The works of Award winning author, Rick Pipito, and more

Posts tagged “Spiderman

Day 23 #authorlifemonth – 5 Star reads

There’s a few 5 star books I’ve read recently, and they range in genre.

First up is “The Patchwork Girl of Oz.”  I’ve been reading L. Frank Baum’s Oz novels along with my daughter.  I have her choose a character in the book to be, and she reads those lines, while I read the rest aloud to her.  For this book she was Scraps, the patchwork girl; Bungle, the glass cat; and Dorothy Gale.  It’s one of my favorite books in the series so far, second only to the Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Second is a return to my childhood, as I read “Spider-Man: Maximum Carnage” with my son.  He is the role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man, and has loved every page.  It’s one of my favorite Spidey stories to date.

Next is H.G. Well’s “The Time Machine.”  It was the first classic movie I remember watching, and one of my favorite all time books.  When I began writing my next novel (A COURSE FOR HUMANITY – will be available next month), I wanted to check out some already existing time travel stories, and this was one of them.  I always find researching through fiction is just as important as through fact, because you don’t want to do something someone else has already done.  What fun would that be and where would be the originality?

As research goes, I do always try to base as much of my Fiction work in fact, so I also read “Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy”.  If you’re a science geek, then this is for you, but if you aren’t this is still an interesting and informative book.

What is on your shelf?  What have you read recently?  Share in the comments below.

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Review: The Amazing Spiderman

Last week I posted my review of the previous Spiderman Trilogy.  Now I bring my thoughts about the reboot.  First off, there will be some spoiler material, so please scroll down to the last paragraph if you just want my rating.  Here is the breakdown.

The casting was outstanding.  Not once did I feel that any of these actors didn’t do their jobs.  My only concern was the role of Peter Parker.  I think Andrew Garfield played the part well, but I’m not sure if I totally buy him as Parker.  He’s a bit over the top with cockiness.  Emma Stone would have made a perfect Mary Jane Watson in a future movie, but her portrayal of Gwenn Stacey was perfect.  All of the other actors (and I don’t need to list the names) I can say were just well done for casting.  Aunt May could have been a little older, but I like where they are going with Sally Field in that role.

The Plot.  This is where the movie fails in my opinion.  Was the plot good?  Yes, in fact it was great.  It was even better than the first Tobey Maguire Spiderman movie.  So why does this fail?  Well, it WAS the first Tobey Maguire movie.  We really didn’t need the origin story again.  The villain was scripted out in almost the same way, and the new elements that they included seemed to be shadowed by the “Damn, I already saw this movie” feeling.  IF Spiderman hadn’t been done before, then this movie would have been great!  They should have made it a sequel, not a reboot.  Here’s to hoping they correct that mistake in the future.

Visual effects were amazing.  I didn’t get to see it in 3D, but I could see where parts of the film would have been cool in that format.  The web swinging and action felt more natural than the previous trilogy.  I would have liked it to be a little less dark and more daytime, but I can’t complain about how it looked otherwise, because that was the directors call.

Continuity with the comics.  I don’t know much about the Ultimate Spiderman comics, as I was a huge fan of the original growing up.  That being said, I am familiar with certain aspects.   Web shooters being in this movie were a fanboy’s dream come true.  How and where he was bitten by the spider, eh… I can get past that.  After all it is someone else’s interpretation.  Most of the elements were done in the same way.  The only REAL problem I had with the continuity was the Lizard’s look.  I don’t mind the way he looked, but wish that by the third time he injected himself, some kind of snout would have formed.  In fact, my wife turned to me mid movie and said, “If he is a lizard, they should have given him a snout.”  Okay, my wife never knew what the Lizard looked like in the comics, but she knows her animals.  Therefore, common sense would tell anyone that the decision might have been slightly subpar.

Direction and use of characters:  Marc Webb really did bring the Amazing into the title.  As I said earlier, this would have been the best spiderman movie to date IF IF IF it hadn’t been done already.  I wanted to see a new story.  All I got was a new villain and a too cocky peter parker.  I DO love that we didn’t get a repeat villain though, and I hope it remains this way.  The addition of the mid credits scene was cool too.  My thoughts on who that was?  Well Webb announced who it wasn’t, so I will narrow it down to two villains who could appear and disappear like that.  Villain for TASM2 will be either Electro or Mysterio based on that scene.

Acting as I said was superb, and worked on every level.  My criticism of Andrew Garfield wasn’t on his acting ability.  He just had to work with the script he was given.  His emotional scenes felt real, he looked as though he was in pain, and you really felt for him in his time of struggles.

The music was perfect for the picking too.  The only scene where music didn’t feel right to me was when he was skating through the halls of his school.  Even that wasn’t too out of place.

The audience could relate to what the protagonists had to endure emotionally, and there was enough in there to set up other stories.  I really want to see what happened to Richard and Mary Parker in this version.  I hope they don’t forget that either.  When I was a kid, I remember when he found out his parents were alive.  It was an emotional roller coaster, and I think they could play this out well for the next endeavor and the following one.  The genetics stuff and hints at Norman Osborn, really make me think that he wasn’t “sick” as they said.  I think he is building an army to do his bidding.  Perhaps there are six of them and quite sinister at that… (sorry, always wanted to see that on the screen).  I could see it now.  The Amazing Spiderman vs. The Sinister Six.

All in all, I have to give this movie two ratings.  The first rating is what the movie is worth in my book.  For that I give it a 9 out of 10.  My second rating is because it was the same stuff seen on a different day.  and for that I give it a 7 out of 10.  Just as a reference, the original Tobey Maguire Spiderman movie was given my 8 of 10 rating, so I guess this incarnation tied for that spot.  I think we are in for a good ride to come, and can’t wait until the next chapter.


A look back at Raimi’s Spiderman Trilogy

by Rick Pipito

Sam Raimi created the Spiderman movie universe as we know it today, and although The Amazing Spiderman is an entire reboot, the man deserves a round of applause (in most cases).  Let’s take a look at all three Spiderman films by Raimi, and assess them as a whole.

I’ve come up with a new grading system for my movie ratings, and will apply it here.

1. CASTING: Tobey Maguire IS Spiderman/Peter Parker.  I’m not knocking Andrew Garfield at all, but I don’t think you could pick a more fitting actor than Maguire.  The second he was cast in the roll, I said, “This is going to be epic.”  and he proved that thought.

Kirsten Dunst on the other hand was not in my opinion Mary Jane Watson.  She is a great actress don’t get me wrong, and she is attractive, but MJ was the girl I grew up with in the comics.  She was drawn to be a very sexy model and was womanly in every aspect of her look.  Dunst did not make my childhood fantasies come real, as I didn’t see her that way.  Still, she did a fine job acting, I just wish they would have thought about this casting.

Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborne/Green Goblin.  As the Goblin, I thought he was perfect when it came to voice and him playing the part (I really like the test mask they did and wish they would have used that instead of the power ranger we got, but I got used to it).  He didn’t have much screen time as a sane Norman Osborne, so that one is hard to judge.

James Franco as Harry Osborne / The New Goblin.  No, no and no.  Look, he’s a great actor and I have immense respect for his talent, but as Harry?  No.  His Goblin portrayal didn’t even fit the comic part.

Alfred Molina as Doctor Otto “Octopus” Octavius was perfect.  Other than Elton John looking the part, Molina was  a great selection.

Topher Grace as Venom/Eddie Brock.  NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!  I don’t want to say anymore.  Why was he so small?  BAD CASTING!

Thomas Hayden Church as Flint Marko aka Sandman.  Perfect Casting.  I was excited about this as much as about Tobey/Spidey.

Other roles:  J Jonah Jameson, Robbie Robertson, Betty Brant, Bone Saw McGraw, Uncle Ben, Aunt May, Curt Connors, Gwenn Stacey and Captain Stacey were all excellent choices in my mind.  Flash Thompson not so much.  He didn’t do a bad job, I just didn’t think he looked the part, and wasn’t as dumb as he seemed in comics.

2.  The PLOTs:

Spiderman 1’s plot was an origin story.  They did everything they could to fit in what needed to be, and it worked well.  Spiderman 2’s plot in my opinion was the best of the three.  It was original and felt like Peter really had challenges ahead of him, and really spoke of originality.  Spiderman 3 started out great and then somehow joined my previous night’s dinner in the crap filled sewers.  They had potential, but jammed way too much in there.  It was rushed, and because of this, they strayed too far from the comics.

3. VISUAL EFFECTS:

All three movies really shine here.  I have no complaints at all about any of these.

4: CONTINUITY WITH THE COMICS:

Every fan wants their favorite stories to be interpreted correctly.  Where most of the following complaints are outweighed by everything else, there are some problems I had.  Green Goblin looked like a power ranger, and the New Goblin was downright awful looking.  Uncle Ben’s killer being revealed in the third one as the Sandman was terrible.  Organic web shooters?  I hated it, but realized why they did it and learned to accept it.  Genetically altered spider instead of radioactive?  Not a bad change.  Venom speaking normally instead of in the third person, and having too much of Topher face time was a disappointment.  Not to mention that they killed him too quickly and he should have gotten another movie.  Oh, and Sandman does NOT fly!!!!  The end of the first movie with Goblin on the bridge was a great tribute to the comics, but brings in my next point… MJ should not have been the first girlfriend.  What about Betty Brant?  She was in the movie.  What about Gwenn Stacey who didn’t show up til the third and should have been on the bridge in the first?  What about Felicia Hardy?  Too much skipped over to have a whiney Peter Parker sulk in his spandex by the middle of the third movie.  The Venom symbiote would have been easily done with Jameson’s son returning from space, but for some reason they didn’t do that.  When Peter became violent with the Black suit though, they got that right.

5. DIRECTION AND USE OF CHARACTERS:

Direction wise, Sam Raimi did a great job overall.  He made some vital errors in the third one, but I blame that on Sony for rushing what he wanted to do, and insisting that he make Venom a main character instead of setup for the next movie.  Also, Peter Parker’s little mood swing and dance scene was ridiculous.  Look, I love ridiculous humor, but Spidey is already sarcastic.  Why make him annoying?  Some of it was a bit over the top, but acceptable, and I’d have liked Betty Brant played by Elizabeth Banks to have a bigger role.  Despite costume changes, I think he captured the essence of the characters.  EXCEPT for Venom not speaking in the third person. Did I mention that already?  Yes I did.  It bothered me too.  Other than that, he updated the stories to fit well in current society at the time.

6. ACTING:

All of the acting was done well.  My only two problems were with James Franco and Tobey Maguire.  Franco seemed a little too dry in his portrayal of Harry.  His emotions were often unbelievable.  And speaking of emotions, Tobey played a little too much of a cry baby.  Sure both of these can be blamed on the director, but the actors are at fault as well.

7. MUSIC:

From Danny Elfman’s musical compositions to the selection of songs in the movies, there could not have been better soundtracks.

8. HOW THE AUDIENCE CAN RELATE:

Look, the bottom line is that in order to have a great movie, the audience needs to relate to it in some way.  They need to like the characters or hate them and understand to some extent what is going on at an emotional level.  The death of Uncle Ben, Peter’s Financial troubles, juggling school work and a job, having a boss that is ungrateful and being bullied are all things that the audience could sympathize with.  You really do feel bad for Peter Parker at times throughout these movies.  Then there is that award winning upside down kiss in the rain.  It’s probably the best movie kiss in history, and melts all the ladies’ hearts.  At an even other level, in Spiderman 3, Peter is an emotional wreck with the black suit.  That is when the audience feels like screaming, “Stop being a sissy!”  It is almost laughable, yet on all fronts, the emotion was present, and people could relate.

9. EASTER EGGS:

For any of you who might not know, an Easter egg in a movie is a hidden item, reference or inside joke between the director and the fans.  The Spidey movies have plenty of them.  Let’s begin with Bruce Campbell.  He is a longtime friend of Sam Raimi’s, and the star of his Evil dead series.  He has had plenty of other work with the director as well and is considered the king of B movies.  “The Chin” as his fans call him, can be seen as the referee, the guard at the door to MJ’s play, and the French Maitre d in Spiderman 1, 2, and 3 respectively.

Stan Lee, who created most of the Marvel Comics universe, cameos as a guy who saves a girl from falling debris in Spiderman one.  He also had a cameo that was cut involving him selling a pair of sunglasses to a kid and saying, “It’s like the one they used in the X-men movies.”  In the third movie, Stan the Man is reading a newspaper and turns to Peter to say, “You know, I guess one man really can make a difference… Nuff Said.”

Other actors make cameos, but Lucy Lawless, who played Xena, in Sam Raimi’s series, appears as a punkrocker.  And the guy who has his pizza webbed away by Spiderman is also the guy who cowrote evil dead 2 with Raimi.

These easter eggs are mostly more for the Raimi fans, but they are there nonetheless and amusing.

10. OVERALL THOUGHTS

At first, when I saw Spiderman 1 I was a little disappointed.  I’m not sure why.  I think the changes like the webshooters and green goblin’s look bothered me and I initially couldn’t overlook that.  Or maybe it was the company I had.  At a second watching, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  SPIDERMAN WAS REAL!  Sure, I may have said a lot of negative things about Spiderman 3, but I enjoyed it more than most people.  The second film for me was the best.

I wish that Raimi would have been able to redeem himself in a fourth entry, but Sony chose to reboot instead.  I am eager to see The Amazing Spiderman, and post a review soon.  So what are my ratings for the existing trilogy?  I give Spiderman 8 points out of 10.  For Spiderman 2 I’ll give it a 9 out of 10, and Spiderman 3 gets my rating of 4 out of 10.  Overall, I believe Sam Raimi gave us a 7 out of 10 trilogy.  It was worthy of redemption instead of reboot, but hopefully since we aren’t getting that, the new take keeps bringing in new baddies and fan pleasing things.  Sorry, Tobey.  No Spiderman 4 for you…

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Review: What If The Alien Costume Had Possessed Spiderman?

Review by Rick Pipito

Marvel Comics What If… Issue # 4 (Oct 1989)

When I was growing up, some of my favorite comics were the What If series by Marvel.  The Watcher presented each story of “What If” by focusing on an event in the mainstream universe and presenting a hypothetical of what could have happened (or did in another universe).  I recently picked up an issue at a garage sale, and it was perhaps one of the most interesting ones I have ever seen.  “What If The Alien Costume Had Possessed Spiderman?”  There will be SPOILERS in this review, so skip down to the last paragraph if you just want my rating.

The story begins with a brief list of events in the normal universe; about how Spiderman aqcuired the Black symbiote costume and eventually got rid of it, which attached itself to Eddie Brock as Venom.  Well in this story, he never gets rid of it.  When Peter Parker becomes more and more fatigued, he is forced to go to Curt Connors for help.  The Doctor studies the symbiote and eventually puts him through a series of X-Rays and scans.  This is where it all goes wrong.

Apparently the X-Rays cause the symbiote to become more like a parasite, and inseparable from the host.  Night after night, Spiderman goes on a violent rampage as Venom until Venom decides it no longer needs its host.  Across the country, The Avengers and Doctor Strange prepare to send the Hulk to another dimension.  The rampaging beast has buried Banner’s mind deep within himself and can no longer be reasoned with.  Venom/Spiderman shows up and stops it all from happening.  Then the symbiote switches hosts to the HULK!?!?!

At this point I couldn’t believe it.  I’d always imagined what would happen if the symbiote attached itself to someone with the Hulk’s power.  Well now I know.  Venom/Hulk takes off, leaving Peter Parker as an old withered man.  Venom has drained his youth, and he soon dies from old age.  The Avengers go on a massive search now for the Venom Hulk and it is Thor who finds him.  One strike from his mighty Mjolnir hammer separates the symbiote from Banner.  Bruce Banner hasn’t aged in the way that Peter Parker has, but instead is now cured of the Hulk.  With the combined power of SPiderman and The Hulk, Venom begins an internal battle with the god of Thunder, as it has chosen its next host.

They go off into a cave to allow the symbiote enough time to completely bond to Thor.  Meanwhile, two things are happening.  Spiderman’s funeral passes, and Reed Richards is devising a plan to separate the alien without harming the host.  The seemingly impossible task proves to be not so difficult with the mind of Mr. Fantastic at work.  The inhuman known as Blackbolt displays the true power of his voice, and not only crumbles the entire historical site of Mount Rushmore, but knocks the symbiote off of Thor and renders it unconscious.

After all of that you would think they would just kill the alien, but instead they decide to imprison it in another dimension.  That never happens.  Blackcat shows up and does what should be done.  She uses technology invented by Reed Richards to kill Venom once and for all.  Keep in mind that this story takes place back when Peter Parker and Black Cat are dating, so she has close emotional ties to the villain.  The downside to all of this is that in order to use the technology Reed invented, she had to steal the notes on it.  A brief agreement with The Kingpin (for him to reconstruct the device) leaves her with the return promise of a life of crime for the Kingpin.

It is a tragic ending that works well for the story.  I only wish that there would have been a little more hints as to what was going to happen after all of these events.  It is not a mainstream universe story, so I can’t give it as high of a rating as I normally would, but for its creativity I rate it as a good 5 out of 10.


Superman and Spiderman?!?

PUBLISHER: DC COMICS AND MARVEL COMICS

Page Count: 96 pages

Year Published: 1975

Reviewed by Rick Pipito based on plot points

To show that I am not biased toward either company, Marvel or DC, I will begin my comic book reviews with this issue.  First thought would be, how could that even be a fair fight.  Superman is nearly invulnerable, and though Spiderman has enhanced abilities and a sixth sense, Superman is much faster.  The next question would be, why would these two heroes be fighting each other?  Be warned, that there will be spoilers in my review, so if you don’t want to know, then don’t read this post.

The story begins with Superman battling a giant robot in Metropolis.  This battle to me is a little ridiculous.  The bot leaves a path of destruction and tosses the Man of Steel around a little bit, but he is the Man of Steel.  With almost no effort at all, he is able to tear the giant machine apart.  I’m wondering with Supes’ many powers and if he destroyed such a thing, then how did it’s pilot, Lex Luthor, escape with a microchip from Star Labs?  That’s right, the villain got away too easily. 

At least Clark Kent doesn’t let things slip through his fingers.  After a fellow co-worker tries to pull a prank on the geeky reporter, Kent picks up on the prank and turns it around on his peer.  The bot battle from earlier in the day is all over the news and Kent suddenly gets an idea.  He changes back to Superman and follows the path of destruction left by the bot.  Okay, so why didn’t he do that before?  He finally locates his enemy, Lex Luthor, and outsmarts him to turn him in to the authorities. 

Meanwhile, Spiderman discovers a few thugs and interferes in their plans.  It is all a piece of cake until Doctor Octopus shows up and beats him in a quick fight.  The cops show up and of course blame an unconscious Spidey for the theft. 

The wall crawler can’t catch a break after he escapes the authorities, because as he changes to Peter Parker, his boss Jameson is just using the news to build his case against Spiderman.  Not a big surprise there.  What is surprising is that Parker gets fired from his job, and he ditches his girlfriend Mary Jane, to follow his Spider Sense.  Eventually this helps him to find and stop Doc Ock in an equally boring as the first battle.

Here is where it gets good.  Doctor Octopus and Lex Luthor are in the same prison, and have plans to escape.  Clark Kent and Peter Parker are at a convention in New York City, and meet for the first time.  But wait!  Superman shows up and uses his heat vision to disintegrate Mary Jane and Lois Lane!  How can this be?

The men are devastated and show up as their hero alter egos.  Spiderman saw “Superman” commit this horrible act and begins attacking him.  Luthor and Doc Ock are watching all of this, and hit Spidey with a bit of Red Sun light.  This enables his attacks against the Man Of Steel to do great damage.  The battle is pretty cool too.  Watching both heroes at each others throats is amusing enough, but when the Red Sun light wears off, Spidey shatters the bones on both his hands with quick punches to Superman’s invulnerable face.

They soon realize that they have been set up, and go on a worldwide hunt for the pair behind the heinous act.  Here is my issue with this part.  If Spiderman and Superman really were to lose the women they love the most, would they really be as agreeable as they were?  Both barely look upset other than Spidey’s attack on Supes. 

When they locate the villains in a space station, they find that the ladies are in fact alive.  As a reader I was not surprised, but relieved to know that two of the hottest and coolest chicks that don’t have powers in comics, were still safe. 

Watching Superman and Spiderman team up against Doctor Octopus and Lex Luthor was spine tingling.  I loved every frame of the action.  Then there is disappointment.  Luthor is one of the most level headed villains of all time in that he thinks his plans through before executing them.  So why in the hell would he want to destroy all of the planet Earth?  It doesn’t make sense because it would gain him nothing.  Even Doc Ock thinks it is insane.

In the end, the villains are carried off to jail and the heroes and their female halfs walk together as mild mannered citizens.  The end even gives a slight hint that we may see the pairing again in the future. 

All in all, this was a very fun read, although slightly non believable in parts.  For the fact of the two companies working together, it is a must read for a fan of either Superman or Spiderman.  An entertaining 6 out of 10 in my opinion.

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE HERO: SUPERMAN OR SPIDERMAN?

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE VILLAIN: DOCTOR OCTOPUS OR LEX LUTHOR?