season 4 now has the opportunity to correct this.

Which brings me to Felicity Smoak.  I love the girl, and she’s stunning to look at, but what a cry baby.  It seemed all she did was cry or sleep with someone different every episode.  The ending with her and Oliver seemed misplaced and I hope they start next season well, because this really felt like a series finale.  Diggle has become a favorite of mine, and I’m hoping that he comes back with an even fuller role, perhaps battling H.I.V.E. and bringing the team together again.

While Ted Grant/Wildcat had a nifty little arc it was also great to see other known characters crossover and make their debuts.  New additions to Arrow were: Komodo, Manhunter, Captain Boomerang, Brick, Cupid, Katana, and the mention of Damien Darhk who is bound to be the villain of next season.  There were also numerous references to Green Lantern that were made in both this and The Flash.

I still think Arrow is one of the best comic book shows on TV, but if they really don’t define who he is supposed to be in season 4, then what’s the point?   I’ll give season 3 of Arrow 6 out of 10 sCrypt Coffins.


Review: Avengers Age Of Ultron

Avengers_Age_of_UltronReview season is just about upon us for TV shows, so I figured I’d kick it off with a review of Avengers 2: Age of Ultron.  If you haven’t seen it, then scroll down to the last paragraph for my rating… unless you want to be spoiled.  Yes, there will be spoilers mentioned.  You’ve been warned.🙂

Let’s start with Robert Downey Jr as (Ironman) Tony Stark and Chris Evans as (Captain America) Steve Rogers.  If you can’t see Civil War coming out of this, then you missed a lot.  Tony and Steve don’t see eye to eye on a lot of things, but Stark’s actions in this movie put them on separate paths toward a common goal.  RDJ was once again perfect as Stark.  In the comics it was Antman who had created Ultron, but they changed it for the movie.  Having Stark create Ultron made a lot of sense here.  It was done well overall and it brought out the character flaws this team had.  Tony had already created the  Iron Legion robo police force and his reasons for wanting to go further were justified.  Steve is still trying to adjust to modern times, so being left in the dark about such a bold move was not something he felt was wise.  The dynamic here was less about Ultron and the threat than it was about setting up Cap 3.

Chris Hemsworth shined as Thor.  More focus was put on the true power that he wields, specifically Mjolnir.  Thor’s confidence is almost a cockiness in his abilities and if Captain America almost lifting the hammer wasn’t bothersome enough to THor’s ego, then certainly Vision’s actions were.  Heimdall‘s brief cameo fit well and I like how they set up what looks to be Thor 3: Ragnarok.  Thor’s role here was to inform about the power of the infinity stones and the role they play in the universe.

Hulk (Bruce Banner) took more of a back seat for me in this movie.  Mark Ruffalo’s portrayal was spot on, and though the Hulk shined we got to see more of the struggle Banner has coping with his alter ego.  He accepts it less and fears it more than in the last movie.  So much so that he is solely responsible for helping Ironman develop the Hulkbuster (veronica) armor.  The presence of both Banner and Hulk were equally important this time, but I feel as though he was bullied a bit by Tony.  I was a little caught off guard by the sexual tension between him and Natasha, but I’m glad that they strayed from that.  Who knows where he ended up in the end.  Fury mentioned the craft MIGHT have crashed into the ocean, but you can’t help but wonder if it was all a setup for another Hulk movie (Planet Hulk).  I hope not as I don’t particularly like that story.

Scarlett Johansson has proven my initial thoughts on her in the role to be completely false.  I love her as Black Widow (Natasha Romanov), though I do have one issue.  Whedon could have corrected the lack of RUssian accent in the flashback to her ballet days, but he chose to ignore it.  I was pleased that we got a little more of her background though and everything that was hinted at in her prior appearances.  Her crush on Banner was strange to me, but then again I was blown away that her relationship with Clint was less intimate than I’d rightfully assumed.

Jeremy Renner really took the lead in this movie. Hawkeye (Clint Barton) was finally called his codename and it was fun how it was done and the reasoning.  I was blown away by the reveal of his family but it was a welcome change.  There needed to be someone with some kind of personal life and he being the choice made sense.  While Cap was the leader and Tony the funding of the team, Hawkeye was the glue that held them together.

War Machine (James Rhodes) and Falcon (Sam Wilson), played by Don Cheadle and Anthony Mackie cameoed in important minor roles that by the ending you realize will become much more in the next installment.

Quicksilver (Pietro Maximoff) and Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff) were perfect.  Aaron Taylor Johnson was a much better Quicksilver than the already likeable one that was in X-Men DOFP.  My only regrets are that he had to die because of the dual studios usage of the character.  In a battle like this however there are bound to be casualties, so I’m fine with the choice.  Elizabeth Olsen was both sexy and creepy in her role, and I’m happy with the portrayal of her powers.  The slight modification worked well and the hint at the twins’ past can be touched upon more if Marvel ever ended up with rights to X-men.  The twins beginning as antagonists and becoming heroes was everything I wanted to see with them.

Vision is both the evolution of JARVIS and the creation of Ultron.  His origin was similar to the comics and his presence and sleek look were a very welcome addition.  He was to this movie as Hulk was to the last, and earned his place quickly.  Although his solar gem atop his head was changed to the mind gem, the origin and use of that which was once in Loki’s scepter placed well.  It was a primary reason why he became so powerful and heroic.  As part machine with organic matter in him, he is able to wield it without being corrupted by temptation or control.  They even gave a nod to the romance that will be eventual between him and Scarlet Witch.

Samuel L Jackson is always great to see as Nick Fury, and with him and Maria Hill back on the scene with SHIELD it will be interesting to see where this takes the agents of shield series.

Finally, on to the villains…

Baron Von Strucker while having a minor role was a good starting point for the film.  Why not have a minor subplot with HYDRA before kicking into another threat?  I’ve welcomed this with the Spiderman movies and any characters that have a huge rogues gallery.

Ulyses S. Klau played by Andy Serkis had a story element that will directly lead in to Black Panther.  They mentioned Wakanda, he had his arm torn off, and he’d stolen vibranium.  It is an excellent lead in that didn’t feel forced.

Ultron was easily the highlight of this film.  James Spader gave off the vibe that this robot was like a child with a god complex.  Designed to eliminate threats, the cliched “robot thinks it knows better by eliminating the human race” felt fresh here because of Ultron’s personality.  There were hints of logic, and Tony’s personality that made him unique in many ways.  So much so that it almost felt like Tony Stark was the villain at times.

Thanos had only a brief scene.  While it was not anywhere near one of the better credits scenes, it was something that laid ground for the next installment.

What else is there to say?  From the plot to the set ups of the next few movies and where the characters go personally, there is a lot packed in to 2 hours and 20 minutes.  Stan Lee‘s cameo was my favorite of them all, and that says something right there.  People have complained that Age of Ultron is not as good as the first Avengers movie, but it’s an unfair assessment.  These movies are entirely different from one another.  I feel that this tied up a lot of loose ends and opened the movie universe up to so much more potential.  In my opinion it exceeded Avengers 1 in many ways while not surpassing it in others.  It isn’t a perfect comic book movie, but it is damn close.  I give it 9.5 sCrypt Coffins out of 10.

If you have anything to add, please comment below.


Day 31: Happy Halloween 2014

2005Well, finally the 31 Days of Halloween has concluded.  We’ve shared some insights, information, teasers, had a hell of a lot of fun, and it all leads up to tonight.  Halloween has always been a big tradition in the Pipito houses.  We’ve had neighbors working with us on building attractions for the kids in the area to trick-r-treat through, and while we no longer have time to do that sort of thing, we still look forward to creating our own costumes.

 

Here’s a collage of our costumes over the years.  The only exception is that this year, Roberta (of http://www.homemadedelish.com) will be Malificent, and I and my son will be Sabretooth and Wolverine respectively.  My daughter already had her dress up with daddy, so Dracula and Draculaura make an appearance in the picture above.

 

I’ve also included a picture of Dan and Tara, since Dan is the other half of sCrypt Comics.  He really goes all out being the artist that he is, so you can see the designs he’s done below.  You can click on either image to make it larger.

 

What are you being for Halloween?

dan


Day 29: Top 5 for Halloween

For today’s installment of my 31 days of Halloween I made a top 5 list of my personal choices for film, book, etc.  These are stories that not only have entertained me, but inspired me to continuously try exceeding what I did and topping each previous book I write.  I tried to keep them as Halloween related as possible, and even though some aren’t horror, they fall into the thriller category and have spooky elements.  What are your personal choices?  Feel free to comment below.

TOP 5 NOVELS:  The “Area 51” series by Bob Mayer (writing as Robert Doherty), Dan Brown’s “Robert Langdon” series, Thomas Harris’ “Hannibal Lecter” series, The “Atlantis” series by Bob Mayer (writing as Greg Donegan), Dean Koontz’ “Frankenstein” series (please don’t watch the movie because it’s terrible the books are great though. *Bonus All novels in the FLESH AND LEFTOVERS SAGA by Rick Pipito (had to add them, sorry.)😛

 

TOP 5 TV SHOWS: Once Upon a Time, Arrow & The Flash (I put these as one because they crossover and exist in the same universe), 24, Law And Order SVU, Hannibal

 

TOP 5 GAMES: The “Tomb Raider” series, The “Resident Evil” Series, “Silent Hill”, “HeroQuest” (This is a board game I had growing up, and I just remember how awesome it was.  I recently found it in my parents’ attic), The “Doom” series.

 

TOP 5 SONGS: Dragula by Rob Zombie, Monster Mash by Bobby Pickett, Ghostbusters by Ray Parker Jr, Don’t Fear The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult (because everyone needs more cowbell), Mz. Hyde by Halestorm

 

TOP 5 MOVIES: Ghostbusters 1 & 2, The Goonies, Monster Squad, Van Helsing (Kate Beckinsale, Huge Jack Man, and monsters?  I don’t care if its cheesy.  It’s awesome), The Brendan Frasier Mummy Movies.

 

BONUS—-TOP 10 COMIC BOOK Movie List (in numbered order):

1) Captain America: The Winter Soldier

2) X-Men Days Of Future Past

3) Avengers

4) Ironman

5) Captain America: The First Avenger

6) Guardians Of The Galaxy

7) Man Of Steel

8) Spiderman 2

9) Thor The Dark World

10) Batman 1989

*This list is current as of 10/29/14 of course.  It will most likely change, but it is the order I believe works.  I wanted to put both Punisher movies in there as well just for pure fun, but they didn’t make the cut.


Day 26: What’s the Deal with the Stick Figures

sticksBack when we were working on the first sCrypt Comics spinoff, my brother and I had been having discussions about how everyone had those window sticker stick families on their cars.  It was overkill and I made the comment of “you think they’d do something different.”

 

A week later, Dan had made sure to have some stickers of his own printed up.  The zombie stick family began, and we threw it in the concept art pages as a joke.  Now with each installment, we add to the theme another family.  I did the ghost one, but still it was fun.

 

If you’d like your own window sticker, or other merchandise check out our online store at http://www.cafepress.com/scrypt


Day 25: Brews and Books

IMG_5541A follower messaged me and wondered where my post was on beer, since I put the Halloween themed wines up.  This weekend I tried a few great brews while discussing future plans with my brother.  From left to right: Round Guys Brewing Company, Stone Black IPA, Great Lakes Brewing Nosferatu, Guilty Filthy Soul Rye Porter, & Night of The Living Stout.

 

As a homebrewer myself I’ve appreciation for the varieties.  They all tasted great and were perfect for discussing the future of sCrypt Comics and where we’d like to go.  Do you have any recommendations?


Day 24: A good Blend

winesHere’s a little different post that I wanted to share for all of the wine lovers out there.  When I write and am in the mood, I’ve got a cup of coffee by my side.  When I’m enjoying my final work or relaxing, I prefer a glass of wine instead.

 

I’m quite picky with my wines, and I tend to shop with a certain mind set.  Then I started to see wines that had similar themes to my books.  I decided to pick up the bottles and try them out.  So far, I haven’t found a bad one.

 

From the left is Zombie Zin, Vampire Merlot, Ghost Pines Cabernet Sauvignon, Once Upon A Vine Big Bad Red Bled, Casillero del Diablo Merlot, Montes Cabernet Sauv, and Root 1 Cab Sav.

 

Since I’ve represented zombies, vampires, ghosts, werewolves, Demons, angels, and Eden, I’m still looking for a few others.  Does anyone know of any themed wines that might match with Technology, Pandora’s Box or anything else that would fit?  Feel free to comment and by all means, if you try the wines listed, post a review.

 

Raising a glass to you all on my birthday.  Cheers!


Review: Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter book series

f1afe703cd0f16a0cf4625681c306e9eThis review will be brief, but I finally had a chance to read Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter series.  I’ve been a fan of the movies for years, and of course watching the TV show Hannibal made me want to see how much was done according to the novels.  I chose this because the character in focus here is in my opinion one of the greatest villains ever created in fiction.  Here’s my brief thought on each book…

Hannibal Rising: This was the last one written in the series, but the first chronologically.  To me, I feel that Harris just rushed this one.  Yes, the background story and origin for why Hannibal is the way he is, feels complete… but there are points in the reading that had me going “wait, what the hell just happened?”  It was like some details were skipped and you wonder how the characters got where they were or what was happening just before.  As an overall story, I enjoyed it very much, but I’d never recommend the book… instead, I’d say to see the movie, because the film takes the best parts of it all and brings it to life.  Continuity error found as well… in the 3 books after this, it is a noted point that Hannibal has 6 fingers on one hand.  In Hannibal Rising I don’t recall this being mentioned once.

Red Dragon: Hannibal Lecter plays a small role in this book.  The movie version gave him a slightly larger role, but the book is actually better.  These events take place when Lecter is already captured and institutionalized.  He helps Special Agent Will Graham and the FBI to take down a serial killer named Francis Dolarhyde (aka the “Tooth Fairy”).  Lecter also warns Dolarhyde that they are onto him, so Hannibal plays both sides.  We are given hints at the past (which the tv series Hannibal really brings to life in detail), but we are also left at the end with a severely disfigured Will Graham.  In fact, the book ending was far superior to the movie ending, which the film captured well the book until this point.  I actually dislike the movie and prefer what was done in the book over this.  Of the four novels I’d place this book on an even field with Silence Of the Lambs.

The Silence Of The Lambs: The movie is really what sparked interest in this series, and it almost is dead on with what is in the book.  In other words, if you’ve seen the movie, you really don’t have to read the novel because other than the 6 finger issue on Hannibal’s hand, there is not much different.  This is an amazing psychological thriller that makes you almost cheer for the man who helps Clarice Starling to track down Jame Gum (aka Buffalo Bill).  I must say too that Buffalo Bill and The Tooth Fairy from the prior book, are more disturbing to me than Hannibal the Cannibal.  They are just mentally disturbed people while Hannibal is a clear thinking intelligent psychopath.

Hannibal: I’ll first say this.  The MAIN reason I read these books other than what I mentioned above was because It all ends here, and after watching the movies I was downright angry.  I have been hoping for a movie sequel to Hannibal for years but we wont probably ever get it.  I hated the ending to that movie because we never get to see what happens to Hannibal Lecter.  I hoped that the book would shed some light upon this.  Now overall, this was my favorite book… until the end.  You know that scene in the movie where Hannibal is feeding Ray Liotta’s character his own brain?  It’s in here, BUT from this scene on the book differs immensely.  I actually don’t know what is worse… the movie ending or the book ending.  In the book, Clarice falls for Hannibal, and ends up “dining” with him willingly.  Even with the two of them “riding off into the sunset” so to speak, I’m still left with a WTF feeling.  What happened to them?  Another story could be done here, and it should be.  If we are going to get Hannibal Rising to originate his beginnings, then why not have closure?  It’s almost like a tv series that you get bought into and then they cancel it with no real ending.  Sigh.  Plus, even though it is hinted at, I really want to know what happened to Doctor Chilton.

As a whole series I’d rate it at a high 7 out of 10 sCrypt coffins.  Individually they stand strong, but work better together.  I just wish that a followup would close it all out.  What do you think?  Have you read these novels?  If not, what did you think of the movies/tv series?  Feel free to comment.


Review and discussion: Guardians Of The Galaxy

GOTG-posterIf you don’t want to be spoiled as to certain plot points, then I recommend skipping to the last paragraph to get my overall spoilerfree review.  Otherwise, from here on out the discussion will be about major points in the movie, and I invite those who have seen it to comment below and add to the discussion.

I was always aware of the Guardians of the Galaxy in the comics, but never followed the characters or plots until the relaunch last year, where I picked up trade paperback to catch up and familiarize myself with them.  One of the taglines for this movie has been “The Star Wars for the current generation”.  I have to agree, but at the same time this movie is something that is very new and hasn’t been done before as a whole.  Sure, there are elements rehashed here and there, but if you want something fresh and unique, then stop reading now and go see it if you haven’t.  All happiness aside, I do have a few complaints about elements in the movie, so I’ll do a breakdown of the good and not so good (notice I didn’t say bad), and speculate on a few things to come.

The Plot was intelligently written, with plenty of action, humor and suspense.  The effects were visually stunning (though I can’t imagine seeing this in 3D.)  In regular format this was breathtaking but the fights (especially with Drax involved) were shaky camera at times, and the spinning spacecrafts in the aerial battles were dizzying at times.  I’m not saying this was bad, because it made you feel as if you were a part of it, but the problem with this is that for some people it is a turn off.  Myself included if I’m trying to follow whats going on screen.  In 2D it is great, but I think I’d puke in 3D.

The soundtrack was just plain awesome.  I loved all the songs in there (I’m partially biased because I grew up listening to a lot of those), and it worked, also setting up a new similar soundtrack for the next movie.  The Easter Eggs and tying into the existing Marvel Comics movie universe were fanboy/girlgasmic.  I’ll get into that in my character breakdown, which begins now:

Peter Quill/Starlord: Chris Pratt plays the sarcastic, egotistical Quill very well.  He brings the perfect amalgamation of Captain James T Kirk, Indiana Jones & in his own words “Marty McFly” together.  The movie shows his evolution from a shy kid to what will become a decent leader.  I personally could have done without the over the top cheesy dance sequence in the beginning.  After Spiderman 3 I could do nothing but put my head in my hands when I saw this happening at the beginning.  Somehow, I didn’t mind it as much during the final faceoff with Ronan.

Gamora: Even with prosthetic facial enhancements and green skin, Zoe Saldana is still appealing to the eye.  Aside from her beauty though, she kicked some major ass, just as you would expect from the adopted daughter of Thanos.  I even enjoyed the little bit of tension between her and Starlord.  I just hope they don’t give into it too much in the future.  It’s nice to have that unresolved extra angle in there.

Drax The Destroyer: I’ll admit that when I heard Dave Bautista was going to be Drax, I shivered.  I didn’t want to see a wrestler whom I felt had little to no acting ability taking on a character like Drax (who has little to no personality).  Yeah, you see my problem there?  I was wrong.  Bautista nailed the part.  I actually wanted him to have more screen time.  My only problem with Drax in this movie was some of his lines in the beginning.  They seemed a bit too forced but this was a writing issue.  I know Drax speaks strangely, but the first few lines he delivered were sub par in dialogue.

Groot: While I held out hope that Vin Diesel would play a big baddie for Marvel at some point, his delivery of “I Am GROOT” was awesome each time it happened.  It wasn’t overdone, and Groot’s special effects looked amazing.  I am left wondering though if some of his abilities in the movie were indeed in the comics as well.  I’m not too familiar with the character other than I knew he could be planted to grow again once destroyed.  Speaking of which, the end of the movie, while unnecessary made me smile.  I really enjoyed watching baby Groot swinging to the music.

Rocket Raccoon: I wish we’d have had a little more background on Rocket himself, but his presence was welcome for every second.  I forgot Bradley Cooper was doing his voice because he seemed like his own little furry personality.  A little bit selfish, a little bit of a dick, and just all around rabid feistiness made his part of the team the highlight.

Ronan The Accuser: I remember this villain from many Fantastic Four comics, and knew how menacing and deadly he could be.  My problem in this movie wasn’t the portrayal of him.  I think Lee Pace did an excellent job.  The problem for me is that they are building up Thanos to be a massive badass (which he is), and the guardians plus an entire planet of Nova corps could barely beat Ronan.  So then how the hell will the universe be able to battle Thanos at this point?  I can’t imagine a movie big enough to do that.  With my faith in Marvel I will have to wait and see.  His presence proves that the body in Agents of SHIELD tv show was a Kree alien, so now with that cleared up we will have to wait.  I loved his look in GOG and the wise use of his hammer and abilities.  Even Drax couldn’t stand up to him and that was before Ronan used the infinity stone (gem).

Yondu and Nebula: Both of these characters played by Michael Rooker and Karen Gillan respecitvely added to the whole plot, and I’m glad that they will both be most likely playing a role in the sequel.  I really loved the space pirate feel that Yondu gave off, and Nebula’s battle with Gamora was something I could watch over and over just for the tactics alone.

The Nova Corps:  While I cannot stand John C Reilly, he surprisingly didn’t irritate the hell out of me in this movie.  I thought his presence would have dumbed it down, especially with his delivery in the trailers, but again I was proven wrong.  He was used well, and while I didn’t see him as a serious Nova Corps member, he was a welcome addition.  There was plenty of setup here with Glenn Close’s Nova Prime and the destruction of most of the city that a path has been paved to have the main Nova (Richard Rider) become a defender of earth in the sequel.  Especially with Yondu and Quill’s dad probably wanting to destroy the planet in the sequel.

The Collector: Benicio Del Toro’s role was smaller than I anticipated, but it was more than a glorified cameo.  In fact, his entire base of operations was full of cameos including: Slither, Howard The Duck, and Cosmo the Spacedog.  Oh yes and one of multiple references to Celestials.  I can’t wait til the dvd to pause and see what else is in there.  I understand that Adam Warlock’s coccoon (first seen in Thor 2 ending) was now open, leaving his presence open for the future.  The infinity stones (gems) were finally explained here.  I’ll touch on that in a few minutes.

Thanos: I’m not sold on the whole CGI thing, but Josh Brolin’s delivery and the life he brought to Thanos is downright frightening.  The fact that this could end up being the most powerful villain we’ve ever seen on screen is a scary thought, but one I’m anticipating greatly.

That being touched upon, what do we know and where can it go?  The infinity Gems.  Let’s see.  The Tesseract from Captain America and the Avengers movies was the Space Gem (now in the hands of Loki who also has the gauntlet used to contain the gems).  We know that now.  We also know that Malekith The Dark Elf was using the Aether to change the universe in his image and liking.  Hence the Reality Gem (In the hands of the Collector).  Ronan used the Power Gem in Guardians of the Galaxy to give him enhanced powers (in the Nova Corps safe).  Loki’s Staff in the Avengers had the Mind Gem in it.  This was not confirmed by Marvel, however they said that it could be.  It only makes sense, AND I can argue this with anyone and prove it if they want to debate it.  I’d invite the discussion actually.  Anyway, the Mind Gem is in the presence of Baron Von Strucker (we see this at the end of CAptain America 2.)  Now with there being six gems in all, that leaves the Soul Gem and the Time Gem.

I think one of these (most likely the soul Gem) will be used in the Doctor Strange movie.  It’s been confirmed for 2016 this movie will be an “acid trip” unlike any other movie.  Delving into magic and the soul will make this movie completely unique and it only makes sense to tie in this gem with whoever else will be a part of it.

As far as the Time Gem, I don’t want to speculate too much about Avengers Age Of Ultron, but if they do anything similar to the comic storyline of Age of Ultron, then Time Travel could be involved.  Did earth somehow get a hold of the Time gem to use?  Why do I say this?  In the little footage we have seen of this movie, there is a scene where everyone but Tony Stark is dead.  That’s what it appears to be.  Could he reverse time and change that or maybe Scarlet Witch will alter the probability that this is what happens.  Who knows.  The Antman movie is supposed to happen around the same time as well, so maybe Hank Pym will have had it in his lab and is studying it.  Only TIME will tell. 🙂

There are also 5 unannounced films coming before 2019 by Marvel, and that is in addition to Captain America 3 and Guardians of The Galaxy 2.  One of these will obviously be Avengers 3.  Another I think would HAVE to be Black Panther.  Thor 3 is also in there as most likely.  So what about the last 2?  I’d like to see a female Ms. Marvel movie in there.  All of that should come before the last 2019 movie, which could be called “THE THANOS IMPERATIVE”.  It’d be a great long buildup to a part one movie.  This could literally be centered around Thanos gathering the gems.  It would be a part one and then for 2020 they could bring in part 2 “THE INFINITY WAR”.  Now…. the ONLY way that this can happen and even be thinkable as a way to defeat Thanos with his gems is to have everyone in existence team up.  No, we don’t need people like Hawkeye or even Captain America.  What we need is Thor, Hulk, Adam Warlock and Nova, Ms. Marvel, Doctor Strange, and a few others to go against Thanos.  Maybe even Loki who will want the power for himself will join in the attack against the Mad Titan (after all, Thanos will have to steal from him to get what he wants).  I even hold out hope that some of the rights to other characters will revert to Marvel, but who knows.

So what do you think?  After this long winded review and speculation, I have to give it a rating.  Originally I was going to give this movie a point lower, but BECAUSE of it’s originality and the ballsy move that Marvel made taking the chance on such a masterpiece, I’m going to give it 8 out of 10 sCrypt coffins.  Please, comment and feel free to discuss your own speculations and feelings toward the movie.