What If MAN OF STEEL Had Been In Color?

man-of-steel

Man of Steel had a lot of problems, and unfortunately Batman v. Superman looks to replicate some of them and add a few more. Which is a shame because Henry Cavill is an awesome Superman and Ben Affleck looks great as Batman.

These folks color-corrected Man of Steel to see how it would look if it were spared Zack Snyder’s monochromatic dreariness. It actually looks like a Superman movie, which would have been nice, though it still would have been a Superman movie in which Clark Kent just stands there and watches his dad be killed by a tornado.

You Have Failed This Series: Why ARROW Kinda Sucks

Arrow

I want to love Arrow, I really do.

Green Arrow has always been one of my favorite DC heroes, and I’m thrilled that he’s got his own very successful TV show which, to be fair, is a damn sight better than it might have been. But that doesn’t mean that it’s as good as it should be.

My relationship with the show has run hot and cold. I watched the first seven episodes and quit. Later, during the second season, several friends recommended I give it another try, reassuring me it had gotten a lot better, so I went back and watched everything from the point I’d stopped. And I was glad I did, because it was getting better, and by the end of second season, it was pretty great. I went into the third season excited to see what the show’s creators would do next, and then things got painful.

Eleven episodes in, basically halfway through the season, I quit again. That was several weeks ago, and this week I decided to give it another chance to get better again, and I’ve now watched up through the season’s thirteenth episode, “Canaries.” And it’s still not must-see TV.

Before getting into what’s wrong with the show, I want to mention some things that are right about it… Continue reading

Batman Strange Days (A New Bruce Timm cartoon)

Last week, I posted a short cartoon Bruce Timm and Zack Snyder made last year to celebrate Superman’s 75th anniversary. I mentioned also that a Timm-directed Batman short — commemorating the Dark Knight’s 75th — was due to be released shortly.

Click on the image below to watch Batman Strange Days, with Timm-style Batman animation applied, I believe, to a story from way back in 1939…

Batman Strange Days

The Joker’s Cold, Cold Heart (ABC Wednesday & Song of the Week, 3/21/14)

The JokerThis week’s ABC Wednesday comes on Friday due to indecision and scheduling conflicts, and I’m combining it with the Song of the Week for efficiency’s sake.

I just completed the video game Batman: Arkham Origins. I’d gone into it with lowered expectations because, unlike the earlier Arkham games, this wasn’t written by the great Paul Dini, and it wasn’t developed by the original outfit, Rocksteady, but by a new developer using Rocksteady’s technical assets. I wasn’t just pleasantly surprised, I was blown away. The writing is probably the best in the games, with a strong storyline and some deeper insight into the characters’ minds; this is a grittier Arkham game (if that’s possible), with a more mature outlook. It operates on a more street-level scale than even Arkham City did, and does wondrous things with a full roster of Batman villains. And it has, by far, the best (and least video-gamey) boss fights in the series.

Most notable was the Joker. Now, for years Mark Hamill has owned this part both in animated and game forms. The fact that he wasn’t doing the vocals here was another point of trepidation. But let me tell you, Troy Baker is a phenomenal new Joker, playing the role with a similar manic energy but imbuing it with a subtle raspy cruelty that, I think, actually suits the character better. This Joker is genuinely creepy, and you get to play through Batman’s very first encounter with him. It’s really astonishing stuff. And if you play, just wait until you get to the Joker’s lair…it’s epic.

So, in celebration of Jokers past and present, I offer up this dark little number for song of the week.

“Cold Cold Heart” by The Joker (Troy Baker)

J

I’ll return next Wednesday with the letter K. I hope you’ll stop by. I’m a writer and I post about a wide variety of non-alphabet-specific topics. Feel free to comment under my posts. If you want to subscribe to the blog, there’s a button in the sidebar.

Also, feel free try to check out my adventure novel Doc Wilde and The Frogs of DoomIt’s been very well reviewed (KIRKUS REVIEWS: “Written in fast-paced, intelligent prose laced with humor and literary allusions ranging from Dante to Dr. Seuss, the story has all of the fun of old-fashioned pulp adventures.”) and is great for action-adventure lovers of all ages.

DOC WILDE AND THE FROGS OF DOOM

For another fun ABC Wednesday post, visit the Carioca Witch here: Bringing Up Salamanders.

Find many more posts by others, and more info on ABC Wednesday, here: ABC Wednesday

Tim Vs. Superman ( MAN OF STEEL Review, No Spoilage)

Superior Super

Better than the movie.

Saw Man of Steel yesterday.

Didn’t love it. Sorta liked it.

If I let myself, though, I think I could hate it.

There are some movies that are deeply flawed but I come out of them loving them anyway because what I remember about them is the good stuff.  The Dark Knight Rises was like that. It fails in some major ways, but it is audacious in what it attempts and gets so much right and is just so thrilling that I loved it (though not with the same passion as I love its immediate predecessor) .

Man of Steel flips that dynamic on its head. It gets quite a few things right, but what lingers in memory are its failures.

The casting is excellent (though Amy Adams, who I generally adore, isn’t as good a Lois Lane as I’d imagined she would be). Henry Cavil is a fantastic Superman. The villains are pretty great (especially Antje Traue as Faora-Ul, who seriously upstages central baddy Zod).

Faora

The action is all very good to excellent, if at times too frenetic and unclear.  The story is smart and restructures the story we all know all too well by now in interesting ways. Largely, the creator’s approach to making a Superman for our time is admirable and successful.

Except…

There is no heart here. There’s a virtual geometry of a heart, pumping away in predictable throbs, but there’s no blood in that geometry, no heat. No humanity. The only truly human moment in the film is when Jenny Olsen (Jimmy’s much hotter contemporary iteration) panics while trapped in a terrible situation…and Jenny is barely even a character in this movie. And it’s the actress who brings the humanity, not the script or the direction. Suddenly, in that moment, I cared for one of the characters on a visceral, rather than an intellectual, level.

The film has absolutely no sense of humor. None. Zilch. I don’t want comedy, I don’t want camp, and I hated those elements in the old Christopher Reeve movies. But I do want wit, I do want humor, I do want irony, I do want to fucking smile every once in a while.

And please. Please please please. Please spare us the Space Jesus crap. Sure, it’s easy to find all sorts of subtext in a Superman story  if you want to (he’s basically more Space Moses than Jesus anyway, and was created by a couple of Jewish kids to boot), but when you start making the subtext hamfisted text it’s just embarrassing. Bryan Singer was guilty of this in Superman Returns too. Don’t bash us over the fucking head with the allegory: having Superman spread his arms as if he’s on a cross isn’t clever, it’s just stupid and obvious, especially when paired with a line of dialogue like “You can save them all…”

Also, spare us the jingoistic military recruitment video before the film that uses heroic imagery of Superman to inspire more kids to enlist to die pointlessly in far off lands. How frigging manipulative and cynical can you get?

There have been a lot of complaints that the movie makers went too dark and gritty with the film, and for the most part I disagree. There could certainly be a bit more color on their palette visually, but it’s fine, and I don’t think the story or characters are too thematically dark. I like the uncertainty and humanity they bring to Superman, and I prefer a noble person struggling to do the right thing to a two-dimensional symbol of heroism who is unfailingly perfect. I don’t mind Superman killing occasionally if he sees the need, though the need has to be overwhelming and clear and earned by the storytellers (there’s at least one big failure on this point in the film).

Overall, I’d give Man of Steel a very shaky B-. I’m glad they’ve done well with it, because I mostly like the elements in the mix and am glad they’re getting to continue with those elements. I just hope that next time they address some of their failures and make a movie I’ll actually want to watch a second time.

“Batman: Arkham Origins” Looks Badass

Batman

Ladies and gentlemen, I am STOKED.

This series is not only some of the best Batman ever, it’s some of the greatest gaming ever. My love for it is already a matter of record.

And yet again a CGI game trailer shows that they really shouldn’t need to be waiting for Hollywood to get its head out of its ass to give us good flicks of Halo, God of War, or other great games, not to mention the possibilities for animated comic book fare.

Comics and Me

Comics

Yesterday was Free Comic Book Day. It got me thinking about my relationship to comics.

The comic above,  The Amazing Spider-Man # 119, is the first comic I remember buying. I know I had others before it, but perhaps I didn’t actually choose them myself, but had them given to me. Whatever the case, I remember going into the 7-11 and choosing this comic and reading it. The result was an obsession that lasted for years, and a strong love of the medium that I still retain today.

That said, I can’t recall the last single issue of a comic I bought. I still read bound collections here and there, like the recent “Court of Owls” storyline in the Batman comics. There are some things I buy for my library as soon as they appear, like the incredible cloth-bound library editions of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy, or the “Absolute” edition of Warren Ellis’s Planetary. But mostly, I just don’t bother with comics these days.

I still love them. But they’re like old friends who’ve drifted away. I keep up with them via gossip. “Oh, Superman is seeing Wonder Woman? Good for him.” “Oh no, Damian Wayne died? That’s terrible, Bruce must be in agony.” “Peter Parker’s dead? Oh my god, that’s…actually really fucking humdrum at this point, unfortunately. Tell me when he’s back.”

It’s not that I’m not interested in reading them, because I am. But the reasons not to are so compelling. They’re too damned expensive, for one thing; for ten bucks, I can get two or three comic books I’ll read in under fifteen minutes. But that same ten bucks will get me two hours of entertainment at the cinema, buy me a book or ten that will give me many hours of enjoyment, get me ten songs I’ll be able to listen to forever, or even pay for a month of Netflix. Comics just don’t offer much bang for the buck when they cost so much.

It’s also a chore to keep up with them. The big companies love crossovers, and to be honest, so do I. But I’m too busy and distracted to have to follow all related series, and read the issues every month in proper order, in order to keep up with a storyline. The latest Batman mega-arc may be incredible, but if I have to hop spastically from title to title, and research the fucking reading order online, to keep up, it’s too much work for too little joy. You can’t just buy a single title, in individual issues or trade collections, and get a coherent storyline.

So, these days, though I miss them, I’m fine following the lives of my favorite comic book characters through hearsay. And, of course, through other media. I’m re-watching The Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon at present, and it’s exceptional. Of course, it lasted just two seasons, and now we have Ultimate Spider-Man, which isn’t. DC’s animated efforts tend to be incredible; we watched the animated adaptation of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns a few weeks ago, and it was great. And, of course, there are the movies. That’s where most people get their comics fix these days, and there, for the most part, the companies are getting it right.

Speaking of which, today we’re going to see the new Iron Man flick. Can. Not. Wait.