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Archive for May, 2008

Secret Invasion – My 10,000,000 Point Call

30

May

Posted by Steve

When I was in college, I’d get together every Monday night with a bunch of guys to watch wrestling. We’d sit around and try to figure out which storyline was going where and how certain matches would end up or what would happen in a match. We had a point system for our “calls.” For example, if I called that Ric Flair would be thrown into a turnbuckle, flip over it, run across the ring apron and get clotheslined that was a one point call. If I called that Vince MacMahon would show up on Monday Night Nitro, that was a 50 million point call. (Until it actually happened.)

I’ve continued this trend with some of my geek friends about TV shows, movies, and comics we enjoy.

Tonight, just for you dear readers, I want to make a call. I was doing some cleaning up and reorganizing of some comics after getting a new long box when it occurred to me that I didn’t know where some of my comics are. I had at one time nearly the entire run of Secret Wars and the entire of run of Secret Wars II (not bragging.). I started looking for them, and then something dawned on me. (At this point I should point out that I also have the entire run of what some call Secret Wars III, a story arc that ran throughout the Fantastic Four title that culminated in the discovery that Beyonder, along with the Molecule Man, was an incomplete cosmic cube. The two joined to form a cube, and the Beyonder was apparently no more.)

This whole Secret Invasion thing, while it is a bid by the Skrulls for control of Earth, we find that they have remarkable access to the DNA of superheroes throughout the Marvel Universe. How? (I know it’s been explained some.) Also, we know that the Skrulls are on a religious quest of some sort. In fact, when the invasion began, the Skrulls would say, “He loves you.” So the question is “Who is ‘He’?”

Here’s my 10,000,000 point call. “He” is the Beyonder. In some ways it’s ridiculous. In other ways, it seems like something Marvel would do right about now. Think about it, what would be the most surprising thing that the folks at Marvel comics could do? Throw us a curve ball like The Beyonder!!!! I’m totally sold on this idea. Here are a few pics for reference:
250px_SecretwarsII3.pngfantasticfour319.jpg

I don’t know what happened in Marvel’s recent series “Beyond!” So, I don’t know just how infeasable the idea is. I do concede that it is infeasable, but the extent of the infeasability is what I’m not sure of, hence it’s a 10 million point call. Yeah, it’s crazy, but you gotta admit, it’s as intriguing as it is totally stupid, and how many times does that happen in comics? So, yeah, I’m totally calling it and I am totally sold on the idea. “He” is the Beyonder….unless it’s The High Evolutionary….crap.

Want to know more about these characers? Pick up one of the books below and help the site out.

New Incredible Hulk TV Spot Puts Some Things Into Perspective

29

May

Posted by Steve

There is a lot of great buzz building around this movie on the web.  Hulk Hands are selling out at Wal-Marts all over the place.   Even casual movie goers I talk to are looking forward to this based on what they’ve seen, and as a Hulk fan for years, I couldn’t be happier.  I know that we haven’t seen the biggest moments.  I know that there’s some stuff in the movie that the clips, trailers, and TV spots haven’t shown us that will blow our collective minds.  I can NOT wait

Then there’s this:

The newest TV spot for THE INCREDIBLE HULK tells us that “the Marvel Super Hero Experience becomes incredible!”  I love that idea of marketing.  It lets people know that Marvel Studios isn’t just putting out movies of there characters individually, rather they are attempting to create a super hero experience for movie audiences.  I know we all know this.  “We” being the geeks.  We eat up every tid bit of information we can when it comes to these types of movies, but it is so cool to hear it kind of put out there for the world at large.  Here’s the spot that has a few new snippets and a great moment at the end between Bruce and Betty.

Incredible Hulk Soundtrack is HUGE!!!

24

May

Posted by Steve

Amazon has the Incredible Hulk soundtrack available for pre-order. The soundtrack is two discs with a total of 45 TRACKS!!!! Apparently they’re going for broke. 45 tracks on 2 discs means two things:

First, the tracks are obviously short.

Second, they are putting out a complete score. Someone must be impressed with Craig Armstrong’s work in composing for the movie.

We’ve all heard the strains of “The Lonely Man” theme in the trailers and on the website, but it’s nice to see that it’s an actual track on the soundtrack.

Here is the complete track listing according to Amazon.com:
Disc: 1
1. The Arctic
2. Main Title
3. Rocinha Favela
4. A Drop of Blood
5. The Flower
6. Ross’ Team
7. Mr. Blue
8. Favela Escape
9. It Was Banner
10. That Is The Target
11. Bruce Goes Home (with “The Lonely Man” performed by Craig Armstrong, written by Joseph Harnell (ASCAP))
12. Ross And Blonsky
13. Return To Culver University
14. The Lab
15. Reunion
16. The Data/The Vial
17. They’re Here
18. Give Him Everything You’ve Got
19. Bruce Can’t Stay
20. First Injection
21. Is it safe?
22. Hulk Theme

Disc: 2
1. Saved From The Flames
2. Grotto
3. Arrival At The Motel
4. I Can’t
5. Abomination Alley
6. Bruce Found
7. Bruce Looks For The Data
8. NYC Cab Ride
9. The Mirror
10. Sterns’ Lab
11. Bruce Darted
12. I Want It, I Need It
13. Blonsky Transforms
14. Bruce Must Do It
15. Harlem Brawl
16. Are They Dead?
17. Hulk Smash
18. Hulk And Betty
19. A Tear
20. Who’s We?
21. The Necklace
22. Bruce And Betty
23. Hulk Theme (End Credits)

Click on the link below to pre-order the soundtrack and help out the site while you’re at it.

Attack of the Skrulls – Secret Invasion # 2 Reviewed

24

May

Posted by Steve

secret_invasion_2.jpgI will say right from the outset of this review, I am totally digging the Secret Invasion concept. What I’m not digging are the crossovers into other books. I understand crossing over into regular monthly titles. That’s fine. My problem is that there are some of the crossovers into regular monthlies that should have either been one shots or dubbed Secret Invasion #0. I’m referring to some of the Avengers crossover stuff. The Fantastic Four Secret Invasion 3 issue mini I’m enjoying. I like the idea of having to follow the team who first encountered Skrulls and defeated them. It also makes sense that the Skrulls would try to completely remove the FF from the equation. If anyone on Earth can devise a way to stop them, it’s Reed Richards. I have yet to see what is being done in all of the crossovers into regular monthly titles, but if the trend of having none of the characters of the regular title appear in the book continues, I will be a little annoyed by them.

Secret Invasion 2 picks up right where issue # 1 left off. The heroes of Earth are in a stare down with the people who got off the ship that crashed in the Savage Land. As Tony Stark’s armor continues to buzz that it is failing and has been infiltrated with a virus, the two groups of “heroes” talk back and forth and finally go to fighting. As they stand off is happening, Ares constantly tells his companions to flee. Hawkeye is stunned by the appearance of his one time love interest Mockingbird (who is, of course, thought to be dead.)  As the fighting begins, we get some fun banter between the two Spider-Mans…  uhm …Spider-Men?  Anywho, it’s funny to hear them go at it a bit.   Vision goes after Sentry and reveals himself to be a Skrull as he changes his form to the Void.  This of course drives Sentry nuts and he flies off.  (We do see him back at the battle though, so it’s possible that Skrull-Vision shifted to take the form of Sentry.)

As the battle rages, Warbird flies Iron Man away from things.  Stark can barely muster strength to talk much less walk in his now useless armor.   However, he instructs Warbird (I guess she’s calling herself Ms. Marvel again.  I’m just getting back into the comic scene remember.) to take him to a laboratory that he knows is nearby.  Apparently, he plans to build new armor that the Skrulls can’t infect with their alien techno-virus.

The fight is broken up by a Dinosaur and everyone scatters. (As Wolverine says, Dinosaurs have that effect.)  Spider-Skrull is smashed in the dino-attack, and we see Mockingbird weeping over a dead Hawkeye that turns out to be a Skrull.  The real Hawkeye comes out from hiding in the trees just as Wolverine is about to kill Mockingbird.  He asks her to answer something that only the two of them would know.  He is satisfied that she’s the real deal.  She tells them that the Captain America that landed with them is the real deal as well.  She also reveals that the Skrulls that are here on earth are on a suicide mission.

Back in Manhattan, the Young Avengers watch as the top portion of the Baxter Building is vortexed away.  (From reading Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four, we know they have been taken to the Negative Zone by Lyja.  Interesting to see her again by the way.)  The Baxter is suddenly replaced by a Skrull warship.   It opens up and teleports (by my count) 25 Super Skrulls to the planet’s surface.  In the mix is a classic Super Skrull with the powers of the Fantastic Four, an X-Men Super Skrull with the powers of Wolverine, Colossus, and Cyclops, a Giant Super Skrull which apparently possesses the Avengers powers, one with Archangel’s powers and what looks like either ice or blue energy rays blasting from his hands, and Iron Man Super Skrull or two, a Captain America Super Skrull, a Super Skrull with villains powers including Doc Ock’s arms and a Sandman arm (maybe a Sinister Six Super Skrull), and in the middle of them all a Super Skrull with the combined powers (apparently) of the Illimunati.

As I said from the outset of this review, I am totally digging on Secret Invasion.  This second issue does a lot to further the events of the first and tack on more new problems and mysteries.  Is Mockingbird really the real deal?  Can we even remotely think that the Captain America from the ship is the real Steve Rogers?  (I don’t think so.)  What about Reed Richards?  He’s not dead (is he?).   How can our heroes even hope to combat an army of Super Skrulls?

I especially like that it seems that Tony Stark is starting to take another hero’s journey.  I kind of thought going in that this would be the story that redeems him from being seen as the bad guy from Civil War.  With what we’ve seen in this issue, it looks like we may get that yet.

Story 5 out of 5 – As much as I’ve been disappointed by some of the crossover issues since last months premiere issue of Secret Invasion, the main story has got me hooked right now.  There’s action, there’s mystery, there’s suspense, and I sound like a movie announcer from the 1930′s.  Everything just came together in this issue to do what it needed to entertain me and bring me back next month.  I’ll probably even check out some of the crossover stuff between this and issue # 3.

Art 4 out of 5 - There are four really awesome two page splashes in this issue.  Two at the beginning, one in the middle, and one at the end.  The rest of the time  I think panels and pages are used appropriately to tell the story.   Throughout the fight, there is a lot to look at.  I had to stop and just look at almost every page to take it all in.   I dock a point because of the four really awesome splash pages.  That’s eight pages to show four scenes.  I feel like maybe some of the action could have been better served to do a half page to a page splash of the Dinosaur breaking everything up.

Cover 4 out of 5 - I’m referring to the main cover, I have none of the variants.  I like this cover so much better than the first issue’s cover.   It could be safe to say that this is a cover full of Skrulls.   I say that because we know for sure that three of the characters on the cover turn out to be Skrulls in the story.  I like the painted look.  I just like this cover.  I dock a point because it would have been nice to see something with a bit more action in it.

All in all, this story has gotten me hooked after two issues, and I hope that it continues right on through the end.  I won’t lie…I don’t really expect it to.  Marvel has track record in recent years of building up to a big finish only to have a not so big finish.  So we will see.  We will see.

I Felt Stupid and I Heard Words Uttered that I Never Thought I’d Hear Again and Then I Reviewed Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

23

May

Posted by Steve

indy_4_final.jpgHow’s that for a long title? And it’s all true…or at least it will be once I’m through writing this. Before you read on, know that this is going to be one spoiler heavy review. So, if you haven’t seen the movie, wait til you’ve seen it to read this. Seriously. Even if you think you want to be spoiled….wait. Because more than this is a review it’s a response to other reviews I’ve read online.

One of the most poignant lines in the movie takes place early on, as the dean of the University tells Indy that they’ve come to the point where life is taking more than it’s giving now. I think this is a message to all of us movie fans/geeks out there. It’s message that those of us who were children of the eighties are all grown up now. When it comes to entertainment, if you’re a child of the eighties, you pretty much grew up in somewhat of a golden age. Sadly, the days of the magic that captured our imagination may be gone. Let’s face it, in the past few years we’ve had to say goodbye to a lot of things. We saw Rocky leave the ring for the last time. We watched as Rambo finally went home. All of our long night conversations about the Clone Wars and why Darth Vader turned were declared null and void. Our passion for playing with toys was replaced with a desire to horde collectibles and sell them to the highest bidder. Somewhere along the way our wonderment at action, adventure, and the excitement that movie magic brings was replaced with a cynical look at all things we used to simply enjoy. We’ve come to that point where we can’t just sit down and enjoy something anymore. without it being deeper, darker, and more “adult.” We’ve said goodbye to a lot, and if this is indeed one last goodbye to Iniana Jones, then I think it’s a fitting one.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull does it’s best to bring us back to that place of wonderment and fun, and if you’ll let it, it succeeds.

This is an Indiana Jones movie. Period. I don’t know what people expected from this movie, but a lot of those trashing it seem to not get the spirit of the original Indy films.

These movies are not arthouse films. They’re not meant to be the next Citizen Kane. They never were. They’re meant to be over the top thrill-a-minute fun movies. KOTCS falls right in line with all of the originals.

About halfway through the movie I realized I had a big dumb grin on my face. I couldn’t stop smiling. I couldn’t stop enjoying every chase, every mystery solved, every dire situation, and even the snake. I just enjoyed it.

Let’s break this thing down though.

First, the story. I’ve heard comments like “over the top,” “too much,” and “unbelievable.” To that I say, “HELLO! IT’S INDIANA JONES!” Let’s look at the first three films. Unless you believe in the God of the Bible, a golden box that unleashes the wrath of God and melts faces is unbelievable and over the top. That was Raiders. Unless you believe in pagan gods and black magick, then it’s over the top to believe in three magical stones and a priest of a dark cult that can pull a man’s heart from is chest and the person stay alive until burned to death. That’s Temple of Doom. Unless you believe in the Grail Legend and that a knight could live in a cave by himself for over a thousand years and speak perfect modern english even though he’s never been exposed to it, then the events and artifacts of The Last Crusade are over the top.

In all three of the original movies there are situations that nobody should be able to survive and yet it happens.

So, the premise of KOTCS isn’t all that far fetched to me. It takes established legends and puts the “What if it were real?” spin on them. Aliens may seem like they have no place in an Indiana Jones movie, but let’s face it, Aliens are as paranormal as anything else in the Indiana Jones movies.

Then there’s the acting. It seems that everyone agrees that Harrison Ford is back. I have to agree with everyone. Ford slips back into this role easily and flawlessly. The hat and jacket seem to be as natural to him as breathing.

Karen Allen plays a Marion that’s not as young and cynnical as she was when we first met her in Raiders. Being a mother and enjoying life with a good man served to soften her up. However, not in a bad way. She can still scrap. Allen seems to understand something that a lot of movie fans don’t quite get. Parenthood changes a person. Priorities are different. Attitudes are different. Everything changes when a child comes into the picture. So, the Marion we get is not a carbon copy of the Marion of Raiders, it’s a woman who has grown and changed as her life has changed. Karen Allen does an outstanding job of walking the fine line between the woman who was and the woman who is now Marion.

Shia Labeouf is given the character of a young man who wants to be a greaser rebel, but who is much more. Mutt (Shia’s character) is the wild card of this movie. This is the character that could easily go either way. I think Lebeouf does a good job with what is given him. By the end of the movie, Mutt is almost ready to step into Indy’s shoes, but…not quite. That point is wrapped up in the final shot before the credits roll. Can one take or leave the character of Mutt Williams? I think a valid argument could be made that the character isn’t needed, but I also think he is used effectively and adds to the movie.

Ray Winstone as Mack. This is probably one of the better kept secrets of the movie. I had no idea what to expect from this character. I assumed early on that he would be comparable to John Rhys Davies’ Sallah. However, (and yet another spoiler alert) when he turns on Ind, then turns again, and turns yet again, he becomes the intriguing fly in the ointment of the whole adventure. He adds a dimension to the Indy sidekick that has never been there before.

Cate Blanchett as Irina Spalko, the villainess of the film. She is one of the Soviet’s psychic soldiers. When I heard this, I envisioned her reading minds and knowing plans. Truth be told though, she never does this. You get the idea that she’s just really clever, no so much psychic, and that’s how she’s remained in Stalin’s good graces. Cate Blanchett just disappears into this role. If it weren’t for her distinctive facial features, I wouldn’t know it was her. She does a good job of making you not like her for all the right reasons.

The big question is How does this movie stack up with the other three. I think it fits right in there. It’s better than Temple of Doom and almost as good The Last Crusade. A lot of people I’ve read have used that criticism as a negative reaction. I will be honest and say that I was unaware that there were so many people who were unhappy with The Last Crusade. I really like that movie. My good friend Derek from Starkville’s House of El told me that he thought the movie “looked” like The Last Crusade. I totally agree. There are obviously shots and moments of the movie where the blue screen and digital work isn’t up to what people have come to expect today, but would have been cutting edge and beyond back in the early nineties. In that respect it works. In other respects, there’s a moment with some digital prairie dogs and another with digital monkeys that all look very much like the animals from Jumanji. It does kind of jar you out of the movie for a minute…but not too long and not so much that you can’t easily get back into things.

There’s also been a lot said about Indy’s relationship with Mutt. Many people have commented (mostly to the negative) that Indy takes on a very sarcastic wise cracking attitude toward Mutt early on. I did not see this at all. In fact, I liked how Indy immediately took to Mutt and tried to help him more than anything else. Early on, it tends to hearken back to Indy’s relationship with Short Round, or at least what the beginnings of Iny’s relationship with Short Round may have been like. As I thought about it, I wasn’t surprised at all by Indy’s reaction to Mutt. After all, he IS a teacher, and we’ve seen him interact with young people before, not just Short Round, but his students as well. When he discovers that Mutt is his son, he immediately does what most sons do…he becomes his father. He calls Mutt “Junior,” he starts nagging him about school, and he beams with pride when Mutt does something good. It just fits into the character of an older Indiana Jones.

Ultimately, I felt stupid about halfway through this movie as (as I said before) I realized that I had a grin plastered on my face that I just couldn’t get rid of. I was enjoying myself that much.

Then, to put me over the top, and in a wink to Star Wars and Han Solo fans, Harrison Ford, as Indiana Jones, uttered words I never thought we’d hear Harrison Ford say in the movies again, “I have a bad feeling about this.” I almost peed my pants. Steven Speilberg said at the outset that this was a movie made for the fans. A quick shot of the Ark of the Covenant, iconic moments and shots, the return of Marion, over the top action, sound effects, and death scenes all come together to show us what Mr. Speilerg meant.

I really believe that if you are a fan of the Indiana Jones trilogy as we have known it, and you can still find that place in you that used to just enjoy movies as a kid, then you will enjoy this movie.

I give the movie a solid 4 out of 5, docking a point for some of the digital work that distracts for a minute or two from the film. Don’t go expecting the second coming of Raiders, don’t go expecting a deep character piecer, don’t go expecting an oscar award winning ground breaking movie. Go expecting a good old fashioned romp around the glob with an old friend. You’ll enjoy it.