Archive for the ‘comics’ Category

(grumplet) Up, Up and Straight Up My Ass: Kick-Ass

May 5, 2010


There comes a point in every genre where¬†straightforward explorations of the genre’s tropes and variations¬†are abandoned and you enter a period of deconstruction. Look at the difference between something like classic Golden or Silver Age Superman and Alan Moore’s Watchmen. One’s a simple, honest story and the other’s a story about stories that came before it, perfectly post-modern. It’s taken until now for big screen comic book adaptations to reach the same level of self-awareness and post-modern snark that modern comics have been, and the result is the recent Kick-Ass. But why should you care?

Dual-wielding dildoes


Up, Up and Straight Up My Ass – Superman Returns: To Be Boring

December 8, 2008

Look, up there in the sky! It’s a reboot! It’s a sequel! No… it’s another tepid Superman movie.


Superman was in limbo (or the Phantom Zone, if you prefer) for almost two decades after the world at large recoiled from Superman IV in disgust after waking up from a decade’s worth of coke-filled binges which are the only explanation I can think of for Superman’s Pryor prior success. All we were left with was a steaming crater that was filled by the worst television series ever. After Burton swooped in a few years later and reinvigorated the idea of superhero movies and a collection of sweaty-palmed DC editors decided to kill off Superman in the early 90s, the cogs were set in motion for Superman’s eventual big screen revival.

Burton, the superhero “it” boy, was originally approached to direct a movie supposedly titled Superman Lives! written by Kevin Smith. The nitty gritty of how doomed this venture was is best detailed by Smith himself in An Evening with Kevin Smith, but a few gems polar bear mentioning. Burton wanted to basically turn Superman into a sci-fi space opera with Superman (played by Nicholas Cage?!) wearing a redesigned, futuristic suit and fighting against the monster Doomsday on Krypton. And somehow this would all involve giant spiders and a Superman that never flew.

Fortunately, that project collapsed. And so did the myriad of rumored attempts between that and what eventually became Superman Returns. There’s no real way for me to know what really did go down, but IMDB listed fauxteurs McG and Brett Ratner as directors that made it into pre-production. Most of the scripts apparently dealt with Superman’s death and return, because he isn’t already enough like Jesus. The most cockamamie thing I heard from this period was that J.J. Abrams had been tapped to write a script that involved Superman and Kryptonian civil wars and Lex Luthor would be an FBI agent that was secretly a fellow Kryptonian or some nonsense like that.

After all that failed, WB asked the one guy that seemed to have the best track record with superhero movies at the time: Bryan Singer, the man who had built X-Men up into a respectable franchise. Although Singer was already committed to X-Men 3, who could blame him for abandoning ship and choosing to tackle Superman instead? Superman’s an ICON. You don’t get a crack at interpreting Superman every day and he’d already made two successful X-Men movies, why bother making a third? I’ll always have to wonder, though, what kind of world we’d be living in if we’d gotten the Singer-directed X-Men 3 and Ratner had followed through on Superman. Because what ended up happening was just tragic for everyone.

In space, no one can hear you bore



September 9, 2008

With Batman Begins director Christopher Nolan undoes a decade of damage done by Warner Bros.’ stooges by centering the story around the goddamn Batman. Like Tim Burton, Nolan applies all of his auteurist fetishes to the beloved character, but they’re a far better fit for the “realistic” approach he attempts. Issues of obsession, identity, memory, self-delusion and repetition – favorite themes of his found in more concentrated form in Memento and The Prestige – litter the screenplay, co-written by Nolan himself and Blade Trilogy mastermind David S. Goyer. By bringing the story back to the beginning of Bruce Wayne’s life, and the circumstances of his transformation, a live-action Batman movie, for the first time, has a clear and focused narrative. Everything is explained, but never to the point of exhaustion. The costume, the vehicle, each gadget, every single facet is painstakingly explored so you care more about Bruce Wayne and his plight, so that there is no disconnect between him and his alter-ego Batman. It’s an approach that has become shorthand in Hollywood in recent years for “better movie than we would’ve got in the 90s”, or, the franchise “reboot”. The guys in charge of Iron Man, James Bond, Star Trek and pretty much every other franchise/character out there definitely took note.

Ohmygod what is going on


Gotham Knight – Batmanime ^_^

July 5, 2008

Short version: Gotham Knight sucks.

Long, painful version: Gotham Knight is the latest direct-to-DVD release to sport the DC Universe Animated Original Movie label. Yeah, a real mouthful. Universe Animated Original…blah. Too many vowels. The label bears no relation, continuity-wise, to the DC animated universe (or DCAU) established by animators Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Glen Murakami and others. So these flicks have nothing to do with the stories told in Batman Beyond or Justice League Unlimited.

It’s a nifty idea to keep the enormous roster of DC characters and stories alive in animation but limited run times, inferior writing and some just plain bad voice work keep these alternate universe movies – just Superman: Doomsday and Justice League: The New Frontier so far – from being anything more than a rental.

Gotham Knight is the latest stab at this DC character cartoon thing. Besides it’s obvious cross-market tie-in with The Dark Knight the biggest thing about Gotham Knight is the anime aesthetic. It consists of six short cartoons done in the anime style from various animation studios, written by bonafide comic book authors like Josh Olson (A History of Violence), Greg Rucka (Queen and Country, Batman: Death and the Maidens) and Brian Azzarello (100 Bullets, a heavy-handed run of Superman with artist Jim Lee). Listening to the guys behind the project talk about it you’d think they were on to something momentous. Indeed, the potential for a “Batmanime” is vast. (The potential is usually vast for animation – budget and imagination is your limit. So it’s a wonder why, considering the tons of work it takes to make an animated production, so much of it is so bad.) They set out their goals: Bring Batman into anime, bring anime to a whole new audience, explore all new creative possibilities! And the names involved. Bruce Timm, one of the DCAU founding fathers, returns in a vague “executive producer” role. The voice of Batman, Kevin Conroy, returns to bring the Bat to life once more. The back of the box claims “6 Interlocking Stories. 6 Acclaimed Directors. One Groundbreaking Masterpiece.”

Hoo boy, well, forgive me for being disappointed.


Evangelion: Absolute Waiting FIELD

May 9, 2007

I first watched Evangelion when I was 14 years old, the same age as its main character, the weak and tormented Shinji Ikari. I wasn’t piloting giant bio-mechs but I was a dinky little high school freshman, alone and frustrated, and I had a hell of a tough time connecting with people; “Hedgehog’s dilemma.” I couldn’t help but parallel my own angst with Shinji’s. Yeah, I know. I’M SUCH A NURDLOL

Add sexual frustration, tension, various betrayals and love triangles up the wazoo and, well, Evangelion and me, we got something in common. Whenever I think of it, whenever it’s mentioned, my chest tightens and I sigh. I’m inextricably linked to it. I imagine a lot of other people are too, seeing how its popularity never once waned since its Japanese debut so long ago. Now, I’m a college senior and, to be frank, I’m still hedgehogging. I actually sorta miss high school, I love to run, but my balls are bluer than a summer sky. At least the tenth volume of the Evangelion manga came out. FINALLY. So all you other Shinjis out there, rise up!