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2007 – The Year in Geekdom (part 4)

31

Dec

Posted by Steve

While the debates raged, DC Continued it’s much bemoaned Countdown.  The Hulk continued to wage his War in New York City.  At the end of the Summer though, everyone stopped fussing and debating, and turned with great anticipation toward San Diego.  It was ComiCon time.

Everyone expected the Dark Knight to cast his shadow over the Con, but the Joker merely painted everyone’s face.    However, where Bruce Wayne decided to stay away, another successful playboy type made his mark.   Jon Favreau wowed the crowd with his reel of clips from Iron Man.   Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg made an appearance….sort of.  Along with a look at the Hulk and some cartoon stuff, geeks everywhere started to forget the debates of 2007 and look to the future.

As Fall and Winter rolled in, The Summer debates faded like the leaves on a tree and we, the geek nation sat back with full geek bellies anticipating the upcoming events.

We were pleased with the Bourne Ultimatum.  We gave a collective “It was OK”  to the Pirates at World’s End.  I was, hoever,  much more happy with it than I was the second installment of the Pirates trilogy.  The Consensus on John McClane’s vie to Live Free or Die Hard?  Should have gone for the “R” rating.  Again, I find myself at odds with the consensus.  I thought the action was as big as it could have been, the only thing we didn’t get was all of the “dirty words” of the previous three installments.  

As the hype of the Summer wore down and Rob Zombie remade HALLOWEEN, the geek eye began to strain to see into 2008.   However, right in the way of 2008 stood Will Smith, a German Shepherd, an empty New York City, and a whole bunch of vampire-like creatures that were the result of the cure for cancer. 

Apparently, I AM LEGEND was one of those projects that had been in the works for a long time.  In fact, The Governator was attatched to the project in it’s earliest stages.  Thank God he decided to go into politics and this thing didn’t get made until Will Smith could be involved.   Will Smith did an outstanding job of having nothing on screen but a few maniquins and a dog to play off of.  It was fascinating to watch the daily life of a man who had been totally isolated for three years.  It was fascinating to watch Will Smith bring the character of Robert Neville to life. 

The biggest problem I’ve heard that people have with I AM LEGEND is the digitalness of the Dark Seekers.  Frankly, those people must have an eye trained to be able to tell a good digital character from a poor one.  While the Dark Seekers were no Yoda from Episode 3, they weren’t so unrealistic as to be distracting.   The story though, and I can’t say it enough, is Will Smith.  His performance is the reason that 2007 has been able to end – for geeks – on a high note. 

Now, we look to 2008.  A monster will ravage New York, Rambo will kill again, Indy will strap on the whip, Stark will don the armor, The Hulk will smash, The Dark Knight will return, and we cannot wait.  Yes, 2008 promises to be a banner year for geeks and geekdom.  Truthfully, though, even before we see Iron Man take to the big screen, we will be talking about a sequel.  Before Batman beats the Joker, we will be anticipating his battle with Two Face.  Before Indiana finds the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull we will be speculating as to whether or not he’ll ever be back.  For it is the nature of the geek to ever look forward.  It is the nature of the geek to devour trailers, pictures, spy reports, and spoilers. It is the nature of the geek to pre-order comics, write their own ending, and endlessly e-mail their favorite creators.  We look ahead with the anticipation of a kid at Christmas because a geek is merely someone who hasn’t completely let go of the kid inside of them, and as we look forward, we hold on to that little boy or girl saving the world from the confines of the back yard.  We look forward as we look for a place that is safe to sit back and discuss all that we enjoy about geekdom.  And that brings me to the biggest geek event for me in 2007:

THE LAUNCHING OF GEEK OUT ONLINE.

Thank you to everyone who has, in the past few months not only checked the site out, but subscribed to the feed and podcast as well.  I’m looking forward to 2008 and all the fun we’ll have not only at the comic shops, DVD racks, and Movie theatres, but also the fun we’ll have here discussing our experiencing and immersing ourselves in total geekdom.  Happy New Year, may 2008 fulfill all of our geek wishes.

2007 – The Year In Geekdome (Part 2)

11

Dec

Posted by Steve

With 2006 behind us having given us a 14 disc Superman collector’s DVD set, Pirates of the Carribean 2, Superman Returns, and Peter Parker outing himself to the world, 2007 kind of started off with a whimper offering us THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN in a straight to DVD release.  Things were looking bleak. 

Fortunately, in the straight to DVD market, we weren’t left floundering about.   Marvel’s next release of the year came several months later in the form of DR. STRANGE.  

I was never a big fan of Dr. Strange in the comic books.  That is not to say that I didn’t like the character, just that I only knew him from guest appearances here and there.  In fact, the most exposure I ever had to Strange was in the short lived Defenders reboot in the late nineties.   In the title, he, The Silver Surfer, Namor, and the Hulk were bound by a curse to not be able to break up the team.   In the end, they brought out the darkest side of themselves and set up rule on the Earth to ultimately defeat the being that was behind the curse.  (I think that’s why they did that.)

Having little knowledge of the Dr. Strange mythology, I sat down to watch the DVD with little or no expectations and as the credits came up on my television screen, I was glad that I had picked up the DVD.   DR. STRANGE gave us a true hero’s journey complete with a great final confrontation and room for a sequel.  Things were looking up in the straight to DVD market and DC was getting ready to throw their hat into the ring with SUPERMAN: DOOMSDAY.

You can read my complete review of SUPERMAN: DOOMSDAY here.  Suffice to say that I really enjoyed it.   While Doomsday wasn’t really the centerpiece of the story, the movie itself was good.   It was a smart move on the part of the promotional team to use the words “inspired by” rather than “based on” the best selling graphic novel of all time.  For, while the Death and Return of Superman took place, very little else resembled the story from the comics.  However, it was a Superman movie, and it was good enough (to me) to watch more than once.

In the theatres, things went a little better than they did on the DVD shelf.  Not at first, but they got there.

The first comic book adaptation of the year was GHOST RIDER.  Ghost Rider is another character I was never really into.  Unlike Dr. Strange, though, I really never liked the character.  Visually he’s interesting and he makes a good guest appearance, but I never thought he was strong enough to carry his own book.  To carry his own film, he was gonna need more than Nicolas Cage.  A lot of work went into the Ghost Rider film.  It’s easy to forget that sometimes when something falls flat.  However, if you dig on the net a little, or watch the special features on the DVD, you’ll learn that the effects guys worked hard to make fire effects that wouldn’t look fake, stunt people worked hard and dangerously to accomplish some great stunts, and the heart of the director was in the right place.

Sadly, Ghost Rider couldn’t do what Blade accomplished so well in his first outing on the big screen.   I saw this movie in a packed theatre.  If nothing else, the promotion machine for the film did it’s job.  People bought into the visuals and funny bits from the trailers that flooded movie theatres and televisions. 

Honestly, Nic Cage wasn’t bad in the movie.  I don’t generally like him in much, but I enjoyed his role in this film and it gave me the great moment of “You’re walking all over Karen.”  The problem came down to trying to make Ghost Rider too funny.  There didn’t seem to be enough trust in the character as he’s written in comics, and anytime a movie maker chooses not to do that, the movie itself suffers.

I left the theatre not feeling like I’d wasted money on the movie, but disappointed that it wasn’t what I knew it could have been…the surprise hit of the year.  However, my disappointment wouldn’t last long.

While on television, Heroes was rushing to learn to stop an exploding man and Smallville was (again, in my opinion) stumbling it’s way toward one of the best season finales the show has ever had, Leonidas and his 300 were defending Greece against an onslaught of Persians.  I had never read 300.  In fact, (I’m a bit embarassed to admit) I didn’t know that Frank Miller’s graphic novel was a fantastic interpretation of an actual historical event.  

What I did know, though, was that Frank Miller’s unique stylized art was wonderfully reproduced in moving picture form.  That alone was enough to bring me to theatre to see this film.  When the movie was over, I walked out of the theatre hoping someone would oppress me just so I could KICK THEIR…ahem…so I could rise up and defeat them. 

Everything about 300 was amazing.  I wasn’t bothered at all by the slow motion to quick motion fight scenes.  I reveled in David Wenham’s portrayal of Dilios and his ability to tell the story of 300 and make us feel like he was truly standing before 10,000 Greeks getting them pumped for the battle ahead.  In fact, I was totally caught up in all of the characters.  I hated who I was supposed to hate, loved who I was supposed to love, and found myself profoundly sad for and proud of the men who gave their lives in the name of stopping tyrrany in it’s tracks.  Suddenly, as far as movies went, 2007 was looking up. 

However, we still had a long way to go.  People were buzzing over Venom, preparing for The Surfer’s rise, arguing over flames on Optimus, bemoaning the fact that John McClane was going to be PG-13, anticipating Harry’s induction into the Order of the Phoenix, and awaiting the return of Jack Sparrow.   Yes, 2007 was a long way from over.

What I’m Thankful For…

27

Nov

Posted by Steve

Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone, I’ve not posted anything in over a week, I’m trying to get back into a regular routine, and I really want to podcast.   For now, though, this will have to do.  (Hopefully, there will be a whole lot of casting going on later this evening.)

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought I would let everyone know what I’m thankful for as a geek.  So, here is my list of geek stuff that I’m thankful for:

1.  Hi-Def televisions – While I don’t have a hi-def of my own, I do enjoy mooching off of friends who get to enjoy the crystal clear goodness on a regular basis.  I’m not an old geezer or anything, but I still remember what it means to “not touch that dial.”  Our family used UHF channels.   We had an antenna sticking off or our roof for several years.  I actually do remember the launch of MTV, when Nickelodeon stopped programming at 6 in the evening, and banging on a TV because it was so fuzzy.  Now, thanks to digital cable and satellite and those flat screened little marvels of modern technology, football is clearer than it would be if you were standing on the field, movies look better in the living room than they do in the theatre, and the television can actually be a part of interior decorating.  Hopefully, by the end of 2008 I will have my own slice of Hi-Def Heaven in my living room.   But for now, I’m thankful that it exists and I have friends who let me come to their house.

2.  Transformers – I know that this is one of the more controversial (as far as geeks go) films of the 2007, but I absolutely loved it.  I sat in the theatre and nearly wept when Optimus Prime arrived on Earth to the stirring score by Steve Jablonsky.   When he told Iron Hide that freedom is right of all sentient beings, I got chills, and when he declared, “Megatron, today one shall stand; one shall fall.”  I lept off my seat and cheered.   I haven’t had that much fun at a movie since Yoda caught the Force lightning and sent it hurling back at Count Dooku after striking a kung fu pose.  Yes, I know the problems with movie (and the biggest issue is NOT flames on Optimus Prime).  I too wish that they would have reserved the name Devestator for…well…Devestator.  However, for all of the divergence from the original Generation 1 goodness, I still loved the film and I am truly thankful that we got to see it this year.

3.  Super Hero movies – All of them…except Catwoman…and maybe Steel.   Yes, including Ghost Rider and Elektra.   (Can’t believe I just said that.) I love the fact that the super hero movie has become it’s own genre of films now.  After BATMAN AND ROBIN (ugh) I thought the super hero movie was dead and gone.  I cringed as I read reports of Nicolas Cage playing Superman, I laughed to keep from crying when I watched Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four movie, and I waited and watched as Bryan Singer’s X-Men shocked the world.  Now, we can easily expect two or three super hero films in theatres every year.  And while some of them have fallen short of collective expectations or desires, it cannot be denied that it is fun to live in a time when we get to see the Hulk sling a tank across the desert, Iron Man outrun fighter jets, Superman save an airplane, Batman leap off of Gotham’s highest towers, and Spider-Man web sling his way across New York.  With projects like The Dark Knight, The Justice League, and even the sequel to Superman Returns on the horizon, not to mention all that Marvel has to offer in upcoming years, we geeks will have a lot to cheer for, complain about, and debate over, so be thankful.

4.  Next Gen Consoles –  While I think Sony took a misstep with the Playstation 3, I covet my friend’s X Box 360, and I recently (read “FINALLY”) got to play the Nintendo Wii.  While I will always hold a soft spot in my heart for Pac Man (not Pong), one can’t deny that video games have really upped the ante and aren’t just games anymore, they are indeed events and experiences.   That’s just fun, and it’s something to be thankful for.

5.  Star Wars (All SIX episodes, the original AND special editions of the Original Trilogy) – Most likely, a lot of you are like me in that you got your start in being a geek from George Lucas’ incredible vision.  I was 5 months old exactly when the Star Wars made it’s debut in theatres everywhere.  So, my earliest memory of Star Wars is lost as I only know that I grew up with it and was intimately familiar with the movie by the time I was 5.  Of course, by that time, we knew that Darth Vader was Luke’s father and we were rushing toward the climax of the saga.  I got to go see Return of the Jedi in it’s opening weekend. I don’t know how he did it, but my dad scored tickets for the whole family and my best friend at the time.   I remember walking out of the movie amazed and a little freaked out by what I saw.  I also remember a line stretching from the cinema inside the mall out the main entrance, along the side of the mall and up to the road.  Fast forward to 1997.   I was a sophomore in college and was devouring everything I could about the return of Star Wars to the big screen.   The day came, and I got money from everyone who wanted to go and bought tickets for 28 people, made sure they all had rides to the theatre, and there we were.  I loved it then, love it now.

Then in 1999, we got the first of the prequel trilogy…one day I will do a defense of the prequels, but this is not the place.  Suffice to say that I loved the Phantom Menace…I enjoyed Attack of Clones….and I was blown away by The Revenge of the Sith. 

I liked the Clone Wars cartoons and I’m anxious to see Lucasfilm’s next television offerings.  So yeah.  I’m thankful for Star Wars.  

While that’s not all that I’m thankful for as a geek, those are the big things that come to mind.    So, what are you thankful for?  What really makes your inner geek burst with happiness and gratitude?  Leave a comment or two and let me know.

And God Bless us, every one.

The Geek Life – How to Be a Geek in Public and Still Have Friends

11

Oct

Posted by Steve

Tomorrow I’m going to begin posting full reviews of Smallville episodes as we look at the third episode of the season, “Fierce.”  Then this weekend, expect the third episode of Geek Out Loud where we’ll talk about those pictures that leaked from THE DARK KNIGHT, Superman in court, Heroes, Smallville, and more.

Today, an issue close to my heart. 

All of my close friends know that I’m a geek.  I don’t try to hide it from them.  If there is a superhero movie that is coming out, all of my friends call me to ask questions about the characters.  One of the primary questions I get goes something like this, “Does this happen in the comics?”

The problem with a question like that?  If you know comics at all, you know that it is nigh impossible to do in two hours or so what a comic book has done over 30, 40 or even almost 70 years worth of publishing on a monthly basis.

Many geeks find themselves frustrated by the lack of knowledge and appreciation for all things geekdom by casual fans.   Thus is born, the stereotypical geek that is frowned upon by most of society.  You know, the guy spends every waking moment thinking about sci fi and superheroes, who never bathes, plays every RPG out there, and The truth is even other geeks look at some geeks and shake their heads at just how much of a loser the geek is.So my friends, I felt like I should step in.  I have compiled a list of tips to help the geek survive in a world of people who are either only casual fans or who barely know of the things we geeks are so passionate about.

So, if you’re a geek and you’re wondering why the only friends you have are kind of nerdy, be willing to take an honest look at yourself and begin to implement these simple tips.  Here we go:

Tip #1 – If you’re not asked, don’t tell. – The biggest mistake many geeks make is to corner people into conversations that they never asked to be a part of and know very little about.  This is a sure fire way to make people want to get away from you. 

Tip #2 – If you ARE asked, don’t tell all. – I know, I know, you want your friends to understand that Venom had his beginnings as a replacement costume for Spider-Man while Spidey and the other heroes were on Battleworld during the Secret Wars.   And I understand that you want to express to people that Wolverine wasn’t originally in the X-Men, but his first appearance came in The Incredible Hulk #181, where he was being used by the Canadian government to try to take down the Hulk.  Oh, and I’m sure you want all of your friends to know that The Silver Surfer isn’t the only herald of Galactus ever to be seen in the comics.  There’s Nova, Terrax, Firelord, and others.  But they don’t care!  If you start to go into the minutia of 30 to 50 years of history, you’re gonna lose ’em.  And again, they’re gonna want to get out of the convo.  Which is always weird, for the talker and the talkee.

Tip #3 – Diversify your wardrobe –  I love my Superman T-shirts.  I love my Star Wars T-shirts.  I love any of my clothing that pertains to my geekiness.  Guess what?  I have clothes that don’t have anything to do with a superhero, movie, or videogame.  And it’s ok.  In fact, if you wear non-geek wardrobe, when you do put on that Greatest American Hero T-shirt, your friends will smile and enjoy the nostalgic feeling they get from being around you.  If you merely rotate between Superman, Green Lantern, Flash, Spider-Man, Batman, and assorted other geek shirts, your friends are going to think that you really want to be a super hero, or that you think you’re actually a superhero.

Tip #4 – Bathe – Everyday.  When you use the shampoo, don’t be afraid to rinse and repeat.  It shouldn’t have to be said, but sadly, I’ve been around the guys who thought it was more important to get past that next level than to take a shower before heading out.

Tip #5 – If someone likes it, don’t rain on their parade – It doesn’t matter how bad you think Fantastic Four stunk, there are people who really enjoyed it.  That doesn’t make them lepers.  It makes them fans of a film.  It doesn’t matter how much you hated X-Men 3, there are people who liked it.   Don’t belittle them, scoff at them, or make it your goal in life to convince them that they are wrong.  Just express your opinion of distaste and a little bit as to why (adhering to tips 1 and 2) and leave it at that.  This way, they’ll actually think they can hang out with you at the movies again…unless you tell them that you got kicked out of the Ghost Rider screening for shouting obsenities at the screen as you hurled your drink at Nic Cage’s head.

Tip # 6 – Just because someone is wearing a Superman T-Shirt, that doesn’t make them a geek – Be careful.   Don’t assume that someone is a geek just because of a tattoo, car tag or T-shirt. I too think that someone should have to undergo a rigorous test and review before tatting up with the S-shield or putting on the shirt, but this is America and product exploitation is what we’re all about, so if their money’s good anyone can abuse a super hero symbol.  So tread carefully into conversations with potential geek posers.

Tip #7 – Don’t turn your office space into a museum – a few tasteful collectibles that you are ok with getting a little banged up is the way to go.  Don’t cause your co-workers to avoid you because you find yourself constantly yelling, “Don’t touch that!”  Also, the more collectibles you have in your office space, the more prone you make yourself to pranks from those co-workers who are bitter that “Coach didn’t put me in back in 1982.”

Tip #8 – It’s ok to be LESS of a geek than someone else – Don’t feel threatened if someone knows a little more than you do.  Instead of trying to geek up and strut your intimate knowledge of Go-Bots, just step back and let them show off.  Enjoy not being the biggest loser in the room for once.

Tip #9 – It’s not worth fighting over –   Plain and simple, if you like it, you like it.  Other’s don’t have to.  Instead of getting upset over someone having a different opinion than you, just have a good time talking about your different points of view.  Remember, we’re all in this geek thing together….except for Trekkies…you guys are losers.

On a serious note, value people more than posessions.  Toys will break, comics will tear, and movies will come and go.  Invest more in people than you do in your collection and you will enjoy true friendship.  My best friends know that I’m a geek and they even just let me geek out with them sometimes, but my hope is that they know I think they’re more important than my Master Replicas Force F/X Lightsaber.  Well, maybe JUST AS important…