Here we are at the end of 2007, and it’s time for a look back.
Before we look back though, I have to be honest and say that there are a few movies that I haven’t seen and some that I am looking forward to seeing before the year is over.
Top among those are I AM LEGEND starring Will Smith. I would probably see this movie simply because Will Smith is in it. As it stands though, it looks promising as far as the story goes (I’ve never read the graphic novel.). Smith has come a loooong way since his “Take it from me, parents just don’t understand” days alongside Jazzy Jeff. He has solidified himself as one of the better actors of our time. Even though I still have friends who can’t get past the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, after his work in films like ALI and THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS, it cannot be denied that Will Smith is a wonderful actor. So, I am looking forward to a movie that is going to push his acting by having him and him alone on screen for a large chunk of the film.
Also, I haven’t seen BEOWULF yet. However, I still intend to. I am intrigued by the motion capture animation style of the film, and I have been intrigued by the story of Beowulf since I first read it in my lit class in high school.
Then there’s ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS. I sat GARFIELD out. Mainly because of Odie. I didn’t like the look of Odie as they presented him on the big screen and I wasn’t too keen on another live action cartoon. Every trailer I’ve seen of ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS has made me laugh though, so I will probably spring a matinee fee to go see it.
Ultimately, 2007 was across the board a decent year for geeks on several levels.
In the world of books and literature, we were treated to HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS. I actually didn’t read any of the Harry Potter books until this year. It all started when I was at my house one day just doing some cleaning and ABC Family was running the first three movies back to back to back in anticipation of their premiere of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (I think). I was flipping channels and I saw some kids run through a wall to a train station on the other side and I thought, “That’s pretty neat.” Before I knew it, I was sucked in to the story of Harry Potter via the first film. I had seen PRISONER OF AZKABAN with a friend who just wanted someone to go watch it with her, so I wasn’t unfamiliar with the characters or anything, I just wasn’t into the whole Harry Potter phenomenon. Now, though, I went out and bought each book as finished the previous one. I was blown away by J.K. Rowlings ability to write teen angst without making me roll my eyes and think the kids were all too stupid to continue to invest in. (Yes, I ended a sentence with a preposition…sue me.) The problem was that I finished HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF BLOOD PRINCE months before DEATHLY HALLOWS was released. So I got caught up in all the speculation and discussions about what would happen and who would die.
When I finally got my hands on the seventh and final book in the series, I devoured it. I was totally invested in Hermione’s and Ron’s relationship with each other. I got choked up when Ron came back to the trio after leaving so angrily. I nearly got mad when, during a break in chapters, I thought for a split second that Hagrid had died. I was thrilled when Mrs. Weasly finally broke loose and showed just how tough she was. I absolutely cheered when Harry finally faced down his Lord Voldemort and defeated evil. I was a kid again. In fact, every single book took me to that place that I think everyone has inside of them. That place of childhood wonder at the world around you.
In comics, things are a bit more complicated.
In DC comics, 52 ended and the Countdown begun, thus proving that you can’t make magic happen intentionally, and lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice. What do I mean by that? Well, DC pulled off something successful, innovative, and very well-received in the form of 52. However, to immediately follow that up with a series that is released the same way as 52 without the apparent detail to timing and continuity shows that the DC higher ups saw a dollar figure more than another creative oppurtunity.
DC also took a step toward a more Silver Age feel in their books. This could be good…this could be bad. So far, it’s been both. It depends largely on who’s writing and what they’ve been given and green lit to write. Hopefully, DC will answer continuity questions and settle into a long term status quo with their books in Final Crisis. This whole year for DC has seemed very hit and miss in terms of quality. Further, it seems that DC has no real sense of where it’s headed or why.
That’s not to say there hasn’t been some good stuff realeased by DC. There has been some stuff that I wish I was collecting and some stuff that I have bit the bullet and picked up whether my budget can handle the strain or not. Truthfully, ’08 has more potential for DC to get things on a great track more than Marvel.
In Marvel comics, 2007 saw Civil War end, The Hulk wage war, Captain America die, and Skrulls rear their ugly heads again. While Civil War is an interesting concept, the end result left things so open ended and in disarray that many people are scratching their heads wondering if Marvel can get things back on track for themselves without God (as portrayed by Jack Kirby) wiping the slate clean and starting over.
This is not to say that Civil War wasn’t compelling, interesting, or good, only that it may have been too much.
Then there’s the death of Captain America. This event has been handled pretty well by the Marvel Bullpen. While Captain America will be back, (and most likely Steve Rogers as well one day) his death has been treated like the event it should be.
While I really enjoyed everything I got to read on the World War Hulk front, the story wasn’t the Earth-shattering event it promised to be in the months leading up to the Green Goliath’s return to Earth. Sentinel continues to be a poor shadow of what Superman is in DC comics, and the question of how the Hulk will go back to being simply hounded by the military while Bruce Banner hides and finds a cure is yet to be seen.
Skrulls are back, and while I thought the first appearance of a Skrull in the Avengers title was supposed to signal an invasion of sorts, I haven’t seen or heard anything major happening yet.
Marvel, through 2007, showed that (in their comics) they continue to tell great stories that start big and just kind of fizzle out at the end. I think it’s time to go back to what works for them and get centered. Quit messing around too much in your heroes lives and get back to some good old fashioned hero vs. villain action for a while.
Both companies have gone the way of writing for the trades and killing us with crossovers. Remember when you could collect one book and know what was going on with that character or team fairly consistently?
There were a few straight to DVD releases this year that I picked up.
In January, Marvel continued it’s line of animated titles with THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN. The DVD came out the week of my birthday, so I picked it up as a present to myself. I should have grabbed an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen instead. The movie just didn’t pop with me. There was never the moment that made me say, “This is worth the price of admission.” Ultimate Avengers had it, when Captain America goes in to fight the Hulk, I was on the edge of my seat thinking, “Holy monkey spit! They’re gonna fight!” Ultimate Avengers 2 didn’t really have that moment, but it was still more watchable, in my opinion, that THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN.
As far as Super Heroes in any type of feature, that was the first one of the year, so things got off to not so hot a start in ’07 for our super powered friends. In my mind, I had to wonder, “Would things get better?”