How do you define “literature”?

I had a difficult time coming up with a title for this article. “Bill Maher is a Tool” and “Irrelevant TV host Seeks Attention” seemed too aggressive.

Around the time of Stan Lee’s death Bill Maher made some disparaging remarks about the mans contributions to literary entertainment and popular culture. Recently he doubled down and attacked the people who buy and read comic books, and enjoy the movies they are based on. Stating that comic books were not literature and the people who enjoyed them were eternal children who refused to grow up.

Continue reading “How do you define “literature”?”

Spider-Man : Into the Spider-Verse

I really enjoyed the two Toby Maguire movies (I like to pretend the third was a bad dream I had), disliked the first Andrew Garfield film so much I never bothered to watch the second and loved all three of Tom Holland’s outings as the infamous wallcrawler. I loved Spider-Man: Homecoming so much I told anyone who would listen it was my favorite Spider-Man movie… until I saw Into the Spider-Verse last week. Continue reading “Spider-Man : Into the Spider-Verse”

got a subscription to Marvel Unlimited

Netflix for comic books! Geek heaven!

I love comic books. I started collecting them when I was in grade 8, about a thousand years ago, but stopped when Marvel turned Illyana Rasputin back into a child, also the price of the books I was buying had more than doubled from when I started.

Several years ago Marvel comics started a subscription service where you could pay a monthly fee to have access to all the comics they had digitized. It was an interesting deal, but I don’t like reading books, even comic books, on a PC monitor. Continue reading “got a subscription to Marvel Unlimited”

Watched Arrow

When I heard the CW was doing a Green Arrow series, but that it would not be a Smallville spinoff with Justin Hartley, I wasn’t sure what I thought about it. Smallville itself was pretty, uh, uneven the last couple seasons, but I liked Hartleys take on Green Arrow. I let the first three isodes of Arrow accumulate in the PVR, then watched them all last night. I will definitely be tuning in to the rest of the season.

The series is much darker and far more adult than Smallville was. It kind of reminds me of the difference in tone between Angel and Buffy, although, that may not be entirely fair, as Angel was true spinoff, and Arrow is an entirely new take on the Green Arrow character.

I don’t know how much of the character has been changed from the comic book, I was always more of a Marvel fan and have only been reading DC since their New 52 reboot. This Oliver Queens personality seem fairly different from the one on paper, but I actually prefer this one.

So the premise is this. Oliver Queen is kinda like a male Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian. He’s on a yacht with his Dad, a bunch of servants and crew, plus his girlfriends sister (bad Oliver!). They hit bad weather, the yacht sinks, the only people to make it to a life raft are Oliver, his Dad and a guy with no lines who may or may not have been wearing a red shirt. As they are starving and dehydrating, Queen senior confess to his son that he isn’t the man he’s been pretending to be. His father and a bunch of other high profile people were bad people and did bad things (kind of reminds me of the Court of Owls storyline that recently ran in Batman) and he wants Oliver to survive, and try to right the wrongs he’s done. Mr. Queen then shoots the expendable crew member and himself. Five years later, Oliver makes it off the island with a little black book, containing the names of people he want’s to meet when he gets home, and some mad parcour skills.

So far I like this show for several reasons. First the writing is pretty tight. The dialog, characters and plots all work well. Second, the action is great, well choreographed and highly believeable. Best of all, they are doing mystery better than any show I’ve seen in a long time. We don’t know what happened to Oliver on that island, there are a LOT of secrets to uncover and unlike Fringe, Lost, Alias (notice a pattern here?) or the X-Files, I believe the people behind this show really have a grip on the backstory and that it will make sense. I could be wrong, but this is the feeling I get when watching Arrow.

 

Played The Walking Dead Episodes 3 and 4

An episodic horror adventure that’s really more of an interactive story than it is a video game, and that’s a good thing.

I was a big fan of the graphic adventure games of the 80’s and 90’s. I must have played every Quest game Sierra Online ever produced and have always been kind of sad that the genre died out. Part of the attraction was the puzzles to be figured out, but most what was fun in those games were the stories and humor. Telltale Games The Walking Dead brings new life to the adventure game, and puts more of an emphasis on story and character than on the point and click gameplay.

Fans of Robert Kirkmans graphic novels and the TV show on HBO don’t need to worry about seeing the same story retold in a new medium. The game takes place in the same world, but features all new characters with their own stories. I won’t give too much away, but one of the things I really liked was that instead of making the protagonist a clone of Rick Grimes, he’s almost his complete opposite. Rick was a Sheriff, while Lee Everett is a convicted murderer on his way to prison when the Zombie outbreak occurs.

The look and feel of the game is fairly unique. It’s done in a 3D cell shading style that borrows heavily from the graphic novel, and instead of the static camera point of view that is most common to these games, much of the story is presented in a handheld “shaky cam” style often used in dramas today. Combined with changing camera edits, you really get the feeling of directing a story, not playing it. You decide how to respond to people’s questions, how to distribute food when low on rations, and who lives or dies when the walkers are swarming your group of survivors. The game is delivered in an episodic format (except the iOS version apparently), each ending with a cliff hanger, much like both the comic book and show do. 5 episodes are planned for season 1.

I love this game, it gets my heart pounding like few games do, and has only a couple of negative points, which aren’t big enough to stop me from recommending it to everyone I know. The first is the controls. They are a little finicky. You have to have your cursor on exactly the right spot to work, and I got stuck at one point in episode three where I knew what I neede to do, but just could not figure out how to make the controls do what was required. I re-played the same scene about 10 times before getting it to work, which was frustrating, but fortunately one of the few times it was that difficult to play.

My second complaint about the game is more of a disappointment. One of the key features advertised was that the story of the game would change based on the decisions and choices you make. It even says it right at the start of each episode, “This game series adapts to the choices you make. The story is tailored by how you play.” Which sounds AWESOME! Except it is misleading. Dialog changes, and people’s attitude towards you changes, but the story will always unfold in the same way, no matter whos side you choose in an argument, or what you say to anyone. Even when you choose to save character and another dies, it ultimately doesn’t matter as they both play the same role in subsequent episodes. So the re-play value was nowhere near as high as I thought it would be. What is cool about it is that at the end of the each episode the game shows how your choices compared to those of others who played the game, and when each new episode starts, the “Previously on The Walking Dead” clips reflect your decisions.

Overall, it’s one of the best games I’ve played in a while, simply because of the emotional impact the story and characters deliver. I can’t wait for the climax in episode 5.

 

Saw Dredd

Jurys. Executioners. Judges. Real actors aren’t afraid to leave their masks on.

I liked this movie a lot and will definitely add it to my collection when it is released on Blu-ray. I have never read the comic book, but the movie has inspired me (unlike the Stalone version) to see if there any tpb or graphic novels I can get my hands on, since the disappointing box office showing makes it sound like there will not be a sequel.

The movie plays like an 80s cop movie in the vein of Lethal Weapon or 48 Hours, just set in a dystopian future. It starts with a crime to solve and ends with a hail of bullets and explosions. The pacing is great. Not once in the movies hour and a half did I feel like it dragged or felt the need to look at my watch. I also appreciated that the writer and director went with a “show don’t tell” approach to the story, letting the audience figure things out for themselves and keeping exposition scenes to a minimum.

The violence is graphic and brutal, some of it taking place in slow motion. Now, I watched Suckerpunch a couple of months ago, and the over use of slow motion was one of the many things I did not like about the movie. In Dredd the slow motion is a) used sparingly and b) punctuates the violence. It also has a purpose in the movie itself. Bullet time in the Matrix movies showed points where the characters were able to get their minds working fast to overcome the artificial constraits of the simulated world they inhabited. In every movie since, the directors used it just ‘cuz it looked cool. In Dredd the slow motion is used when someone is under the influence of a drug called Slo-mo.

What really stands out for me though is the acting. It is a rare actor who will allow themselves to have their face hidden, or intentionally made ugly for an entire movie. Here we had two. Karl Urban is able to project emotion and presence with 3/4 of his face hidden and Lena Headey’s beauty is completely submerged in the scared drug addict she portrays. I’m not sure people realize how hard it is for an actor to perform when their face is hidden, it’s why you’ll see less capable actors like Stalone or Andrew Garfield keep taking their helmets and masks off, but the more skilled performers like Urban and Tom Hardy will see it as a challenge. I mentioned this to my brother, and he likened it to Kane Hodder as Jason in the Friday the 13th movies. Jason has been played by several different actors, but people always seem to remember Kane’s portrayal best, as he is able to convey a sense of menace, danger, even evil, all without saying a word or even being able to see his face.

Like I said at the top, I loved this movie and only wish more people had gone to see it, just so that I could selfishly get to see sequels.