Paramore and No Doubt at PNC

The PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey has a penchant for booking quality shows at it's arena. Each year, hundreds of thousands of New Jersians look forward to the announcement of their Summer line-up. I enjoy going to a few of these shows, when I can afford to anyway.

Last night I was treated to a great show by No Doubt and Paramore. Though this is the fourth time seeing No Doubt live, this will be the one I remember most. Not for the music, mind you (although they did put on a hell of a show), but for the torrential downpour we incurred while waiting on line to get into the arena. Having to find out seats and endure the next four hours soaking wet was a feat I hope to never have to repeat in my life. Being extremely uncomfortable, I had better have been in store for an awesome show.

Having never seen Paramore live before, I was looking forward to their opening. One of the things that stands out with Paramore is their lead singer, Hayley Williams. From the minute she hit the stage, it was evident that she really loves her rock and roll lifestyle. Dressed in skinny jeans with a red dye job in her hair, she looks more like that quiet kid in high school with a backpack covered in patches and band names written in magic marker. But when she started singing, she belted out tunes as if her life depended on it. But she rocked out to the music of her band, banging her head in time to the beat.

Though they have only hit the big time recently, Paramore has a bunch of albums under their belt, so they had a wide range of songs to perform. Admittedly, many of them I didn't know, having only heard their most recent release, Riot!. They included 'Misery Business,' 'Crushcrushcrush,' and 'That's What You Get' in their set list, all of which were enjoyable to hear live for the first time. But noting compared to the reaction from the crowd when they played the first couple of bars of 'Decode,' their radio hit from he movie Twilight. Being that the crowd consisted mostly of females, the place exploded in adoration.

At around 9:15, No Doubt came on stage with the grandeur that one would expect from No Doubt. Silhouettes on a large, white sheet filled the stage, one by one, as each of the band members walked out. As the sheet dropped, the band played 'Spiderwebs,' and it was all over from there.

They rocked Holmdel in true No Doubt fashion, playing all their hits from Tragic Kingdom, Return of Saturn, and Rocksteady. One of the coolest parts of the show was the giant screen behind the stage, which showed pre-recorded video during a few of there songs, like 'Underneath It All' and 'X-Girlfriend,' and showed computer generated imagery, like the outer-spaced scene during 'Different People.' My favorite use of the screen was a video-diary of the band pre-fame, being given the soundtrack of 'Running.' It was very classy and quite sentimental.

As I stated earlier, the crowd was mostly female, and this was never more evident than during 'Just A Girl' and 'Hey Baby.' The screaming, clapping, and jumping around was almost unbearable, but you have to admit, No Doubt definitely knows how to suck the energy from their fans.

In a true show of class, Gwen Stefani signed autographs for her fans lucky enough to be near the stage. She also obliged one fan in particular who had a birthday wish to hear 'Tragic Kingdom,' a song that they rarely play live. The band even invited one guy up on stage, who said that he had seen No Doubt live over 30 times, and allowed him to introduce the band. How's that for giving back to the fans?
Unfortunately, there were a couple of negatives to the show, one personal and one musical. The band's first encore included the song 'Rocksteady' which, to me, is one of their weakest songs. Wanting to hear something else, I felt that this detracted from their set list, which was quite rocking up until then. It kind of bothers me that the band ignores a few of their earlier albums, like The Beacon Street Collection, which features one of my favorite songs, 'Open The Gate.' I would have preferred to hear this over 'Rocksteady,' but judging by the crowds reaction, I suppose they made a good choice. My second complaint was 'It's My Life,' No Doubts cover of the eighties hit by Talk-Talk. While I do enjoy the album cut, their live rendition seemed a little flat. Compared to the spot-on versions they played of the rest of their songs, 'It's My Life' just sounded out of place.

The show ended with two songs. The first being a new cut, 'Stand And Deliver' (an Adam Ant cover apparently), an idea which they certainly lived up to. Each band member banged on a separate drum in a well choreographed routine, then brought out Paramore and the unbilled first performer, Janelle MonĂ¡e, to lend their talents to the song. Seeing thirteen people dance around the stage and banging on drums was certainly a sight to behold. Lastly, 'Sunday Morning.' Most likely one of Gwen's favorite songs to perform, she killed with this. Her vocals were perfect and along with the cooperation of the band, this was probably one of the best live renditions I have heard of this song.

I also have to add that Tom Dumont is a lot more talented than I have recognized in the past. Though the entire band played extremely well, Tom seemed to stand out to me. I have seen No Doubt three times previously, but last night, his solos just blew all others out of the water. If I were to build my own super-band, Mr. Dumont would be my lead guitarist for sure.

Despite the clothes-drenching we received before the show, I definitely had a good time. The music was fantastic, and both bands did a superb job of getting the crowd pumped. Though I was a little annoyed by the venue itself (I realized last night that I dislike seats; they get in the way if your just going to stand through the show anyway), but that isn't something that would detract from the concert. All in all, my recommendation is, if you have the opportunity to check out this tour, do it.


The History of the Marvel Legends

Way back in 2002, Toy Biz created Marvel Legends, a series of action figures based on characters appearing in Marvel Comics. The very first series consisted of Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, and Toad. They were packaged in a clam-shell style box, and shipped with a reprinting of a classic comic book. The detailed sculpting and multiple points of articulation quickly catapulted these figures to the top of fans "Must Buy" lists, and went down in history as some of the finest action figures to come from Toy Biz.

Over time, Toy Biz began taking risks with a few of the characters they chose. While in the beginning they stuck with highly recognizable characters such as The Human Torch, Wolverine, and Daredevil, they eventually began to create figures based on lesser known heroes, like Man-Thing, Deathlok, and Vengeance. Overtime, they added extra frills to the figures, like the Legendary Riders line, which packaged each figure with a vehicle most fitting their personality. But the capper of the Marvel Legends, and the most popular feature, was the Build-A-Figure. Each figure was packaged with a piece of a larger figure. Collect 'em all, and you got yourself another toy to play with. For the first time, this opened up collector's dioramas to more realistic fight scenes. Finally, Giant-Man would actually be a Giant-Man, and Galactus would tower over the others.

Then, in 2007, the rights to Marvel characters changed hands, finding it's way to the creative minds at Hasbro. Hasbro has some of the most recognizable toys under their belt, one example of such being the Transformers. So, should anyone have any doubt that they could handle the Marvel Legends line?

The first couple of series' of Marvel Legends produced by Hasbro yielded some quality figures. Ultimate Iron Man. Thor. Xorn. These figures had decent sculpts, but lacked some of the articulation of the Toy Biz generation. Subsequent figures, however, saw a decline in quality. Poor paint jobs, sub-par sculpts, and even less articulation sullied the name of Marvel Legends. In 20008, the final Marvel Legends series hit the stores, and pretty much stayed there until they moved to the clearance section. In place of them came the 3 3/4 inch Marvel Universe line.

When I first heard about the 3 3/4 inch figures, I was excited about a new line of figures coming out. Then I discovered that all of Hasbro's Marvel based figures had gone to that size. This agitated me. I didn't want to buy only small figures. I wanted the larger sizes as well. I wondered why Hasbro would do such a thing?

Then it occurred to me that the decision to change the sizes of the figures was a monetary one. Oil prices had been rising steadily in 2008, as most people will recall the severe increase in gas prices. And since plastic is derived from oil, the price of plastic had increased as well. Hasbro scaled down the sizes of their toys to save money. Unfortunately, only the figures were scaled down and not the prices. The 3 3/4 inch figures were priced around $9 each, which was only about $1 less than the larger Marvel Legends line. Why was I paying 10% less for an action figure that was half as big? This boggled my mind. To this day I have yet to purchase a figure in the 3 3/4 inch line.

Thankfully, change is on the horizon. Topless Robot has reported Hasbro will be unveiling 16 to 18 new Marvel Legends figures at the upcoming San Diego Comic Con. Though no word has come on whether or not these figures will see store shelves for sure, the fact that the R&D team at Hasbro is working on them is promising enough.

I will certainly be keeping an eye open for which characters will get the plastic treatment. Hopefully, they will work on the quality of the figures, making them a toy line to be proud of as they once were.


Sigourney Weaver not in Ghostbusters 3?

Well, this sucks.

In an interview with SciFi Squad, Weaver lets loose the news that her character, Dana Barrett, will most likely not be in Ghostbusters 3. Although she does mention an idea that I would love to see used in the three-quel; Oscar as a Ghostbuster.

Remember Oscar? Dana's son who took center stage in Ghostbusters 2? Well, if the time line is the same, and Oscar was about a year old in 1989, that would make him 21 or 22 by the time Ghostbusters 3 takes place. That's a pretty decent age to strap on a proton pack. The only problem is, how do the writers make it work without Dana Barrett? Dana is Oscar's link to the Ghostbusters. Without her, it would seem strange that Oscar is hanging around Venkman and the others.

The only thing I could see working in the absence of Sigourney Weaver is a broken marriage between Peter and Dana. That would make Peter Oscar's step-father, sort of. It would have put Peter in Oscar's life long enough for the child to grow an affection for the man, and take an interest in his career. Then, after finishing college, where he studied paranormal psychology, he moves to New York and asks the Ghostbusters for a job, stating his qualifications for "Paranormal Investigations and Eliminations." There could be some sort of contact with his mother who is living in England, playing in, say, the London Philharmonic, though all contact would be off-screen or understood through dialogue in a telephone conversation. This all fits in well with the writers intentions of bringing in a new generation of Ghostbusters and allowing the old team to pass the torch.

I'm really excited about Ghostbusters 3 and I hope that the lack of Sigourney Weaver does not stifle it's production. She certainly is not an integral character, though her appearance would keep the fans happy. Personally, I don't care if she is or isn't in the film, as long as the film is made.

The Death of Michael Jackson.

You may have heard by now that Michael Jackson has died this afternoon at the age of 50. He was rushed to the hospital in Los Angeles for breathing trouble, slipped into a coma, and at 3:15 PM PST was pronounced dead by hospital doctors. The news was first reported by TMZ, although prematurely, and eventually was confirmed by the LA Times. The world is in mourning now as many people have trouble believing the passing of such a well known pop idol.

I have to say that I'm torn on the issue of mourning. Michael Jackson was a talented singer. His days in the Jackson Five, as well as his numerous number one singles, cemented him as the 'King of Pop.' To this day, whenever I hear the song 'Bad,' I think about my elementary school days and hanging out with my best friend at the time. Michael Jackson's music has touched a lot of people.

But then he got weird. Like, really weird. The allegations of sexual assault against children estroyed his reputation in my eyes. Though he was found not guilty on all charges, you have to wonder about all of the allegations against him. Wikipedia has a full history of the charges and trial against Michael Jackson, and some of the shit in there is just wrong. One man claimed that Jackson touched his crotch through his shorts twice when he was young, and once touched his testicles. Then he gave the boy $200 so he wouldn't tell his mother. Jackson later paid the family a total of $2,000,000 to settle the case. I have to ask this question; who gives someone 2 million dollars to settle a case if that person is innocent of the charges? No sane person, I'll tell you that.

This is the kind of thing that has made me wonder about him for years. Michael Jackson has been an anti-role model since the early nineties. His constant plastic surgeries. The agoraphobia. Hanging his one child over a balcony. The man was completely unstable.

I am sorry that Michael Jackson died at an early age. Fifty is young and he should have had more years ahead of him. But I still have trouble mourning the passing of a man who could have been a child molester. I will never know for certain if the molestation charges against him were true or not. If they were true, no harm can befall another child at his hands.

Though I do feel sorry for his children. Prince Michael I, Paris Michael, and Prince Michael II? This alone is proof that he was twisted.


Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen

It's been two years since the release of Michael Bay's epic film Transformers, forever changing our minds about the director's talent. Between then and now, many rumors have been bandied about concerning the content of the sequel. There was a short time when I heard tales of the Dino-Bots having a prominent role in the second Transformers film. But all of those rumors can be put to rest, now that Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen has finally hit theaters.

Many of the early reviews of the movie would lead you to believe that T2: ROTF is an unwatchable pile of crap. Roger Ebert referred to the movie as 'a horrible experience of unbearable length, briefly punctuated by three or four amusing moments.' Would I agree? Not in the slightest. In my very humble opinion, Roger Ebert is a pompous ass, which is evidenced by many of the snore-fests that he feels are 'great movies.' Clearly his time as a reviewer has jaded him to movies, severely hampering his ability to decipher between a 'work of art' and an 'escape from reality.'

One of Ebert's comments on the movie is "This isn't a film so much as a toy tie-in." No shit. Why else would the name 'Hasbro' be placed in LARGE, BOLD letters within the movies credits? Because the property belongs to Hasbro, and, surprise, surprise, they are in the toy business. Maybe, in a few cases, Ebert should do a little research on the movies he watches, just so he has some clue as the what the fuck is going on. But perhaps the operation of that 'magic button box' on his desk is too much for his brain to comprehend.

Anyway, enough with that. Ebert's an ass, but I don't need to rehash anything. My thoughts on T2: ROTF...

When the movie began, I saw many similarities between the sequel and the original, as far as structure was concerned. Huge robot battle in the beginning. Introduce human element. Evil robots reveal their mission to the audience. I'm not saying this is a bad thing. It worked for the first movie, go on ahead with the second. In fact, when it did deviate from that structure, I began to see the movie falling apart.

There was a long stretch of 45 minutes that just bored the hell out of me. This section was the breeding ground for the plot; the part where Sam's mission is explained to him by an SR-71 Blackbird (one of the coolest planes ever built, mind you.) It was all very necessary to set up the entire point of the movie, but it really did lose me. Do you wanna know why?

Not enough robot violence. Yes, everybody else's biggest bitch about T2: ROTF, the amount of over-the-top violence between walking cars and talking planes, is the only Goddamn reason I wanted to see this movie. Anyone who was a kid in the 80s knows what Transformers is all about. Fighting robots who turn into vehicles, chase each other around, turn back into robots and fight some more. That's it. Nothing else. Thus the reason so many critics are panning the film. They expect Citizen Kane; a tightly woven plot with snappy, intelligent dialogue, tied together with giant robots. Nope, Transformers is not about that at all.

I went into the theater expecting a perfect sequel; a movie on par with the original, such as the Ghostbusters movies. But I was let down. T2: ROTF was not perfect. As I mentioned earlier, there is a long drought of action which weighs the movie down considerably. Another downfall is the amount of humor that was put into the movie. Transformers was a funny film; much funnier than I thought it would be. However, for the sequel, the writers decided to double the amount of corny one-liners and physical gags, in the hopes that they would get double the laughs. However, they failed to remember the formula for humor. X number of natural, well-place jokes will gather X number of laughs, X being equal, of course. But, X number times 2 of stupid, nonsensical, forced jokes will yield X number divided by 2 of laughs. Get it? It really is simple.

To wrap up, I will put it simply. Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen will not win any awards, with the exception of Visual Effects or Sound Editing. Best Writer, Best Director, or Best Picture are out the window as far as possibilities. If you want to see an award winner, rent Slumdog Millionaire. But if you want to watch a movie that will let you escape from the thought of your shitty job or the doldrums of your life, then Transformers 2 is for you.

See it with pride, young Autobot.


The Taking of Pelham 123

My sister and I decided to go to the movies on Sunday afternoon. Having seen everything that was noteworthy, we had a difficult time choosing which movie to see. Not wanting to wait to long, with it already being around quarter after 5, we decided on a 5:25 showing of The Taking of Pelham 123.

When we got inside the theater, I noticed that something was a little... off. The lights were down, and the screen displayed a cute little 3D animation featuring some baby-making clouds and a stork. I stared at it strangely for a while, thinking to myself 'There's no way this is Pelham.' Sure enough, at the end of the cartoon, the word 'Pixar' showed at the bottom of the screen. I got up and told the usher that they were playing the wrong film. The management gave us all free passes, which was neat.

Anyway, Pelham 123 was a decent movie. I can't really say it was good, because you would expect more from a film with this much star power. Denzel Washington, John Travolta, James Gandolfini, John Turturro, and Luis Guzman. These men are all fine actors, and they have elevated the craft of acting over the years. But somehow, this movie falls flat. Which certainly is through no fault of the actors.

The film is shot in classic Tony Scott style. Quick cuts. Shaky camera movements. And some weird edits that make you wonder if he is feeling the aftereffects of a bad LSD trip. But I love his movies, and I don't think Scott is to blame either.

I feel that the script was lackluster. The writing just seemed too concise. Everything fit together so simply and became very predictable. Even the moments of shock, which there were a few, were too predictable (you don't send a man home who was just told by a terrorist that he considers him a friend. That's not smart negotiating.)

A big, annoying part of this movies centered around the definition of 'terrorists.' Too many times, Travolta's characters asked his gang, 'Are we really terrorists?' Yes, you are. You are holding a train full of passengers hostage, causing terror. Terrorists. The fact that you are demanding money for their release is irrelevant. You are terrorists.

See? Where's the debate?

I don't regret seeing The Taking of Pelham 123. It was an enjoyable way to pass an afternoon. But it is one of those movies that, three years from now, someone will mention in some obscure way and you will say to yourself, 'Yeah, I did see that movie.'

And at least I got to see it for free.


The Mad Depp-er

Shooting has completed on Tim Burton's version of Alice in Wonderland. USAToday has posted a few images from the film, and I have to say, this shit looks scary.

I thought Johnny Depp looked creepy as Willy Wonka, but this takes the crazy cake. To be honest, when I first heard that Depp was cast in the part of the Mad Hatter, I never expected it to look anything like this. I kind of pictured a mixture of Johnny Depp from the Tom Petty video 'Rebel Without a Clue' and Tom Petty himself from that same video. If you recall, Tom was dressed in a top-hat and suit, in true Hatter fashion. So, my vision was rather tame compared to Burton's. But this is to be expected. After all, I am not certifiably loony.

But I really must say, I'm excited about this movie. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland is one of my favorite books. I love the imagery that Carroll created. I love the characters and their off-the-wall personalities. I also love how Alice's movements in Through The Looking-Glass can be equated to a game of chess (even though I cannot follow it to save my life.) So to see an honest, live-action adaptation of the books envisioned by Tim Burton is like a dream come true for me.

Not to mention the cast. Helena Bonham Carter is playing the Queen of Hearts. Alan Rickman as the Caterpillar. Christopher Lee as the Jabberwock. I cannot wait for some vorpal blades to go snicker-snack. Simply amazing.

If you are like me and enjoy the Alice mythos, then you should check out The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor. The story centers around Alyss Glass, princess to Wonderland. Her kingdom is under attack by her evil aunt, who wants to take over Wonderland. Alyss travels through a portal to our world, where she eventually meets Lewis Carroll, who hears her story and writes the Alice novels. The Looking Glass Wars is a wonderful work of fantasy that adds so much depth to the original stories of Alice. It has also spawned a graphic novel spin-off, called Hatter M, which follows Hatter Madigan, Princess Alyss' bodyguard. Then, of course, you have the second book in the trilogy, Seeing Redd. The third book has not yet been released, but I am certainly waiting for it excitedly.

I just realized that I now have two pieces of Alice in Wonder-fulness to look forward to.


Wizard World Philly '09

So Wizard World wrapped up a few hours ago. Even though I only went for the Saturday, there was plenty of stuff to see to spend the entire weekend at the event. My girlfriend and I had a blast, even though things started a little slow. The show was about the same size as last years, with many vendors and artists represented, but it seems like it was overshadowed by Hero's Con, which was the same weekend. The noticeable difference was that neither Marvel or DC had a presence at the show. Even the Wizard booth was under-active compared to last years show.

However, that other activity at the show was very exciting. Following are a few of the many photographs that we took, which is really the best way I can describe the show.

The Tonner booth had some awesome stuff to show, including the new Twilight dolls. Even though I don't like the movies, these dolls have a fantastic likeness to the characters. Also on display were the Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter, and DC Universe.

This is a work in progress by chalk-artist Eric Michael Maruscak. The images show a progression of the work throughout the show. The first was taken early in the morning, and the last was around the time the show ended. Not only was the art amazing, his speed at completing it was awesome. This guy has mad talent.

These shots are of Lauren with two of the artists we talked to. The first is Billy Tucci, creator of Shi. Last year, Lauren got a cover sketch of her favorite character, Storm, from Billy. This year she got one of Gambit. (I got one of Jubilee. Needed something of Jubilee.) The second picture is her with Franchesco, an Italian artist. This picture is significant because of the story involved. Apparently, Franchesco's favorite character is Storm, so he and Lauren started talking. He told her a story about an issue of Marvel's What If..? Series, and how excited he was to illustrate 'What if Storm received the power of the Phoenix?' Afterward, we went on a hunt to find the issue so we can get an autograph. We eventually did, after visiting 8 different retailers. When we brought it back and showed him, he got so excited to see it that he demanded to take a picture of her with it. He also gave Lauren a specially printed backboard with an image from that issue, another thing that greatly excited my girlfriend. Though I had never heard of Franchesco in the past (but I most likely have seen his art), I would have to say he is an amazingly cool guy and I look forward to seeing him at future shows.

I'm going to finish out this post with the costumes that we saw at the show. These pictures are of the costumes I thought were good; there were far too many that just didn't work. Though there was one picture that I wish I could have gotten. When we first walked into the show, we saw two little kids dressed like Link and Zelda, from the Legend of Zelda video game. They must have been around 2 or 3 years old, but they were so adorable in their costumes. Unfortunately, we didn't see them again through the entire show, so I didn't get the chance to snap the pic. Anyway, here are the costumes. Enjoy.

A black-suited Spidey and Superman.

Spider-Man and G.I. Joe's Baroness.

The X-Men's Rogue and the Predator.

Cyclops from the X-Men.

Banshee and Deadpool. (The Banshee costume caught me off guard. Not something I expected. He definitely gets points for originality.)

My girlfriend, Lauren and Gambit.

X-23. Another original costume.

Lauren's brother, Jonothan, and Lara Croft. When I asked Jon if he wanted a picture with Lara, his response was, "Hell yeah." Good boy.

Jon again with Master Chief.

Batman baddies Two-Face and the Scarecrow.

Lara Croft with the Joker and a few Gears of War soldiers (at least I think it's Gears of War.)

Evil Lynn from Masters of the Universe.

The Baroness and Snake Eyes. What a cool pairing.

Black Panther and Blade.

A Rather plump Thor. Time to lay off the mead, big fella.

Obi-Wan Kenobi.

The cast of 300.

And finally, the Ghostbusters. The detail on the proton packs was amazing. These guys did a great job on their costimes, but I'm also partial to the source material.


I have a confession to make...

After reading this short article on Comics Alliance, I feel I need to come clean. In all of my years of reading comics, I have never admitted this to anyone. I feel that it is my deepest, darkest secret, one that would bring shame upon my family should it ever come to light. This secret is the true reason I have never run for public office, for it would surely bury my political career. But I am ready to let it out. I feel it would be cathartic for me to do so, and help me to grow both spiritually and physically. So, here goes.

I enjoyed the Clone Saga.

Now hear me out before you crucify me.

There was a lot of good stories hidden within the Clone Saga. Granted, the bad outweighed the good by a huge margin, but the good was still there.

For starters, Marvel finally brought closure to the clone story. Who is the real Peter Parker? That question was (possibly) sitting in many people's heads after reading the original Clone story from the mid 70s. Though they had insinuated that the Peter Parker we know was the true Spider-Man, it would never be known for certain.

Despite what most people believe, I feel that Ben Reilly is an interesting character. I enjoyed his run as the Scarlet Spider, mostly due to his piece-meal costume of a red body suit, sleeveless hoodie, and webshooters on the outside look. It was a nice change of pace when he took up the Spider-Man mantle, allowing Peter to have a normal life with his family (though I hated the costume changes made when he took over.)

Another aspect that I liked was the Phil Urich Green Goblin. Being used to all villainous goblins, making one a hero was a nice move on Marvel's part. I loved the 13 issue series he had, in which they introduced some intriguing villains, some that I wish they would bring back today. And Phil certainly showed his heroic side when he destroyed his equipment in a battle against a Sentinel at the end of the Onslaught saga, forcing him to give up the hero biz.

Kaine was also an interesting character. Later revealed to be an early, disfigured clone of Peter Parker, Marvel kept readers wondering what the hell was going on with him. Kaine would do anything to protect Spider-Man, but wanted to destroy Ben Reilly at all costs. The final revelation came a quite a shock to me, even though it opened the can of worms for the whole clone extravaganza.

Let's not forget that the final wrap up to the Clone Saga brought about the return of Norman Osborn. If Marvel had not been in a tizzy to end the Clone Saga, then the current events of the Marvel Universe would never come to light. Norman would not become the head of the Thunderbolts. He would not have been the hero at the end of Secret Wars. Dark reign would be non-existent.

I decided to do a little research about the Clone Saga before writing this. What I discovered was some very shocking information. As a teenager, I had no idea that all of this shit was happening in the Marvel Bullpen. The marketing department had more control than the creative department? Two Editors-In-Chief had been terminated during the whole debacle? Most of this information was strange to hear. What I did learn was that the Clone Saga was, more or less, a disastrous attempt to sell comic books, but it did succeed in it's mission. At the time, Marvel was undergoing a huge financial crisis, and near bankruptcy. If this storyline helped them in anyway to keep their heads above water and stay in business until they were purchased by Toy Biz, then I would have to count that as another positive attribute of the Clone Saga. (I highly recommend you read the Wikipedia article. It is very interesting.)

I will be one of the first to admit that the Clone Saga storyline is a blight on the Spider-Man mythos. It was far too convoluted to be understood without multiple read-throughs. However, it brought about many positives, which are often overlooked when it comes up as a topic of discussion. Like everything else, it should be given a chance before it is destroyed. And like most of our mothers told us when we were kids, "If you can't say anything nice, then avoid talking about the Clone Saga." OK, that might have been paraphrased, but you get the point.


Ghostbusters 3 news, more remakes looming, and the cancellation of Akira

I was much more excited to read this before I actually did. Apparently, there isn't much news on the Ghostbusters 3 front. The script is not yet complete. There has been no new developments as far as casting goes. In fact, the only good thing is that there have been no reports that anyone has dropped out of the film, which hopefully won't happen.

GeekTyrant has some snippets of an interview with Ivan Reitman talking about nothing new concerning Ghostbusters 3. However, the end of the interview adds a bit about Dan Aykroyd's original intent for the Ghostbusters franchise. At least there is something here that adds to the interview.

More Hollywood unoriginality is looming on the horizon as more old movies are given new life. First up is Fame, the story of a group of dancers who strive for, well, fame. Why is this being remade? My theory is that Hollywood wants a piece of the reality TV action and are making a big screen version of "So You Think You Can Dance," which is basically all Fame is. It will probably do as well in theaters as the film adaptation of Rent did. Not for me.

The Bride of Frankenstein is also being remade. The 1935 film is being considered by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, with Neil Burger to write and direct. One thing that gives me hope is that Burger also created The Illusionist, with Edward Norton. Seeing as how that movie was excellent, and Howard and Grazer know how to make movies, Bride has some hope. Also interesting is the news that Universal is looking to obtain the film rights to other classic monsters, such as the Creature from the Black Lagoon and the Wolf Man. There could be a whole lot more classic horror movies coming soon, which is a nice change of pace from the shitty teen slasher films.

If Patrick Swayze were dead, he would roll over in his grave to learn that Red Dawn is being remade. Seriously? Red Dawn? This movie had no artistic value at all. All it was was an illustration of what could happen if the Cold War had turned and the Russians decided to invade America. It was terrible, then, it is likely to be terrible now. Not to mention that the studio behind it has given it to a first time director. No chance this will be good. Although I do give credit to Chris Hemsworth who is slated to star in it. He will have another blockbuster under his belt, but at least he has Thor to salvage his reputation.

Finally, Tony Scott talks about his desire to make a new Warriors flick. He makes it clear that he does not want to remake the movie; he essentially wants to reboot it. But he mentions all the trouble he has been having writing a script, and that he doesn't seem to be able to add a new twist to the original story. Now here is a man who has the right idea. He wants to make a certain movie, but he may not because he is unsure if it will be compelling. Tony Scott has create a multitude of beautiful, well-directed, over the top action films, and for all intents and purposes, he can do some amazing things with the Warriors. But he might not make it because he isn't sure he can add anything new to it. Bravo, Tony. I wish the rest of Hollywood would follow your example.

Fans of the film Akira may be disappointed to learn that the live action version of the film has been cancelled. This is really quite a shame. Akira is one of the best made, most influential anime films of all-time. A live action Akira certainly would have kicked ass, and been an awesome summer blockbuster for whichever studio decided to release it. Hopefully, the project will be revived somewhere down the road.


The Hangover

I had heard a lot of good things about the new movie The Hangover; a lot of people have been touting it as the funniest movie of the year. Despite all of this, I really didn't have any desire to see it. However, last night my girlfriend tells me that her friends are going to the movies and she wanted to go, too. OK, I have taken her to see many movies that she just wasn't into, so I say no problem.

We get to the theater, get out tickets, popcorn, and seats, and right before the trailers roll, she gets a call from her friend saying she can't make it because someone's car broke down and she needs to pick him/her up. No big deal; we will watch the movie ourselves.

I really don't know what the big deal is. I will admit that The Hangover is a well made movie. The characters are well acted. The story was well scripted. It is a very good idea for a movie. However, the humor thing just wasn't doing it for me.

Now I know it's me. Over the past couple of years I have grown a dislike for current comedies. People all the time say to me "You didn't think that was funny?" No, dick jokes just don't do it for me. Wedding Crashers is a good example. I hate that movie. I think it is so unfunny that Vince Vaughn should be embarrassed by it. But it was a rousing success, so there must be something to it that just doesn't get me.

This is how I felt about The Hangover. There were only two times I chuckled at it. I could see the humor; I got the jokes. They just weren't funny to me. In fact, the only two jokes that I thought were humorous (the allusions to Rain Man and A Beautiful Mind) were completely un-laughed-at by everyone else in the theater besides me. This just pretty much cemented my belief that my sense of humor is completely different from the rest of the world.

I'm not saying The Hangover sucked. In fact, I'm saying quite the opposite. It was a highly entertaining movie; it just wasn't my kind of humor.

But there was definitely way too much penis in it. I'm just saying.


This is too funny...

I'm sorry. I just had to share this with my readers. It's too good to pass up.

fail owned pwned pictures

How can people be that dumb?

Why are these things so hard to find?

I love collecting the lenticular cups from 7-11. I have the Iron Man cups, the Spider-Man 3 cups and the new X-men Origins: Wolverine cups. So, after seeing the advertisements for the Transformers 2 cups, i couldn't wait to get them, as well as try the Bumblebee Blast flavored Slurpee.

So why the hell is it that almost no 711's near me have these cups?

Seriously, I went to 4 different locations, and none of them had the lenticular cups. They had the small one with the sticker sheet on it, but no larger ones. What the hell?

Oh, I should also add that they all had plenty of stock on the Terminator: Salvation cups. I guess they realized how much of a flop that promotion was and refuse to sell the Transformers cups until they are out of those. Yeah, that shit doesn't fly with me. I have never walked out of a 711 without getting a Slurpee until recently. I ain't buying no T:4 cup.

I did manage to find one location that had them. I picked up Bumblebee with an Optimus Prime straw, Ravage with a Bumblebee straw, and Megatron with a Fallen straw. All that's left is Optimus Prime with a Megatron straw. I'll probably take a ride over tomorrow and get that one, just to complete the collection.

Oh, and I never did try the Bumblebee Blast flavor. I guess each 711 one gets one box of syrup and when it's gone, it's gone. Bastards.


This is beautiful...

I don't remember where I saw the link to Sideshow Collectibles' website, but I did and stumbled upon this beauty.

As you can probably tell by now, I am a huge fan of the X-Men. I never really paid too much attention to X-23 after she debuted on 'X-Men Evolution' but when she became a regular character in New X-Men: Academy X, she really caught my eye. Laura has proven herself to be a true badass, as chronicled by her adventures in Wolverine's X-Force. This Comiquette pays perfect homage to the Lovely Lady Logan.

You can check out more specs on the statue here. I would love to purchase this, as it would go perfectly with my other pieces of Marvel art in my living room, but there are two things working against me. Number 1: from what I can tell, the piece is sold out. At least, that's what I gather from Sideshow's site. Number 2: the price tag is a little out of my range. Don't get me wrong; two hundred bucks for this masterpiece is well worth it. Unfortunately, my pockets are a little light, and until the US Government starts allowing citizens to sell internal organs, that won't be changing anytime soon. So, until I hit the lottery, or that bank heist I'm planning comes to fruition, I'll just have to placate myself with looking at the pictures.

But this brings up another dilemma. Just the other day it was pointed out to me that Sideshow had crafted a statue of Emma Frost, based on the art of J. Scott Campbell. The problem? I fell in love with this one also. But again, that whole money thing gets in the way. Two hundred and fifty bucks? Definitely worth it, but out of my league.

I really need to do something to hit the big time. I am a true collector at heart; I save damn near everything. And when I see something that I want, it is the hardest thing in the world to deny myself. However, with my financial woes, I need to curb my spending. If that means I have to do without these two gorgeous statues, then that's what it means.

At least I'm artistic. Maybe I'll invest in some materials and sculpt these ladies myself. They won't come out exactly, but at least it's something. And it will help me pass the time, instead of watching the same shitty movies on HBO all day.


Mickey Rourke as Whiplash

First images came through today of Mickey Rourke as Whiplash, a villain in Iron Man 2. Being a fan of the first Iron Man, and greatly looking forward to the sequel, I honestly don't know how I feel about this get-up.

Mickey Rourke certainly looks like a bad-ass, but of course, he doesn't need all the extra gear to achieve that look. It looks like the original Iron Man power supply is intact, considering the glowing white spot on his chest, so this is clearly a Stark Enterprises invention. But this isn't what I expected when I first heard the Whiplash would be in the movie.

I'll admit, I was never a big Iron Man fan growing up; I stuck mostly with Spider-Man and the X-Men. But these movies actually have me enjoying the character. However, my ignorance of his enemies has me baffled over what to expect, which is good and bad. The bad is I expect things that will likely never come to fruition, such as in an instance like this. I just imagined that Whiplash's costume would be full bodied, not the few attachments along a bare man's chest (not to mention the orange tunic that he is wearing).

But the positive side of my ignorance is that I most likely won't be disappointed when cannon is changed. Not knowing anything about the characters means that I won't know what's been left out. As it stands, Whiplash might as well be a bare-chested muscle head (even if he isn't) and it won't matter one whit to me.

But all chest-hairs aside, I am excited about Iron Man 2. Hopefully, it will be as good as the original, and not suffer the same fate as Fantastic Four 2.


X-Men Origins: Magneto

After watching the first X-Men film yesterday, I've been thinking a lot about the franchise. There was talk a short time ago about a Magneto spin-off, and I do believe, now that Wolverine is in the can and proven to be a success, Magneto's film is moving forward.

Unfortunately, trying to come up with recent news about it online proves unsuccessful for the most part. I did find an article about Bryan Singer wanting to return to directing more X-Men based films, but he kind of insinuates that he isn't interested in doing a Magneto film because he "...lived in that world." (He directed Apt Pupil, a film about a Nazi war criminal, which also starred Ian McKellen.)

The only other news I read about Magneto is back from November of 2008, which talks about David Goyer writing and directing the film, which would be cool with me. David Goyer is a decent director (having done Blade: Trinity), but has proven to be a fantastic writer, with both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight under his belt. Can he do justice to a Magneto film? Yes, I've no doubt.

One thing that I would like to see in X-Men Origins: Magneto is an appearance by Wolverine. It doesn't have to be anything lengthy, but after X-Men Origins: Wolverine showed, Logan played a part in World War II, so it would seen natural that he appears somewhere in Germany, and helps to tie the continuity together. Maybe that's me asking for too much, but I think it would be a nice throw to the fans, not unlike Professor X's short stint in Wolverine.

Anyway, I'm excited to see how they pull off a movie about Magneto. He is certainly one of the most interesting X-villain out there, with a rich, deep history. Will they add Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch? Maybe change the history so that he is the reason professor X is bound to a wheelchair? Who knows?


More Thor News...

So it seems that IMDB is confirming the rumor that Chris Hemsworth will play Thor is the upcoming film based on the Norse God of Marvel Comics. But ironically, they are questioning the news that Tom Hiddleston has been cast as Loki. What's up with this? Marvel themselves released the news that Hiddleston had the part so why doesn't IMDB believe it?

They also list Samuel L. Jackson as being rumored to be in the film, which would be likely since Nick Fury will probably try to enlist Thor into the Avengers. But they may take a different turn, like they did with the Incredible Hulk, and have Tony Stark or a different SHIELD officer appear in Thor. Who knows until it happens.

You can also check out the logos for Thor, as well as the other upcoming Marvel films, here. That shit looks pretty good, I'd say.

Finally saw Star Trek...

Even though I had heard nothing but good things about the new Star Trek, I still didn't expect myself to like it as much as I did. But, needless to say, it was friggin' awesome.

The visuals were amazing, and with JJ Abrams behind the helm, I assumed they would be. He does such a great job episode after episode with 'Lost', and Star Trek just followed his pattern.

As far as the storyline goes, it was nothing that I expected it to be. The time paradox that they created was a believable way to mash the future with the past and reboot the concept of Star Trek. As I was talking about it with a few of my co-workers, one of them asked which Enterprise Kirk captained because "he destroyed the Enterprise C and is now the captain of D." It was refreshing to tell him that all of that shit is now irrelevant.

The acting was also top notch. Besides the fact that Chris Pine has done nothing of note besides Smokin' Aces and Just My Luck (both of which were popularly un-noteworthy), he really lands the bad-ass James Kirk. His drive to be the best and oozing arrogance while fighting an inner self-loathing brought so much more depth to the character, and made him far more interesting than William Shatner ever could. Karl Urban as Bones made a good side-kick to Kirk and quite often acted as an external conscience. It was also good to see him shake off the whole Doom fiasco and actually make a good movie.

But the clear winner was Zachery Quinto. Despite his roles in 24 and Heroes, Quinto really brings Spock to life. His struggle with emotion was well done and he made the perfect foil to the brash, look-before-you-leap Kirk. He even looks like a young Leonard Nimoy.

I was never a big fan of Star Trek, which is why I waited so long to see this movie as I did. But I am really glad that I finally saw it because now, I do believe I am a fan. I'm not gonna go running around in a USS Enterprise uniform like some people do, but now I would be against checking out the other films or even the old television show. I'm not quite ready to make the leap into Enterprise or Deep Space 9, but maybe eventually. For now, baby steps.


Hollywood needs to stop.

Over the past couple of years, too many movies have been remade. Some of them have been worth the effort, but most of them have just fallen flat. Now, it has been announced that at least five different franchises are set to either be remade or rebooted. And it's just getting out of hand.

Short Circuit - Producer David Foster says that he wants to bring Johnny 5 to the 21st century and examine all of the awesome advancements that robotics have made since the mid 80's. He then goes on to say that the visual look of Johnny 5 won't be updated. Why? If you're going to make a new robot movie, then make a new robot, something similar to Asimo, with a really creepy 'Uncanny Valley' quality to it. Otherwise, leave this movie alone.

Total Recall - OK, this might be a good idea. Total Recall had a great premise to it, being based on a Phillip K. Dick story, but I don't think it was pulled off very well. Hopefully, the remake will deliver on more than the original did.

Girls Just Want To Have Fun - Why?

Scream - Seeing as how this movie is only 13 years old, isn't it a little early to reboot the franchise? Three movies, all of which were successful (although not very good) should have been enough. Why go and reboot the series now? It just doesn't make sense, except for the studio trying to cash in on teen horror films and not having a single original idea to play with. Did I just solve the mystery?

Alien - I am honestly torn on this one. Modern special effects can make Alien a visual orgasm, but the original is so good I don't want them to fuck it up. But, with the recent reboot of Star Trek, at least there is the possibility that it can be something decent, if not better, and at least turn a new audience on to the franchise without those dreadful '...vs. Predator' films that they have been subjected to. This one I will wait to pass judgement on until it actually comes out.

In all, I think Hollywood needs to develop some new ideas and quit looking to the past for future movies. Or, if they do, remake old, shitty movies and make them better, like The Arrival or Howard the Duck. The next thing you know, they are going to try and reboot Back To The Future, which can only end in tragedy.

If Hollywood really needs ideas, look at all of the great fiction out there that can benefit from a big screen production. Neil Gaiman has 'Anasi Boys' and 'Neverwhere' both of which have rich storylines and deep characters, and would make for visual spectaculars. Not to mention the hundreds of comic book properties not belonging to Marvel or DC that would make for great viewing material. 'Bone' could be made as a 3D CGI film, in the vein of the newest TMNT, and would rock. Then you have Y: The Last Man or Brian Michael Bendis' Powers. All awesome and all ready for the film treatment.

Come on, Hollywood! Do something new. If we wanted the same old shit, we would go to Blockbuster instead of Regal. We want new, good movies. And, if we could make them without you, we would. But for now, we are at your mercy.


His Dark Materials

A few weeks ago, my friend lent me The Golden Compass, as I had asked him about them in the past. He gave me a little bit of background about it, that the author is an Atheist and there are very anti-religious undertones to the entire series. Being an Atheist myself, I decided that this was awesome and took the book home.

Two days later I was in Borders purchasing The Subtle Knife, because I couldn't wait to see my friend again to borrow his copy.

Last night I finished The Amber Spyglass, the last book in the His Dark Materials series. All I have to say is, Wow.

I first saw the movie The Golden Compass shortly after it came out on DVD. I thought it was good, but that was only due to the fact that I hadn't yet read the book. After reading the book I can say that the film was shortsighted in comparison, leaving out the most important parts.

I never expected the three books to be as put together so well as they had been. Philip Pullman's style of writing seems clunky at first, but as you go deeper into it, you begin to enjoy the nuances of his word choice. His descriptions of the worlds and the characters gives you enough so that you form an almost perfect picture in your mind, without bogging the novel down with endless descriptions.

And the story... About halfway through The Golden Compass, I was having trouble finding the anti-religious sentiment that had caused such as uproar when the movie was released. But by the end of it, that notion was dead center, staring me in the face. And what a notion it was. I was shocked by how bold Pullman made the Lord Asriel character, being willing to undertake a feat like what he had proposed to do.

The Subtle Knife was equally awesome in it's complexities and plot development. I don't want to go into too much detail about the story because it's really something you need to read in order to appreciate it.

It's really a shame that Americans are so uptight about their religions that they would be willing to stifle anything that disagrees with it. But I suppose that is the definition of ignorance. Despite the fact that Philip Pullman is a devout Atheist, his stories are well crafted and well thought out. The entire time I was reading books 2 and 3, I kept saying to myself that it's such a shame they would never be adapted into films. It's unfortunate that people like this feel the need to strike down anything that goes against their religion, which is bullshit in itself. From what they preach, god endowed all of us with free will and the ability to think for ourselves. Unfortunately, the zealots of those religions that follow this same god decide that they know better than we do and shove their opinions down our throats. That's a little like undermining the will of god, is it not?

Every protest I've read online states that Philip Pullman and New Line Cinema want to "trick" you into taking your children to see the movie and buying them the books. Are you serious? As a grown-up and a parent, you are so easily swayed by what others tell you to do that you blindly follow their lead? Oh, well, I guess that's true, otherwise you wouldn't be a Christian, would you?

His Dark Materials is a shining example of literature that could have translated very well onto the big screen. However, due to the bitching and whining and breath-holding of the zealots in the world (most of whom I can guarantee are Americans) that will never come to fruition.

And it's a shame really.

Just watch the shit storm I will unleash when they try to turn Left Behind into a movie.
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