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Tag Archive | Kick Ass

Review: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

This marks the first time I’ve ever watched a sequel without seeing the original first. Still have no interest in seeing the first entry. A part of me feels tricked into thinking this entry was theatre worthy either.

Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance posterA mad genius exists out there cutting exceptional movie trailers turning garbage films into inspirational gold. He must be stopped! Otherwise, we will continue to waste $13 a pop for 3D tickets to crap like Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.

Wait, it wasn’t all that bad.

In fact, parts of it were downright good and even a bit unsettling. So here’s a quick, down and dirty review of the film…because how much time do we really want to waste on a Ghost Rider sequel review? Not much time.

THE GOOD

Idris Elba. This man is a god (literally, in Thor) and he is guaranteed to save your crappy movie, or at least be the best part of it. He even steals his smallish scenes in Thor (muh favorite). Not quite sure why he was boasting colored contacts. It looked cool when he was playing Heimdahl, but went with his outfit and godly persona in that flick. Here it was obvious some studio exec was like “Idris Elba in contacts makes this movie THAT MUCH COOLER. Do it.” Elba was sporting an off-putting and unnecessary French accent, but aside from that – he was the best actor and second most fun to watch on the screen.

The special effects were the most fun thing to watch on-screen. The Ghost Rider himself is a special effect and a gorgeous one at that, with flames curling around his skull head and any vehicle he chooses to mount bursting into hellish fire. His antics are creepy, twitchy and a bit scary. The vibe for The Rider was PERFECT and clearly a lot of time and energy went into making him look cool. The action sequence were entertaining, especially the mid-point of the movie, in the rock quarry.

The audience was treated to tasty and attractive animated sequences as a narrative device. I’m always up for animated sequences in otherwise live action films. Especially comic book adaptations. Thanks production teams!

THE BAD

Nicholas Cage and his bizarre acting abilities. Loved him in Kick Ass and think he has a dry, oddball sense of humor but it was the wrong tone for this type of movie. What he emoted and what the director envisioned did not mesh well together on-screen and the effect was a mushy pile of loosely connected action sequence, while any attempt at plot was jarring on the audience. Not that anyone expected this to be Oscar worthy material, but it was a discordant mess not even on par with most Hollywood messes. An enjoyable mess, mind you. Entertaining.

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“X-Men: First Class” Fever

**LEAKED SCENE**

I normally don’t go in for this kind of crap, but I’m anxious about this movie being good and redeeming the franchise. Here’s a leaked clip on YouTube. Watch it before it’s pulled:

 

It’s happening again – Fox has control of one of my favorite properties and is teasing me with a potentially good film. Literally – teasing. Dropping intriguing character vignettes YouTube videos and releasing 40 still images in the last week.

Glad to see the black leather is not making a come-back.

I KNOW I should have learned my lessons by now. But I actually liked Matthew Vaughn’s Kick Ass and the writing team looks pretty solid – Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz and Jane Goldman have all proven themselves on movies and TV shows which have plenty of nerd credentials.

Also – the lineup of qualified and talented actors and actresses further serves to muddle my usually quite rational thinking when going into a film like this. Yes, the continuity continues to be further eroded and fucked up. Yes, it makes no sense that Emma Frost has now appeared in two films completely out of a rational timeline (maybe all will be explained?). I’ve no hope of ever seeing my favorite characters interact on-screen in a normal way. Ahem, that would be Rogue and Gambit. I’m a child of the 90s animated cartoon series, so there’s no changing my mind. The best thing is just to accept that I love these two characters together and walk away.

Against my better judgement: I do think “X-Men: First Class” has the potential to be good. And potential potential is VERY exciting.

When it gets right down to it – X-Men are my favorite superhero group. I’ll support them no matter what shitty-ass movie or cartoon series or spin-off is being made. I’ll give them more of my time and energy than I would donate to any other Marvel, DC, Dark Horse property. It’s an abusive relationship, and I’ll keep coming back for more until they close up shop.

Here are the aforementioned character introduction trailers to entice you:

MEET BANSHEE

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Bonus Post: NEW X-Men First Class Cast Members

Brand spankin’ new cast members have been added to the  roster of the X-Men: First Class flick directed by Matthew Vaughn. And then there’s some folks who’ve been rumored as well.

Mostly it’s dudes. Act surprised though, they like that!

Caleb Landry Jones has been cast as Banshee. Honestly, not that tough to cast this character. Find a ginger with freckles that can speak in a semi-decent Irish accent. Chances of him actually speaking in an accent? Zero to none. But he’s so damned cute!

Nicholas Hoult is cast as Beast. Apparently he’s the kid from About A Boy, which means that he’s either grown up super fast or I’ve gotten ridiculously older than I have any right to be. I’m sure he’ll be fine, but he comes from a string of Europeans attached to this project. Hmph.

Aaron Johnson is rumored to be playing Cylops. He’s the Kick-Ass kid. His voice is just a wee bit too whiney for my taste, Cyclops has already been portrayed as a wussy leader type before. I saw Mr. Johnson as a spectacular Spiderman stand-in. His slim frame seems more suitable for cracking-wise and scaling buildings in tight clothes than leading the merry band of mutants. I’m hoping this particular rumor stays a rumor.

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Hit Girl Cosplay for San Diego Comic Con 2010

After much debate with my fellow nerd friend – Smalls – we determined that Cosplay (or costume play or “dress up in costume”) for the 2010 San Diego Comic Convention International was out of the question for us. We didn’t want to bother with packing the costuming in our luggage, wrangling with it at the convention and suffering the heat/utter exhaustion of having pictures taken all day or whatever other hell is endured by cosplayers at conventions. I’ve never dressed up before, and feel like at the ripe old age of 27 – it might be far too late. 

Smalls agreed to the majority of these things and we made a verbal pact not to dress up. 

All that changed over drinks (and a second viewing of Kick-Ass) this last Saturday night, and it looks like we will now both be donning some manner of costume at least one day of our Comic Con experience. Erin decided on a Merlotte’s Bar and Grill T-Shirt, black shorts and shoes – the essential Sookie Stackhouse waitress outfit. 

Hey Smalls, the green apron and ponytail really complete the look.

Of course she only divulged this to me after I announced that I intend to put together a Hit Girl costume – most likely the movie version. I know, it’s 1/10 shame mixed with 9/10’s glee. I’ve declared quite openly that Hit Girl/Mindy McCready is my comic book doppelganger. We share the same name! It is fate! Now, how to go about adapting a costume designed for an 11-year-old, into something that can be easily pulled off by a 27-year-old who weighs twice as much and is at least 8 inches taller. Hmph. 

I figure the two most important ingredients to getting this costume right is the Purple Bob Wig which you can find on EBay if you search “purple cosplay bob wig” or check out this shop owners merchandise

 

And the Black Bandit Mask: 

 

Otherwise – who is going to recognize Hit Girl in the throng of thousands of other costumes? 

Another looming and quite costly element is the leather…there is so much purple leather. I’m not adept at sewing, or interested in paying anyone $$$ to sew an entire leather costume NOR am I compelled to spend a July day in Southern California tramping around in a full suit. The best option is to piece meal it together. I love the look of the upper body – and *wish* I was willing to fork out $80 for a bullet-proof vest

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A Response to Roger Ebert’s Review of “Kick-Ass”

Yesterday I stumbled upon an article on the snarky-feminist-lite website Jezebel which reviewed and offered up some interesting questions about children, women, violence and vulgarity which the film Kick-Ass brings up for many people.

The article itself, as well as several commenters in the discussion were quoting Roger Ebert’s review of the movie. I’ll preface this by saying – I’m not an Ebert fan. It’s not that I hate the man – I just don’t have any particular fondness for his reviews. I don’t follow him on Twitter and I don’t read his shit, excuse me “body of work.” As a kid, I can remember being greatly irritated by he and Gene Siskel’s panning of what I considered to be some of the best movies (Free Willy, My Girl – hey, I was 12!) and as a teen and adult never turned to him for movie advice.

Mostly because I was writing my own film reviews for our HS Newspaper, and I trusted local sources like The Oregonian and Willamette Week to dispense engaging film advice.

My bias is not HUGE towards Ebert – but, as I mentioned before, I have never used his reviews as the basis of what movies I watched. I know that many people do, or at least people tune in to his opinion because it strikes their fancy. Great – awesome – wonderful even! Don’t think I’m dissuading you at all. But just because he has an opinion, doesn’t mean he’s immune from criticism. He’s a professional critic afterall, it comes with the territory.

His review of Kick-Ass in particular seemed inept. He states pretty early on that he has no stomach for comic book violence, and has an entirely opposite viewpoint from those who do see it as entertainment or social commentary.

His review is virtually useless for this film – because he can also not understand the context or recognize even the whimsical nods, comic book cameos or references being bandied about. He’s out of his league, and though he mentions briefly that he finds all the elements of this film distasteful – he still plunges ahead and shreds it apart with vehemence anyway.

There is little focus on the story-telling, the character development or any other aspects of the film which are worth looking at. When a film is derived so copiously from source material – isn’t it worth at the very least, skimming through? Especially since it takes 30 minutes to read from cover to cover, not exactly a herculean feat.

Comments on the Jezebel article indicated that Ebert SHOULD NOT have to read the comic book to review the film. OK – yes, a movie can stand on its own two legs, but understanding that it comes from a comic book, and that it’s made mostly for comic fangirls and boys as parody or satire of the medium, should at least shape the context and allow the film to be taken with a smirking grain of salt (as it was during the screening I watched). No one in the audience seemed to gasp or choke or cry out when the bad guys got their asses handed to them. It was a room full of adults who can distinguish between real violence and comic book/movie violence. Even Chloe Moretz knows that shit.

Unfortunately – Ebert is quite wrapped up in Hit Girl being the cause and victim of Violence (with a capital V). He bemoans the scene where she is tossed around by the villain “to within inches of her life.” My gawd man – she is a superhero! Superheroes get their asses kicked, just as much as they kick ass. She wouldn’t be awesome if she weren’t at least somewhat vulnerable to physical violence. In fact, that would make her ridiculously unreal, and therefore imminently less cool.

I admit to a small glimmer of discomfort while watching Hit Girl being beaten by the villain, but most of what I remember is feeling overwhelming appreciation that the camera was not shying away. Obscuring her beating by the villain – would be sensationalizing it. As it stands – Hit Girl was treated with the same respect offered Kick Ass earlier in the film. The camera stayed – not lingering provocatively or pulling away to some shadow effect in horror while the audience is left to imagine what kind of atrocities are being committed.

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Kick-Ass? Yes, It Does.

Thanks to the ultra cool Hisham, we were able to score tickets to a 7:00pm screening of Kick-Ass last night at the Lloyd Center cinemas. We ended up with pretty decent seats, and Dan Robertson spotted one of comic-doms most famous of scribes – Brian Michael Bendis, who was kind enough to snap a photo before he entered the theatre. 

Dan Robertson and Brian Michael Bendis

 Just another one of those awesome perks of living in Portland, Oregon. It also helped that Bendis tweeted he was attending the screening. Which means we kind of Twitter stalked him. But that’s ok, right? Right? 

*NO SPOILERS AHEAD* 

I’ll avoid revealing secrets or twists, anything else you’ve already seen in the trailers.  

THE STORY 

The premise of the Kick-Ass plot is that nerdy, comic-book loving High School  dude Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) decides to dress in a costume and become a superhero, Kick-Ass

He has a few mis-steps along the way, including being stabbed in the stomach and hit by a car. This causes the insertion of metal plates around key areas of his body, which give him a higher pain tolerance and protects him from the several beatings he receives throughout the story. 

While the bulk of the movie and novel belong to Dave Lizewski/Kick-Ass (he gets the voice-over) of equal importance are the bits featuring Hit Girl and Big Daddy. In the book they are introduced as real-deal vigilante superheroes, and then are revealed to be less so by the conclusion. 

The movie kept with the authenticity of their origin story and imbued them with much more dignity and chemistry. Mark Millar’s version of Big Daddy was entirely unsympathetic. But with the help of the director Matthew Vaughn, Nicholas Cage managed to pull off a quirky character and layer him with emotion and motivation, something notably lacking in the Big Daddy on page. This was the first role I’ve seen him in, in a long freaking time, where he didn’t annoy the crap out of me. Yay him. 

On screen, Hit Girl became a multi-dimensional person who loves her father, and puts up with his superhero training antics because of this love – rather than a personal desire to kill and maim. Though she’s REALLY REALLY good at it. The best action sequences in this film belong to her. 

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Floating World Comics Event Recap

Skipping yoga last night was totally worth going to this event. I was doing some research for an entirely different story (on Brian Michael Bendis teaching at PSU) and happened upon an internet flyer promoting a ‘gallery display’ of original sketches by Joelle  Jones at a comic book store downtown. This is in conjunction with the PDX First Thursday that happens in the Pearl District every month. 

The news piece on the Floating World Comics website didn’t necessarily say that Joelle herself would be there –  it only stated Matt Wagner (Grendel scribe) would be there signing copies of the Madame Xanadu issues which Joelle inked. It seemed like a cool opportunity to check out some of Joelle’s sketches AND pick up a few books that came out on Wednesday. Two birds, one stone. 

The inside of Floating World Comics - check out Joelle's artwork up on the far wall.

Imagine my surprise when we finally arrive and not only is Joelle there, but so is Jaime S. Rich, writer of 12 Reasons Why I Love Her and You Have Killed Me fame. Joelle was seated at the signing table, but Jaime was loitering around talking to other Oni Press staff and folks who’d come to the signing. Crazy! 

I was super shy about going up and speaking with them, but I was totally enamored by the art up on the walls, and the opportunity to have them sign their work. I plucked up a copy of “You Have” and called Dan over to check it out. He seemed taken by the noir elements and agreed that we should get the book for them to sign. 

Still feeling gawky about approaching them, I held the book and started browsing again. Insanely enough – Jaime S. Rich approached me and started up some conversation – and he was totally cool. I let him know that I was a big fan of his work, and had just checked out the 22 page preview of Spell Checkers which is being released in April. 

  

Inside scoop: He told me they are planning to unveil it at the spring Chicago Comic Con the week of April 16th, and that it should be available in stores on the following Wednesday. Right now they are doing the final edits and he spoke a bit about that process. 

Jaime S. Rich (left), Joelle Jones (right). Me in the middle looking elated/barfy with joy.

The Oni Press website says it will be available on 4/14/2010 – but I suppose that date might change according to when the book actually gets to press. 

After that I was able to get both Joelle and Jaime to sign the book and snap a pic with them. So, one of my goals of the San Diego Comic Con is accomplished before I even get there! 

Other cool news – they WILL be at the Stumptown Comics Fest which I’ve signed up to volunteer at, and that’s where I can pick up Spell Checkers and have them sign another book. Woot! 

Here we are making the exchange.

Another super awesome comic book fan showed up to the event as well. Our friend Hisham, who writes a comic book review blog here stopped by and we got the opportunity to chat about all things nerdy. He happened to have a copy of Kick-Ass in his car (fresh from his review/early screening) and let me borrow it, so I didn’t have to drop another $20. 

Overall, a completely and overwhelmingly successful evening in which I got to meet two of my favorite local comic book artists AND ended up with a stack of awesome material to read. 

On the docket for review is: 

1. Girl Comics #1 

2. Stumptown #1 

3. Kick-Ass issues 1-8 (the movie adaptation issues) 

Not to mention a stack came through from the library – and hopefully I’ll be getting books 6-8 of Ex Machina this weekend and writing up my thoughts on that. 

But the true success of last night is now plastered on the inside cover of my brand new book. 

 

Totally worth skipping yoga for. 😉

Books To Get Excited About

I started reviewing Marvel’s line-up for February and March in an effort to rekindle my love for X-Books and the Marvel brand as a whole. Wasn’t expecting much in the way of titles I would actually pick up, especially after scanning through their releases for this week and the rest of March. Dismal, dismal stuff – most of the X-Titles. However, a few of them sparked interest, as well as some other material I never knew existed. Kudos to Marvel for winning me back as a reader. For now.

It’s unfortunate that the X-Factor synopsis for the next few books looks absolutely painful. Not sure I’m going to be able to get back into this book with the fervor I had reserved for the first 25 issues of it’s latest reincarnation. While I love Peter David…Dr. Doom is completely un-interesting to me. *tears*

This isn’t the sum total of the books I’m considering getting back into (or picking up for the first time), but the other publishers are going to have to hold off for a bit. I’ll check in with Oni Press and Dark Horse later this week and give a run-down of what looks interesting there.

Girl Comics #1

X-Men Origins: Nightcrawler

X-Men: Hope

X-Men: Second Coming

Nomad: Girl Without a World

– Phoenix Saga #1 (the Marvel page link appears to be broken, it’s a prequel to X-Men: Second Coming)

Kick Ass TPB (collecting issues #1-8)

What are you all reading and/or looking forward to?