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Reviewapalooza

Some microreviews of a bunch of stuff I’ve streamed lately on Netflix.

redhoodCOVER[1]Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

I haven’t read the comics upon which this film was based, but I put off watching Under the Red Hood, because as I recalled, the Red Hood plot line hadn’t gone over very well with some fans. I can’t speak to why, however, because I felt this turned out pretty well for all characters concerned. There’s a very problematic plot point with regards to the ulterior motive behind the Red Hood’s actions, but it’s forgiveable.  The narrative delivered a twist when, perhaps, it didn’t need one, but at least it helped get the story to its logical conclusion.

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Superman vs. the Elite (2012)

SMvELITE_KEYART_DCU_FNLYRS2[1]

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

This should really be called Superman vs. The Authority. Because that’s what it is (The Authority have been reimagined as a smaller group called The Elite, but the parallels are, of course, glaring). So if you ever wondered how that would go down, this is how. Spoilers: he beats them.

Me, personally, I never wondered how that would play out, because these characters exist in vastly different comic book realities. And the fact that I kinda really loved the first couple of volumes of The Authority made me actively feel as though I didn’t want to see this confrontation. Let me just enjoy Superman and The Authority individually, please, and for different reasons.

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All-Star Superman (2011)

all-star-superman-movie-image

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

I understand why the viewer response to this animated film seems to be rather polarized: it’s partially for the same reason that Grant Morrison, himself, seems to be somewhat polarizing as a comic book creator. It’s stuffed full of quirky details that even while interesting can sometimes be distracting, as though Morrison knows he’s a clever guy, and he kind of wants to rub it in your face. The overall narrative carries the viewer from one high concept to the next without ever dwelling too long upon anything, such that one never has the opportunity to question whether there’s anything there apart from a few neat story ideas.

Now take a 12-part Grant Morrison mini-series in which the individual installments were meant to more or less stand alone, and merge them into a 70 minute film that almost irrefutably feels disjointed and meandering, and see what happens.

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  • fuwalda says:

    You should’ve sat down next to that guy and said, “Thanks for saving the seats. Where’s everybody else?”

    And, yeah, I knew you’d like that little cameo at the end. After I watched it, I actually thought to myself, “You know who’s going to like that? Justin Garrett Blum.”

  • Justin Garrett Blum says:

    In this case it wasn’t a huge deal, since (a) I was there by myself, (b) it was an 11 a.m. showing the week after it came out, and (c) I got there plenty early enough to still get a good seat. But it did piss me the hell off that one guy was saving what amounted to an entire row right in the middle of the theater. Still, that theater did fill up eventually, and he probably screwed over some people.

    I’ll “steal” a “saved” seat if I have to. I won’t even feel bad about it. Then again, I pee before I go to the movie theater and I don’t buy anything from the concession stand because I don’t eat while watching movies. My opinion is that if you want a seat, then keep your ass in it.

    This is especially true for blockbuster films in sold out theaters. I added a couple of links at the end of this post that I think should be required reading for anybody attending the theater with friends.

    In other news, yeah–I’m the biggest fan of that character that you’ll ever know. Maybe the only big fan of that character you’ll ever personally know!

  • fuwalda says:

    You’re the second biggest fan of that character, after Jim Starlin. (SPOILER?!)

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The Avengers + movie theatre etiquette

So I have an idea for a one-panel editorial cartoon. A guy shows up to a gigantic movie theater that’s totally empty except for one guy sitting in the exact middle of the theater who tells him, “Oh, sorry, every single seat in here is reserved.”

Look, I’m just going to be blunt here: if you’re saving a seat for more than one person (who should probably be your significant other) who hasn’t yet arrived at the theater, you’re an asshole. You know why I usually go through the trouble to get to the theater well in advance of a movie starting? It’s so that I have my choice of goddamn seats. When I get there and there’s some dude who got there one minute before I did and then claimed 10 seats of prime real estate for his nine buddies who don’t even show up until five minutes after the movie starts, that pisses me off to no end.

It’s simple–if you want to sit next to your friends, then fucking get there at the same time as your friends and go in together. I really think that as a society we need to just say “no” to seat saving at the movie theater. I know it sounds dumb, but ultimately, this is going to be the thing that finally causes me to either punch somebody in the face someday or get punched in the face. I don’t know why of all the shitty and obnoxious things that people do, this irks me almost more than anything else. But it does.*

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  • fuwalda says:

    I used to be a big Hulk fan, because it used to be a great comic. I haven’t read it in years, however, because it’s been terrible every time I’ve tried. I always look at the comics whenever I go to the comic shop, however, because they always look insane. I’ve wondered about that Red Hulk nonsense. Thunderbolt Ross? That’s news to me. That’s just about the dumbest thing I’ve ever hear. You know, aside from all that other stuff you mentioned.

    And Jeph Loeb is an interesting character, who has seemingly based a career out of being awful. He was a big movie producer/writer before coming over to comics and writing bad stores there like he wrote bad movies back in Hollywood. For some reason he’s always been popular even though his stories are always complete shit. Rob Liefeld always gets raked over the coals for his Heroes Reborn stories (and rightly so!), but nobody ever remembers that Jeph Loeb wrote those awful stories.

  • Justin Garrett Blum says:

    I’m still hating on Jeph Loeb for the one issue of The Ultimates volume 3 that I read. It was so gawd-awfully terrible that I’ve more or less blocked it out of my mind. The only thing I can remember about it is that I read it. But it was clear that this was a guy who just had no idea what he was doing.

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Red Hulk killed who now?

I haven’t read mainstream comics in a number of years now, and I’ve never really been a fan of the Hulk books. But while I was being super productive today (/sarcasm), I learned through a Google search that Uatu–my boy, the Watcher–apparently got knocked out cold by the Red Hulk. This is not nearly the stupidest thing that has ever happened in comic books, but it did make me curious enough to find out a little bit more about the Red Hulk.

So according to a guy in this thread, the Red Hulk dominated an Odin-force Thor, chopped off Terrax‘s head, choked out the Silver Surfer (which as this poster pointed out, doesn’t even make sense, since the Surfer doesn’t need to breath–I mean, he lives in freakin’ outer space) and absorbed the power cosmic, and he beat the Grandmaster. Maybe he did some more stuff, too, but that’s what was mentioned in the thread.

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Comics ‘R’ Us

I (more…)

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  • fuwalda says:

    My only major problem with Ang Lee’s Hulk is that it has no ending. I’ve watched that finale a half dozen or so times, and I still have no idea what the hell is going on. The sequel does a much better job by dumbing things down to my level and just having a kick ass fight scene between two giant monsters.

    I have some other problems with the film, but, as I said above, they are minor. The story takes a lot of liberties with the character’s origins, but that can be forgiven because it’s all well done and clever. It’s way too long, but that’s also a minor complaint because what works works extremely well. And I liked the dog fight scene. It was funny.

    But by pointing out the bad along with the good, I don’t feel like an apologist. I feel like I’m being thorough. The point of a reviewer is to discuss and point out what works, what doesn’t work, and weigh both accordingly for a final verdict. I will admit, however, that this film has been unfairly maligned by most people. I would estimate that 90% of the time when you see it cited in current blogs or articles, it is all but taken for granted that it was a huge piece of crap. Obviously, I disagree. But I still think League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is more unfairly hated and torn apart.

  • fuwalda says:

    Here’s another thing that doesn’t fit anywhere else, so I may as well post it here: Sam Elliot was so much better as Thunderbolt Ross than William Hurt. Hurt had a little bit more to do though. Also, Jennifer Connolly and Liv Tyler would about equal as Betty Ross. Although, for the life of me, I can’t remember Liv Tyler being in that movie at all. And Eric Roth was a better antagonist than Josh Lucas (who was actually very good), and the Abomination was way better than the first film’s pathetic interpretation of the Absorbing Man.

    They should make a third film already where the Rock or Steve Austin plays the Absorbing man, with his ball and chain and proper powers.

  • fuwalda says:

    Oh, and Eric Bana is a waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better actor than Edward Norton. Or, at least, I’ve always liked him more.

  • Justin Garrett Blum says:

    Well, I didn’t mean you so much. I was more referring to people who spend the vast majority of a review explaining why a movie is awesome, and then attempt to take it all back in a hasty apology, or they emphasize that they know nobody agrees. I think there are more people out there who agree than speak up.

    “I would estimate that 90% of the time when you see it cited in current blogs or articles, it is all but taken for granted that it was a huge piece of crap.”

    Right–this is what bothers me. Even by objective standards, it wasn’t as bad as all that. A lot of those same people who refer to the Ang Lee Hulk that way will express in the same breath that the Ed Norton movie was some sort of salvation for the character. Yet the film was greeted with almost identical critical response and made about the same amount of money.

    Also, I agree–Sam Elliot was awesome as Thunderbolt Ross, and Steve Austin as the Absorbing Man would be cool.

  • fuwalda says:

    It’s kind of like how people talk about J Edgar Hoover being a cross-dresser as though it has been proven as an irrefutable fact, even thought it was probably completely made up. I make this example only so, for whatever reason, you’re going to go to bed tonight and dream about the Hulk wearing women’s clothing.

  • fuwalda says:

    Also, you should chop that picture of the Hulk so it looks like he’s biting a big, black cock.

  • Justin Garrett Blum says:

    That reminds me of that Louis C.K. video I posted a while back.

    “Why does it have to be black?”
    “Because it’s attached to a black guy.”

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Apologists Assemble

Just to quickly follow-up on the topic of Ang Lee’s Hulk, it’s interesting to me the way this film is remembered. It seems to be considered a critical disaster, despite a fairly respectable 62% (55% amongst the Top Critics) freshness rating at Rotten Tomatoes. It is also hailed as one of the worst box office flops ever, despite doing about $250 million worldwide, which while not great, isn’t exactly chump change, either. For a time, after word of mouth absolutely destroyed this film, it seemed that nobody was willing to speak out in defense of it. Over the years, however, fans have been slowly coming out of hiding.

What’s odd, however, is that those of us who respect and even enjoyed Ang Lee’s Hulk always seem to couch our discussion so cautiously, as though we all live in fear of incurring the wrath of the insulted fanboys swarming the Internet. God forbid we just like the movie because we found the emotional narrative to be cerebral and the character development to be complex and unusual within the genre. Lord knows we couldn’t have truly been satisfied by the Hulk fighting mutated poodles (I swear, this poodle scene is the number one complaint leveled against the film).

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  • fuwalda says:

    I really enjoyed the first Hulk movie. In fact, when it first came out, I loved it. You can read my original review of that movie here:

    http://www.dononline.net/2003_06_01_archive.htm#95948435

    Wow. I really went off on how great it was there, which is a sentiment I still mostly agree with, but do find it a bit plodding on repeated viewings. I mostly just fast forward to all of the stuff with the Hulk. And, yeah, the CG was pretty flawless in my opinion. And, yeah, the Hulk jumps all the time in the comics. I’m pretty sure his ability to jump huge distances was even noted in his Marvel Handbook bio.

  • fuwalda says:

    I can’t find an online version of the Marvel Handbook, but there is from his Wikipedia page:

    “His powerful legs allow him to leap into lower Earth orbit or across continents.”

    They cite The Incredible Hulk vol. 3, #33 (Dec. 2001); The Incredible Hulk vol. 2, #254 (Dec. 1980) as references.

  • Justin Garrett Blum says:

    As much as I enjoyed Ang Lee’s Hulk, I wouldn’t say it’s a movie that warrants repeated viewings. That said, I did pick up the DVD a couple of years ago, though I did so primarily because I wanted my wife to see it. I freely admit that it’s almost oppressively long. It’s kind of exhausting attempting to watch it all at once. But I still like it a lot.

    We saw this movie together in Charlottesville, didn’t we? I remember I went with my mom, who was visiting, and when the film was over, some guy exiting the theater said something like, “Meh. I expected more.” Even my mother, who like most mothers isn’t into action films, realized how ludicrous that statement was. She said something to me like, “How could you expect more? That film was fairly awe inspiring.”

    I think she was right. It was a lot of film. Too much film, really. But I respect that. Was it completely successful? Well, no. But it was ambitious, and it took the Hulk seriously as a character. Maybe more seriously than the Hulk deserved, and certainly more seriously than most people wanted.

  • Justin Garrett Blum says:

    Anyway, the point was that you can’t fault the film for the action sequences. They’re well conceived and really well filmed and executed.

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Hulk Smash

Donald’s Comic Book Movie Round-up (Part I, Part II, Part III) had me thinking again about Ang Lee’s Hulk, which led me to this video on YouTube that pulls out into a single seven-minute video a good portion of the action sequences from the film.

I know that this film is reviled by many, but can we at least agree that if you excise all of the plot, the action scenes are phenomenal? Then again, we probably can’t agree to that, can we? Hulk was so polarizing that some people can’t give it credit for having done anything right, which is rather a bizarre standpoint from my perspective, but it’s their loss, I suppose.

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Captain America, the Halloween Costume (cont.)

At left, I present evidence of how awesome the “full-Hitch” World War II costume would look in a Captain America film.

I’m being facetious, but this is adorable. I wish I’d had a costume like this when I was a kid. I’d have worn it every Halloween.

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  • fuwalda says:

    Every complaint (or, really, concern) you raise about this production is valid and beyond argument. However… I still remain optimistic. I’m honestly more excited about this movie than any movie in recent history. I think it’s going to be awesome, despite the fact that the costume looks kind off and some of the story details seem a little wacky. And, really, the main concern I have with the costume is that there are no wings on the side of his mask. That just seems wrong to me. It’s a subtle detail, but it throws off the whole visual for me.

    But, again, I’m excited because the cool far outweighs any real concerns I have. First of all, you know I love Chris Evans. I think he’s an awesome choice and I have faith that he’s going to own the character and do a great job. This is the kind of character his career has been building toward, in my opinion. Also, the rest of the cast is amazing. Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull is going to be the best villain ever. And then we’ve got Tommy Lee Jones, Helen Mirren, Sam Jackson, Stanley Tucci, Natalie Dormer (a super hottie from The Tudors) and Neal McDonough as Dum Dum Dugan. How can this movie not be awesome?

  • fuwalda says:

    Also, Bruce Willis and Nicolas Cage are listed in the credits for some reason, but no character names are attributed to either. I’m guessing that’s no accurate. But if it is… cool? Maybe they’ll have a cameo by Nicolas Cage as Ghost Rider?

  • fuwalda says:

    And, finally, Joe Johnston is a decent director who has the potential to be great if given the right material. Hopefully this will be the right material. I think he did as much with Jurassic Park 3 as he could with such a terrible script, Jumanji and Honey I Shrunk the Kids were great fun, and the Rocketeer was one of the best comic book movies of all time. But Wolfman was pretty terrible.

    Still, he has proven himself as a more than capable action director. I have enjoyed more of his movies than I have hated them.

  • Justin Garrett Blum says:

    Oh man…did you ever watch that Nicholas Cage Ghost Rider movie? It was one of the worst things I’ve ever seen. And I say that as somebody who thought that the Nicholas Cage movie Next was really pretty good.

    Anyway, if you follow that link to the other pictures, you’ll see that there ARE some painted on wings on the helmet…so perhaps on the close-up version of the costume, the wings will actually stand out from the helmet.

    I mean, the costume is not a deal-breaker, obviously–I’ve overlooked far worse problems than a costume not having enough vertical stripes–but I just wish they’d worked out a better design.

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Captain America, the Halloween Costume

Somebody on Usenet (yes, I still occasionally read Usenet) posted a link to this blog with photos of a stunt double for the upcoming Captain America film.

Man…I just don’t know. Why does the costume look as though it’s made out of that cheap vinyl material out of which children’s Halloween costumes are made? You know, that material that rips about three seconds after you put it on?

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