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Monday, 5 May 2014

The case of Captain Avengers: The Hydra Soldier

Continuity. Plain and simple, the Marvel movies team is having to juggle a whole lot of apples at the same time, with all the solo movies released before the next Avengers extravaganza, they need to keep everything in check. In the second instalment of the Captain America series, they managed to maintain that continuity by simply…ignoring the other movies. So in the case of Iron Man 3 and Thor 2: The dark world, none of that shit even phased Nick Fury, Cap or Romanoff. Hell, the Mandarin was a joke, a newly super-powered Pepper is irrelevant, the fact that Thor came back from Asgard to earth, left, returned, then started playing Portal in London, all the while trying to save the world from destruction, didn’t even register in Fury’s to-do-list. Then again, the Avengers have Captain America, not Captain European Union, so fuck London and all those limeys… wait, wasn’t that albino elf going to destroy the multiverse?? Whatever, as long as it’s not New York, Washington or Los Angeles, we couldn’t care less.

I will not post the spoiler alert here, since the story is so predictable, only a coma patient will find it intriguing or even suspenseful. The main character is Captain Goody-Two-Shoes, so no one gets killed on his watch – with a rating of 12A, some people do actually buy it in this movie, but who cares anyway, thousands died in Superman and the Avengers and nobody gave a crap. Captain USA – YES, this should be his name, if you insist on calling him Captain America, then Brazil, Peru, Nicaragua, Canada and the entire continent should be his domain of protection! - is a chemically enhanced super soldier with regenerative abilities. But not instant regeneration, we wouldn’t want the audience to confuse him with Wolverine or Deadpool… This will be tested to the limit in some scenes (that includes getting shot 3 times, stabbed, bitch-slapped and keep on fighting after all that punishment).But let’s not forget, Captain America is nothing without his shield. Or is he?

 A random French guy will try to find that out and have his ass handed to him in the process. Seriously, it’s like asking Batman to take off his armour and bring it on. How dense can you be to even consider that? Apparently common sense is not a major factor in this movie, since there are numerous points where I went “WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK ARE YOU THINKING?” and not to the actors/characters, but to the script writers. I understand that this is a comic-book based movie, the viewers have signed an invisible pact with the actors/directors/screenwriters, that we will allow for some suspense of disbelief, when watching this type of movies. Fine, I agree to that wholeheartedly, I have done so and will continue to do so for every comic book/sci-fi/fantasy movie I will ever see.

However, there is no motherfucking way in any motherfucking universe that would motherfucking explain how motherfucker Nick Fury motherfucking survived!

The overall feeling I received from this film was that Marvel was not 100% concentrated on this project, it felt like something that tried to become something bigger, but eventually was left unfinished, unbalanced and somehow…cheated out of its potential. I mean you have Robert Redford in a movie trying to justify the NSAs role of Global Big Brother, trying to add some gravity and credibility to this mockery of a global domination plan (Dr. Evil would have come up with a better plan), only to have him kill a maid in cold blood and die with one of the most stupid deaths in villain history. If the producers intended to make a strong point about global surveillance, privacy limits, automated and self-authorised drone strikes, the limits of personal liberty and social stability and the effects of overpopulation in a finite resources system, maybe they should have come up with something better than the half-ass idea of 3 flying carriers and a semi-PreCog algorithm created by an ex-Nazi scientist, who managed to transfer his personality in a digital carrier network (that one idea alone is worth a whole movie, but hey…we got bigger fish to fry).

I tried to watch this film as much possible as I could as a distanced, standalone film, not in connection with the Avengers or the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV-show. That was not possible and in fact, was not the intention of its creators. This was clearly a herald to the new Avengers movie. In that sense it serves this purpose quite adequately, but as a second instalment in the Captain America storyline – most likely now a trilogy by the looks of things – it fails miserably. Hey, at least they managed to keep the torso-to-head ratio of Captain Steroids within plausible limits, unlike the first movie.

Next one on the list is the new Amazing Spiderman instalment, hopefully I will write about it before the leaves turn yellow... Until then I'll be watching you.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Balls of Steel

I could not help myself there...

Absolute power corrupts, absolutely.
This is the first thing I am contemplating whenever I have to deal with the case of Superman, for it is a case of absolutes. The first hero in comic books that was absolutely indestructible, all powerful, immortal, essentially he was a sort of deity personified in human form – with the most ridiculous disguise in the history of disguises…

Superman was created a few years before the beginning of WWII and he was the product of a – now legendary - pair of comic book artists, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. The inspiration behind this “Übermensch“, as this is the German translation for “Superman” used by Friedrich Nietzsche, is not exactly defined, with some traces of biblical heroes like Samson, Goliath and also traces of Jesus Christ in its origins. What proved to be more important than his origin, was the influence of Superman to the USA and the American psyche. 

In 1939 the American public was not eager to participate in another bloodbath 5000 miles away from their doorstep and even when it got involved eventually, it would not accept it that easily. Superman – alongside with Batman – provided the public with new icons to identify themselves with. I find it quite plausible that some GI’s would have adopted Superman as their projection in the battlefield, a sort of “good luck charm”, a mental image of invulnerability and complete control of any situation, be that a fire-fight in Micronesia or the first wave on D-day . Superman was the embodiment of absolute power. Naturally their creators provided their “golem” with a kind heart and not an evil  mind and will. For who could ever stop Superman, if he was a villain instead of a hero?

This is my main concern about this character – and by proxy, about all the comic book characters with godlike powers (Wolverine, Phoenix, Xavier, Lobo, Thor, Hulk, etc.). On this most helpful picture we can see the moral alignment of some of the most known comic book, movie, TV series and literature characters according to the character specs of AD&D.

See where Superman is, right on the Lawful Good position, which can easily be identified as the Paladin class alignment – the most dull, unimaginative and predictable class of them all…

Superman CAN NOT be anything else, even in the story lines were he turned slightly evil – him or some other part of his Super family (Superboy) - in the end he was not stopped by his only known vulnerability, Kryptonite, rather than HIMSELF!! He’s the only person that can control all this immense power. And having being used by the American government as the role model and icon for all that America stood for in the 80’s, that boy scout in the red slip clearly had some issues to resolve if we wanted to make a comeback in the 2010’s…

This is the most important aspect in the latest cinematic version of Kal-El, Man of Steel. The so called "Man of Steel" is in fact a man of doubt. He doubts everything, from his own powers to the reasons for using them, even the point of using them FOR the American people. He is not the clear-cut, single-minded and resolute Paladin of Coca Cola and apple pie. How could he be anyway - he is the first Superman WITHOUT the super-curl on his forehead. 
In the last decade the US are not exactly a beacon of freedom, humanity, tolerance, progress and - most importantly - peace. But they're trying Ringo, they're trying reaaaal hard to become that again... And one can see that in MoS, in Clark's decision to take that "leap of faith" and trust the humans, above all trust the Americans. In one of the most ironic lines of the film Kal-El states:

 -I grew up in Kansas general, how much more American can I be? 

(H. Cavill was born in the Channel Islands. Just goes to show that UK and European actors are slowly taking over Hollywood - Dr. House was British, half of The Walking Dead's cast are limeys, True Blood is from all over the Commonwealth, not to mention the ENTIRE cast of GoT are Irish). 

Monday, 29 April 2013

Iron Man 3 review: Why I hate Michael Bay

A guy with his dog walk in a park, time is late afternoon, location is random urban environment. The guy stops, goes for the dog’s collar and unlocks the line. The dog jumps and breaks into a run…. Then they both EXPLODE in a huge fireball, engulfing everything in its path, causing secondary explosions of nearby trees, rocks, benches and culminating to the spectacular Überblast of the park’s pond.

This image is a pretty accurate summary of most Michael Bay films. The dogma here is: “Dissilio, ergo sum”. Nothing is more important than the non-stop attack of the viewer’s senses with images and sounds cranked up to 11. Realism, continuity, acting, even chemistry and physics are out of the window. And sometimes this works, unfortunately most of the times it’s just a waste of money and an excellent reason for some serious comedy.

You may now ponder upon the question “Dafuq has Michael Bay to do with Iron Man 3?” Allow me to elaborate.

Iron Man 3 is a hybrid film, one part action comedy and one part Transformers 2, the bad parts of that movie – hence the Baysplosions title for this entry. For the first half of the film we see Starks struggle with the events that took place in the Avengers encounter. He appears anything but “super”, has frequent panic attacks and is disassociated from everyone around him. Then suddenly, for no apparent reason, he challenges the Mandarin just to get in on the action – War machine…ehm, apologies AMERICAN PATRIOT, was having exclusivity on the guy – and ends up in the bottom of the sea with his Thunderbird mansion on top of him.
Still, could be worse... It does get worse. Witness the first AI that …falls asleep!!! After that we get to see Tony Stark become MacGyver and 007 in an attempt to rescue Pepper and the president of the US – who used to be an international terrorist until he got “yippee kiyay-ed motherfucker”. After that things go downhill really fast. Mercifully before we hurdle ourselves to the mindless roller coaster of CGI chaos that will ensue soon after, Sir Ben Kingsley speaks! And everyone in the theatre just lost it!! We could not stop laughing, it was EPIC, a most unexpected performance from such an actor and it’s a genuine show stopper.

For the second part of the movie –or the last part, say last 35 minutes – Shane Black goes all Bay on this one and directs his own version of Transformers, courtesy of the 40+ suits Tony has built in his spare time. What a strange coincidence then that the Mandarin has created a shitload of supercharged minions using his highly experimental, unstable and potentially explosive gene manipulation treatment. Yeah right… (Come to think of it, why didn’t Stark called in on one of his suits earlier on, when he was captured in the Mandarins villa…even more, why didn’t he send a suit to save Pepper from the Mandarin since the suits are encoded for her as well!) Also, this thing with the “human bomb” factor, where have I seen that before…where
And in this mayhem of a finale EVERYTHING explodes – with the biggest and dumbest explosion that of a container falling on the peer and creating a fireball the size of a football field! [I know that the whole peer was covered with oil barrels but come on people, get real!!! Shit just doesn’t blow up like that!]

This is the closing part of a trilogy – or so it would appear, RDJ claiming that he will not put on the MK48 suit – that has left us with both positive and negative memories. The main thing, however, that we gained from the Iron Man movies is a new type of super hero, the “IDGAF-knowitall-spoiled-brat-genius-philanthropist-playboy-I’m-only-human” hero with a razor-sharp humour and even quicker comebacks than Robin Williams on his good day. Iron Man is Marvel’s answer to DCs best detective in the world in a black spandex. Just like Batman in the “Dark Knight” trilogy, Tony Stark is a mere mortal without any superhuman powers, who uses his wits and billions of dollars to become a super hero. The only difference here, RDJ is born for this role, Christian Bale is trying to fill the shoes of the Batman, but somehow falls short of the expectations we have from such an iconic character. The Iron Man trilogy is a one man show thanks to the captivating performance of RDJ, this third part being a true tour-de-force from a great actor that acts not a scripted character, but his real life. At least his life while on drugs and alcohol..

The movie opened to a whooping 193M international box office weekend, equalling the Avengers opening and making a firm statement: Comic book movies are the current blockbusters, forget cop/thriller/action films. Even sci-fi films have to up their game if they want to reclaim their throne of ultimate blockbuster.

Waiting for this one now, will see it with sunglasses though if J.J. Abrams insists on using SO MUCH GODDAMN LENSE FLARE!!!!!

Monday, 24 December 2012

The Hobbit - A semi-unexpected experience

 Have you ever met with an old friend after many years, went out and
had a great time reminiscing about the good old days, while also
making plans for the future, making sure that it won't be another 10
years until you meet again.

This is how I felt yesterday (last week by now) revisiting Tolkien's Middle Earth in
Peter Jackson's "The hobbit", the old characters being now an integral
part of my life.

For those of you who have lived in a whole in the ground (see what I
did there) for the last 70 years, the Hobbit is the predecessor of the
LOTR trilogy. It's the story of how Bilbo met Gandalf, 13
dwarfs (with names as funny as equally easily forgettable) and how he
travelled to the east seeking Eremor. I will not go into further
details about the plot, read the book people!! Interestingly enough,
the book by itself does not provide enough material for 3 movies.
Especially for 3 three-hour long films. Jackson found a truly genius
way to get around that, he added bits and pieces from Tolkien's "The
Silmarilion" - the official how-it-all-begun bible of Middle Earth.
That is truly inspired and will have all Tolkienians drooling over
mentions of Ungoliath, Morgoth and Ballrogs. What's not so inspired is
the arbitrary expansion of screen time for characters from the book
that never had more than 2 lines of mention. I know this will not
affect the uninitiated at all, they may even find great, the fact that
we get to enjoy more of Radagast the Brown, but for me
and probably for all the hard-core fans of the book, it is equally
damaging and offending as having Elves in the battle of Helms Deep.

Speaking of pointy ears, the elves in this film have a small part,
mainly that of gay vegetarian musicians - Moby?! - that are so far up
their own asses, they could not be bothered to slay a few thousands of
Orcs and help the few thousands of dwarfs  to reclaim their ancestral
home. But what the fuck...they are elves, their robes are so pristine
and ironed, one would expect to see them on a fashion show, not in

The movie resembles the first part of LOTR in more than one aspect.
They both start of at a torturous slow pace and build up momentum as
they go along, all the way to the epic last confrontation/battle right
at the end. The one major difference between the LOTR saga and
The Hobbit trilogy is the picture quality. But what a difference it
is!!! The 1080p BRD version of LOTR was by in-itself a visual
masterpiece, even more when viewed on the proper TV screen. The 48fps
 3D version of The hobbit makes Avatar look Avatar-ded(sic!). In LOTR we had Moria, here we have the Goblin kingdom - and the Goblin King, personal favourite figure from Disciples II.

The Goblin kingdom sequence is also the one containing the most CGI rentered
scenes, truly testing the limits of the HFR technology. For me it failed to
deliver a clear image in comparison to analogue, propped stunt work VFX shots or
even compared to some 2D 24fps CGI action sequences - the "Matrix: Reloaded" freeway chase scene comes to mind. The camera movement is so fast, it creates motion blur and chopping, not to such extend mind you, to deem the whole thing unseable, but still quite irritating and confusing. I preferred the 2D Moria escape sequence, it was much more detailed, fluent and clear than this one here, still I will leave it up to you to decide. Bear in mind that HFR 3D technology is in baby steps here, hopefully by the 3rd instalment we will see some truly mind-blowing action sequences in all their 3D glory.

The main protagonists once again are the insanely beautiful NZ landscapes. That place is out of this world, I'm inclined to believe that Tolkien has travelled there before writing his books. I can't explain it differently; this furthermost south island IS Middle Earth - "Middgard" in the Norse mythology. And wait until you see it in HFR, you'll be picking your jaws up from the carpet.

Returning to the actual acting taking place by animated objects - eeh, I meant actors... - it is non-critical to any aspect of the film. Sir Ian MacKelen is the one outstanding character there - pun SOOOO intended - but the rest of the cast might as well been CGIs, would have drastically cut production costs. It is the same argument as with the 13 Oscars from LOTR:III, all the noise but nothing to say, not a single actor nomination. In Hobbit the argument is even easier justified, having the 13 out of the 15 main characters buried under a ton of prosthetics, hair and armour. THE HAIR...all the hair...I would not have thought that one man could have so much hair on him... Might as well have the Ewoks in Middle earth!!

Concluding this week’s movie rant - I will consider it a major victory over my procrastination if I deliver a review within 5 days of viewing  a movie - "The Hobbit - An unexpected journey" is an expected patchwork of ambition, vision, visual greatness and acting mediocrity. Like all the first steps into the unknown, be that a new continent, new filed of science, a new love or just a new technology, it takes courage, determination and above all an "I-don't-give-a-fuck" attitude towards criticism to take that step. Jackson's latest opus displays these qualities in spades, proving that the fire of adventure still burns bright and strong in us, even if we come out of the most orderly, secure and uninteresting hole in the ground. In the end "The Hobbit" is just a story about stepping out of your comfort zone and experiencing the world with all its aspects. Fuck the comfort zone, live your life!!

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Careful what you wish for…

…in this case you might get it but also ask for a refund. Yes, oh yes...I haz returned!! Like the original Dr. Who time for me has no meaning whatsoever. So, let us begin with what promises to be the first of many posts (if I don't get lost in an endless marathon of DIII/HL2/and-or WOW).

This post is about movies, on in particular but with another one crammed in there for good measure.

I saw TDKR last night [update: when I started writing this entry, it was September, I was in Greece and my life was far more complicated than now] and actually saw the last projection of the film; the multiplex will stop screening it today. It took me a while but I finally managed to see it before it disappears from cinemas and goes in the BRD queue.
Having waited for this for almost a year, following the news up to its release and witnessing the build-up for this film I got memory flashes from another similar build-up for a highly anticipated film, SW:Ep.1. Alas, the similarities don’t stop there.

I will try to present the TDKR review as a comparison between this movie and SW:Ep.1. If the comparison doesn’t add up, or you believe that it’s wrong/out of place/biased etc. feel free to bitch about it in the comments. This is my answer to your comments:

Both movies started their advertising build-up almost 1 year before release. Both movies were presented as the “movie-to-end-all-movies”, the biggest thing since, well...anything. Both movies faced technical challenges during or after production – Bane’s mumbled voice for TDKR was a major flaw in the initial trailer screening, SW:Ep.1 had to cope with it’s insane amount of VFX shots and digital camera shooting, forcing distributors to screen the movie only in few cinemas that actually had the technology to process the film, i.e IMAX.
Both movies were part of a trilogy, one being the final part and the other the opening act – to a coming disaster, but who could expect that. The fact that TDKR is the final instalment in a trilogy is obvious throughout the entire movie, mostly through the acting of its main characters – Bale, Cain and Oldman are playing as if they are so fed up with their characters that they can’t wait to get this over with and do something else. Hopefully, they will do something else and will forget about the embarrassment of this final act in TDK. Similar to SW:Ep. 1 Natalie Portman played as if she was on some sort of muscle paralyzer, throughout the whole film she had only one expression and that was: “What the hell is going on here? Who am I, what am I doing here?”
Having read the TDK comic series from Frank Miller, I was expecting something more for the movie adaptation, at least some involvement of Superman in there, some sort of mentioning of the “Judge Dredd” type of justice Batman decides to deliver in Gotham. I guess that Nolan found this too heavy for the audience and went on a different approach, fine, have it your way – TDK was one of the best films I’ve seen, but it had very little to do with the graphic novel. This approach was also adopted from Lucas on SW:Ep. 1. Instead of showing the birth of the most powerful and iconic villain in movie history as a dark and twisted process, he decided to make it a roller coaster ride in CGI Disneyland. The result was appalling to all SW fans, who wanted to see young Vader destroy entire cities with just a flick of his finger. Lucas tried to salvage Vader’s bad-ass image in Ep. II+III, albeit with so much over-the-top-and-out-of-place nonsense, that he made it even worse, culminating in the death of Padme FOR NO APPARENT FREAGIN REASON!!!

Going back to TDKR, the script was full of holes, gaps and absurd ad-hoc decisions (Why in the world would Bruce disavow Alfred just for one comment, even if that comment was so out of place! He’s the closest person he has to family and family is the drive behind the whole Batman character! That, and revenge of course). The problems with tracking the bomb are ridiculous, the convenient timer is laughable, no auto-pilot on a Bat-wing is just the icing to the cake of childish script errors. The overall feeling one gets from the script is of haste, of not putting the proper amount of will to make it better, more believable, tighter. To the script writer’s defence, this was not the worst script I have seen this year, the honour for that complete and utter train wreck goes to “Prometheus” – to which hopefully I will come back to in the future, if I can be bothered.

The few things I liked in TDKR were Christian Bale’s not-over-the-top acting, Anne Hathaway’s ass, Tom Hardy’s ultra-cool voice as Bane, the return of stunt based V FX and not so much CGI, Anne Hathaway’s ass on the Bat-bike, the Bat-wing. For a movie that concludes a great trilogy, it feels like a rip-off, so many inconsistencies in it, I truly believe that Nolan just wanted to go on to the next project.
I’ll leave you with this upcoming trailer of my Trek dose (MEDICINEEEEEE!!!!)

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The inevitable return of the great white dope

And after this nostalgic walk down my teen years in the ‘90s it’s time to get this thing rolling again. In the last few months since my last entry a great deal of events took place – so many in fact that I will not go into details here, maybe on another blog.

The geek-concerning facts are as follows:

I have basically stopped playing Diablo III since June. I finished hell, went in inferno and stopped at act 2. The latest update promised that it would help ease the transition between act 1 and act 2, guess what, it didn’t help much. What it did actually do was take away 7K damage that my wizard did due to attack speed items. Thanks Blizzard, that’s exactly what I wanted from this game. The RMAH is a failure so far –at least in Europe, since we Europeans don’t tend to stick our credit card in every available purchase hole. If nothing really impressive happens in the next few months, I’ll switch back to WOW, but NOT in a freekin panda!! My worgen rogue is in stand-by mode.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

To all new arrivals

The Internet is buzzing with news from up-coming games, gamers are on the edge of their seats and summer is on the way, making you feel like you’re about to cheat the love of your life if you play games with so much sun out there- yes, we have that here in Greece, we have oodles of it...

Let’s see what will be dropping in in the next few months. We covered Diablo III extensively all ready, what I forgot to mention in that article was the fact that Rockstar is going head to head with Blizzard on the 15th of May. They will be releasing the 3rd chapter of their bullet-time, neo-noir game saga Max Payne in an attempt to snatch some mullah from Activision’s
[Money Grabbing Claws of Greed :
Legendary armour, +10 to all geek stats,
+20% chance of getting a gazillion gold from devoted mindless drone-gamers,
-100% to social life of players, global productivity and seeing daylight again]

Rockstar will be using the
[Badass/Kickass: Dual handed Uzis of Mayhem:
+10 to health, speed and inches of your penis,
+5% chance of breaking your shoulder while trying to imitate bullet-time in your room,
No reload.EVER.]

to do that. Guns, guns, guns and more guns will be the order of the day, with some splendid choreography and tight controls for side dishes. For dessert you may choose between the all new and ground-breaking cross-game Multiplayer mode, allowing players to use characters from GTA V on their roster, and a story coming out of a Jason Statham movie. Check please!!

Tera is coming out tomorrow and it will be an interesting diversion of the present MMO’s out there, having the most fluid and characteristic combat mechanics from every other MMO currently out there. Oh yeah, also featuring spooky campfire storie mode too…I will wait for this one to inevitably convert to F2P, and then I’ll give it a try. It can’t be worse than STO…nothing can be worse than that!

This came to my attention earlier today

It will take about half a year to see if Treyarch can redeem themselves from the atrocity that was COD:BO. Seriously, I felt physically sick playing that game…

Sniper Elite V2 is coming out on 04/05 promising to “Change history with one bullet”. Killing Hitler sounds very interesting – I’m sure P.K. Dick would have written something quite clever and mind-blowing about that alternative history line. Having played the Sniper Elite I can say that this game is the closest thing you can get to feeling like an actual sniper. Give it a try.

I also read this today

My next entry will cover what I think about SW:TOR so far, starting from the beta to my awesome level 50 Sith Assassin and my girlfriend's level 37 puny, pathetic Twillek Jedi sage.

I'll leave you all with this image, I'm the guy on the right :)