Friday, November 25, 2011

Captain America: A Hardcore Review

Today I review the star spangled pretty boy Captain America. Kind of interesting, that America decided to fight the Nazis with a poster boy for the Aryan Nation. Even more interesting is that Nazis are fucking morons. Cause well, look at fucking the definition of Aryans as a race.
So this flick I rented via Redbox on Bluray last night. And Redbox is so nice that it warns you that you are about rent a Bluray that will not play in a standard dvd player.
Captain America starts off with a really sweet scene in the present. And I'm sitting telling my friend Chankla that, "dude, they're gonna find Cap frozen in an ice cube." Then, we jump back to the early 1940's where a young Steven Rogers, all of 98 pounds gets a 4F rating for joining the Army four times after lying on his paperwork. The cool thing was that the whole series of time it's Chris Evans all CGI'd to look all wimpy and tiny. But then when he emerges from the Super Soldier chamber, he looks like a fucking 12 inch GI Joe doll. It just seemed really odd to me, especially the whole really lame romantic tryst between Agent Peggy Carter and Steve. It felt forced, but she was pretty effing hot. I dig that 40's 50's pinup model look. But add some tattoos. Anyways, the movie had a lot of fucking cheese to it. But then again, we're talking about a guy who dresses up in red, white and blue. That's pretty fucking lame in appearance. I can't believe how stupid comic book characters look in movies when they look pretty cool in print. It struck me years ago when I saw a scene from the 1989 Batman movie where Batman and Vicki Vale are running through the city, it just looks really stupid. But this flick had great action, although the portions shot specifically for 3D were really ultra cheese. I wish Hollywood would knock off the 3D gimmick. And for all of you assholes who were dumb enough to purchase a 3D flatscreen and a 3D Bluray player are gonna be so sorry when that shit breaks and you're stuck with a fucking television that has a really warped looking picture. "Who's stupid now ya dirty sheep fucker?!"
So, the action was pretty well choreographed, but there were points that looked extremely cheesey. I did however love the nod to Cap's original costume and shield with the war bonds getup. I think if we re-edit that scene with "America Fuck Yeah," from the Team America movie. In fact. pretty much this entire flick was a propaganda piece. Especially while we're again at war for some fucking stupid reason that doesn't involve our freedom being trounced. Cause then our military would be sitting out front of the Capitol building in Washington DC and they be under heavy mortar fire.
I dug the issuing of the new shield and the explanation of the Vibranium. I really dug the whole technology angle with Howard Stark. His armor and everything. It just looks so lame with the coloration on screen. It's one of those things I really don't think works in a real life type event. But that's also what makes the comics so special and fun to read.
The super high points of Captain America was seeing Dum Dum Dugan and how awesome Red Skull looked. Hugo Weaving is one of my favorite actors. Cause anyone who can be behind a mask for an entire movie, and still make for a compelling character is a stellar actor. I loved the end scene where the try and ease Cap into the 21st century. That was great. I really liked a lot when it comes to Captain America, although I've never been a reader or collector of Captain America comics. I just don't really like his as a character. And I totally empathize with the idea that there is no way the American government would ever test on a white soldier before testing on a black soldier like in Captain America The Truth or Red White and Black, whatever the fuck that mini series was called. But overall I would say it was just a lead in to the Avengers movie for next year. And anyone who would put this on their top movie list is a fucking idiot. It basically was just a movie made to have like 8 different Captain America action figures. It was a merchandising attempt and nothing more.
In doing so, I give this flick a grade it deserves, a match that has been added to two dvd comps for WWE. Bet Ladder Matches and Essential Starcade. And didn't deserve to be on either. It had so many missed spots and a really fucking lame ending. From the final Starcade in 2000, the three way tag team ladder match that had the winner being the single man, not team, who climbed the ladder and grabbed the contract for a Cruiserweight Championship match the following night on Nitro. Of course WCW had slipped so far off the deep end that I guess this match was supposed to be epic in scope, but pailed in comparison to the three way tag team ladder matches in the WWE that were being put together by the Hardy's, the Dudley's and Edge and Christian. 3 Count versus the Jung Dragons versus Karagias and Knoble was a trainwreck of a match. Missed spots. A really fucking lame ending where both members of 3 Count grabbed the contract at the same time. Plus the garish big lime green baggy pants 3 Count wrestled in were icing on the cake. I mean the announcing even sucked, as there was no Bobby The Brain Henan. But at least there was lovely little Kimona Wannalaya, as Leia Meow.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Batman Year One dvd; A Hardcore Review

Wow. When I watched this, I was all psyched and motivated to let loose on one of Frank Miller's finest works. But mere days later, I'd sooner not piss on Miller were he on fire and I had just drunk a shit load of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Why'd Miller have to open his fucking mouth? Hello! Mr. "Comics are Renegade." You ain't so renegade now are ya. You joined that mighty 1% when you sold your soul and Will Eisner's legacy with that fucking horrible Spirit movie attempt. I would just call it a movie, but c'mon, let's be honest, it really wasn't. And for those of us who saw it, we sure as fuck can't UNSEE it. You who shit all over Brian Azzarello's Eisner Award acceptance speech cause he said, "fuck," in front of the venerable Mr. Eisner. A man like you, who's spent years shocking people with blood and guts, over the top violence and rampant sexism is offended when people begin taking to the streets in protest of what Corporate America is doing to Americans. You who say you're renegade, but you're scared of people voicing their disdain with corporate greed. and you call them, "louts, theives and rapists?" How so Frank. And I assume I can call you Frank cause well, I refuse to show you any sort of respect by calling you Mr. Douchebag. It's just like how America was founded Frank, you know, except without all that pesky, slavery and genocide. Well, onto the review I guess, I'll try and remain impartial here folks, but I am an artist and you know how off kiltered and emotional, louts we can be. busy thieving and raping our way up the food chain.
So, this is the modernization of the Batman. Taking him from the Golden Age of the 1940's to the much grimmer and more realistic 1980's. Jim Gordon, has transferred to Gotham City as their newest lieutenant. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne has returned after a more than decade long self imposed exile. Planning on avenging the murder of his parents by taking on every badguy in Gotham, Wayne has everything he needs, technique, drive, money and motive. Everything that is, except the one thing he really needs.
Gordon spends his first days of the story babying his pregnant wife, and getting to know the "ins and outs" of being a cop in Gotham. And that entails finding out most of the payroll of Gotham City's finest is also on the payroll of some of Gotham City's worst and getting the shit kicked out of him, with baseball bats by said finest. Wayne spends his first few days back, getting the shit kicked out of him by some of Gotham City's not so finest citizens. Then, he sits in a big comfy chair and decides if he should ring the bell to summon his man servant, Alfred to sew up his wounds. All the while, he's talking to his dead father about what real strength is. And just then when he can't take it anymore, wouldn't you know it, a fucking bat flies through the window and sits on his father's head. Or at least the head of the bust of his father.
So I guess, even in a blood loss induced state, ol' Brucie was able to grasp the concept that nothing produces fear, like the threat of rabies. Or maybe it was sparkly vampires, I don't fucking know. Anyhow, this fucking movie rocked. Why the fuck was it in the kid's section at Target? Cause today's kids are so much more mature than you were when you were a tyke. But then again, when I was a kid, I used a little thing called my imagination, played outside a lot and oh yeah there were less obese children too. Shut your face fatty this is my review and I'll make fun of whoever the fuck I want. I already made fun of the middle aged white guy who's obviously wound a bit too tight.
I didn't go with the two disk dvd set of this flick, cause it included 2 or 3 Batman cartoons that were hosted by Bruce Timm. I no doubt already own those 2 or 3 cartoons, and have no doubt seen them about a hundred times before.
But this flick was a lot of fun. It wasn't panel for panel the Year One of old, but it was fucking nice. The design, tone of the flick really matched Mazuchelli's art from the book. The voice casting was great. I didn't mind that Kevin Conroy wasn't cast as Batman/Bruce Wayne cause it was fucking Year One and it wasn't quite time for the gravel voice, but past time for Christian Bale's guttural growl of, "What the fuck did you just say?" No, this was the perfect mix with Bryan Cranston's semi cranky Jim Gordon, Eliza Dushku's sexified Catwoman, and the veteran Jon Polito as Commissioner Loeb, with Ben McKenzie as Bruce Wayne/Batman. It made sense in a lot of different ways.
Gordon begins his meteoric climb towards becoming Commissioner, while Bruce dawns the cape and cowl, gets a television smashed over his head all in the process of honing his craft. The fight sequences were amazingly rendered, and had that quasi-retro feel to it. The color palette was spot on. The thing I did not care for, is the merging of 2D and 3D animation. I know it's easier at times with certain things, like vehicles, city scapes, but to me it takes away from the pure feel of the experience. Especially when it's a retro type flick. I mean if it was Green Lantern, I'd be all for it. But an 80's Batman cartoon, c'mon. You know it's gonna be the biggest DC cartoon feature released this year. You're gonna make your money back. Oh and stop farming your "in-betweens" to fucking Korea. Keep it here in the states. I swear, this is why Occupy Wallstreet is going on. There's tons of AMERICAN animators looking for work. Especially since that fucker Michael Eisner shut down Disney's 2D feature studios down a few years back. Although, with The Princess and the Frog, I guess they started it back up. But, direct to video super hero projects are becoming in vogue and very kitchie. We're all the 99% here Warner Brothers.
Honestly I'm really glad DC made this edgy cartoon movie. DC's cartoon features have been super successful in my opinion. Great direction, superb casting and some of the best mother fucking story writing and adaptions I have witnessed. With DC moving in this direction, it gives me confidence that they will eventually be able to adapt The Dark Knight Returns into an animated feature, not unlike they did for the short in BTAS, Legends of the Dark Knight. And again, as much as I love Kevin Conroy as the one true voice of Batman, the casting in that short of Michael Ironside as an aging Dark Knight was nothing short of perfect. Here's hoping DC.

I'm not gonna tell you how I fucking grade my Hardcore Reviews. The fucking grade should give you that inkling. That and the fact that I cuss a lot. But this comes from an early episode of Eastern Championship Wrestling on Sports Channel Philadelphia, or ECW Hardcore TV. A young JT Smith fought the The Dark Patriot, secretly the brother of "Hot Stuff" Eddie Gilbert, and member of Hot Stuff International and the newly reformed Dangerous Alliance. The match itself wasn't really anything special, but the end of it was fucking HARDCORE. The Dark Patriot and Smith fought up to the "eagle's nest" above the ECW Arena, where with a few powerful punches Smith is sent over the side, tumbling 15 feet to the cold arena floor.

Comics: The Three Stooges; A Hardcore Review

It's tough to write a conclusive comic book story arc in six issues. So I can't imagine how difficult it must be to capture the life of a comedic legend, who's career spanned decades in just 24 pages, let alone FIVE. But that's what this book and it's creative team managed to do. And I know what you're thinking, "it says Three Stooges, not five." And you are so right, and wrong at the same time. Today the Hardcore Review is tackling three (five) lummoxes that were a comedy dynamo, Bluewater's Comics: The Three Stooges, which is the third issue of the Comics biographical series written by Jaymes Reed and drawn by issue one's Apriyadi Kusbiantoro. And recently, I have become a fan of the art of the documentary.
Reed again somehow does what might seem the impossible, to make people care about our history. And in a day and time when it's so fucking relevant to know about our past, we as a species, called Americans, seem to fall ever short. When we have a former comic book god like Frank Miller, bashing the Occupy Wallstreet movement, and even the Republican party silently gagging everytime Mitt Romney hits their tax payer funded flat screen televisions, we need to remember what it was to laugh. And I remember, like all of you, busting my sister on the head with a ferris wheel fist, or torquing someone's nose with a pair of pliers, that there was a comedy troupe that preceeded Kids in the Hall and Saturday Night Live. History my friends. And I am happy to report that I learned something. I know, learned something from comics. The fuck did I learn from comics other than Miller's illustrious word smitherie of, "I'm the goddamn Batman?" But I did. I found out a few things actually. First is Curly was NOT an original Three Stooge. That was Shemp. And another fancy tidbit, Shemp, Curly and Moe were brothers.
There was like only 2 word balloons in the entire book. Which, much like issue one about George Carlin was really not all that funny. The Stooges were born at the turn of the twentieth century. And it wasn't until after the Great Depression where they made their mark on not just the comedy world, but the entertainment world at large. And before when I said there were actually five Three Stooges, there were factually six, although Joe Besser, who was only known on screen as "Joe" was a very short lived career as a Stooge.
You know, the only complaint I think I even have about this book would be, I think I might have liked it even better in black and white. But that's only cause that's how I remember the Three Stooges. Well that and a better grad on my Reid Park Zoo project in design school. I did a Three Stooges parody piece that paraded the "Three Simians," with three different types of apes, with the classic Moe, Larry and Curly haircuts. Complete with the old school Three Stooges font and everything. But that's got nothing to do with Reed and Kusbiantoro's fine work here.
As some of you may know, and I'm seriously getting kinda fucking tired of reminding you, I don't review like some fat schlub from Chicago, or some pansy assed douchebag from some gossip rag piece of shit that spawned John Tesh. I don't even used a letter system, you know, like most of you got in remedial English. According to a friend, I am using "the lowest common denominator," but then again, according to me, I hate KISS and all they stand for. So here I go with my grade. The moment was something, nobody was ready for, and got somebody in a lot of trouble with his boss. In 1994, Mick Foley as Cactus Jack wrestled for WCW. When they established a shortlived relationship with the upstart ECW, Cactus wrestled Sabu in a dream match. Cactus lost, but not without delivering one of the most violent sounding chair shots I've ever heard, with a plastic fucking chair. And then afterward, Cactus delivered one of his most poignant promos ever, when he spit on the WCW World Tag Team title belt. This pissed off his boss, WOOOOOO, the man who would later call Foley nothing more than "a glorified stuntman," Ric Flair.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Strange dream

Today I had a dream I took a road trip with one of my oldest friends, Crystal. For some reason we went to her father and grandfather who lived in a swamp in a makeshift home that was essentially a couple of small campers and rv's duct taped together.
For some odd reason I was wearing very large hiking/work boots and I wasn't able to hold them up, they were so heavy, as I dangled my legs over their living room sized deep fryer (possibly for the critters they were catching). Crystal's grandpa said he was going to the store and asked if I wanted something to drink. I said, "sure. how about a PBR, please?" He retorted by saying I needn't ask for something so inexpensive, and that in "this area Jeremiah Weed was the good stuff." I said, sure that's fine, and off he went. I don't remember much about the rest of that part of the dream, but then it got really weird. We went hunting, as was the point of the trip to see Crystal's family. It was really crazy. There was like a store where you went hunting. They had a miniature game preserve stocked with wild boar and pot bellied pigs. And they had a stock pile of guns. And I mean stock pile. Not being a hunter, and having never killed anything more than insects and spiders, I really didn't want to hunt. But they had an option for that. A ping pong ball rifle. So, I waded around this miniature, and I mean miniature, like as in Mini Golf, preserve shooting at pigs with my ping pong ball rifle. But even though it was loaded with ping pong balls, it shot paint balls. And for some reason the pigs would just stop and let me shoot them. Oh, yeah, there were chickens too.
After "hunting" I got these game codes that were good for prizes at the X-Box setup in the mall, and suddenly I was there attempting to pick out my goodies, except the fucking counter was closed down.
Fucking weird.

Showcase Presents Booster Gold vol. 1; A Hardcore Review

What the fuck can I say about this mother fucker? 80's cheese? sure. But with some great writing and sweet art. Booster Gold is Michael Carter from the 25th Century. A former All-Everything quarterback for Gotham University, Booster had it all, potentially. But Booster lived most of his life in poverty, as his father had gambled away the family's life savings and then left afterward. Carter's mom and sister were all he had, and they lived in the ghetto. His only way out, make the big time through professional football. And he would have, if he could have just waited till he left school for the pros. But Michael's mother's health was failing, and without an operation, a very costly operation done in zero gravity, she was a goner. So Booster took on with the organized crime racket and started shaving points. He vowed never to throw a game, just make things work for those guys with crooked noses. And he got busted. Guess what kids, crime doesn't pay. Unless you're an "elected" official. Cause, then it pays up the ass. Thrown out of school and his professional status pretty much less than zero, Carter left home and took up a menial job as a night watchman of the Metropolis History Museum. With security bot, Skeets at his side, Booster recognized and incredible opportunity, steal some relics and travel back in time to become a super hero. A super hero with mega endorsement deals and movie contracts. He reprogrammed Skeets and did the deed.
Showcase Presents Booster Gold volume one is over 600 pages of "are you fucking kidding me?" But it's awesome. It didn't come highly recommended by my comic book dealer, as he reads everything that isn't television or movie related that comes into his shop (he did speak highly of Ambush Bug volume 1 though), but I decided to take a chance. I mean 600 plus pages for under twenty bucks is pretty fucking sweet. Especially if I enjoy the fuck out of it. AND I DID! For the most part Booster Gold was written with pencils by Dan "The Death of Superman" Jurgens and mostly having been inked by Mike DeCarlo, this tomb was amazing. So much better than volume one of Showcase Presents Green Lantern. Probably because it took place in the seriously fucked up 1980's instead of the seriously whacked out 1950's where every woman was supposed to be June Fucking Cleaver, but for some reason had a hardon for being married, even when they were an heiress to a multi-million dollar aircraft company (stupid bitch). i had fun the whole way through this ride. Jurgens knows how to craft a compelling story about an extremely vapid and superficial character. And some of the plot twists... totally fucked up.
The best part of the book had to be, straight man Skeets. Providing his knowledge of the verbal vernacular of the times to the woahfully wordless-smith Gold was hilarious. Correcting all of his misuses of 80's slang was hilarious. And it seriously rocked cause in my head I was hearing the voice of Skeets from the Justice League Unlimited cartoon who was voiced by Billy West (Futurama) while I read. And even though I was not reading comics in the 80's, this book definitely encompassed the idea of the 80's. Especially if you compare it to Brett Easton Ellis' American Psycho. There was a lot of materialism involved. Money grubbing and fame seeking, Booster Gold provided laughs, cheers, boos and even some sympathy along the way. His story reads like that of so many inner city youth who's only possible escape from poverty are sports, or illegal means. And in Gold's case, it turned out to be a little of both.
Booster Gold volume one had guest stars galore. The Legion of Superheroes made an appearance as Booster Gold tried to save the president from an assassination attempt. The Teen Titans, or at least Donna Troy showed up for like one fucking panel. Batman, Robin, Superman and the mid 80's incarnation of the Justice League showed up, which included Martian Manhunter, Blue Beetle, Rocket Red, a seriously 80's version of Black Canary and Guy Gardner, with amnesia. But it could have not had any of these other characters, and just included perrenial mort, Rainbow Raider, which was an awesome story by the way and an android Booster, which wouldn't have worked without Superman, and the Dimension X crew.
Honestly I do not know what the fuck I was expecting from this book, but I got more than I bargained for and I now include Booster Gold and Skeets among my favorite characters. Gold sought to be a super hero for all the wrong reasons, fame and money. But he ended up being a super hero none the less. With that, I give Showcase Presents Booster Gold volume 1 a train wreck of a debut as its grade; as it also included his first appearance and origin stories. In 1993, in ECW a wrestler debuted who was so unorthodox that the wrestling world was forever changed. "The most homicidal, suicidal, genocidal maniac known to man" appeared in the ECW Arena. Bound to a dolly with a chain, with his mouth covered like Hannibal Lecter, Sabu emerged. Throwing chairs and attacking fans, the man who was considered revolutionary among his peers, but never saw the coin he deserved, made his mark on American soil. Sabu went head to head with the relatively new wrestler, The Tazmaniac (Taz) in a match that saw slingshot leg drops, suicide dive planchas and Asai Moonsaults. In his ECW debut, under the guidance of manager hunter Q. Robins III and with his handler, 911, Sabu defeated Taz, the man he would eventually win the ECW tag team titles with, and main even the very first ECW pay per view against. "The human highlight reel of professional wrestling," and whirling dervish of the squared circle cemented his place in the annals of professional wrestling.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Seven Samurai; A Hardcore Review

What comes to mind when you think of epic movies? What comes into your train of thought when you think the word, "epic?" Is it some shoddy spaghetti western? Some Peter Jackson adaption of a series of books? Or maybe a universe spanning crossover that forces you to buy thirty comics you don't really want in the first place? Well, to me, "epic" is three and a half hours of some of the greatest visual storytelling I've ever seen. Now, I'll be honest, I'm not nor have I ever really been a student of the "classics." I read Shakespeare only in class. Silver Age comics are a mind numbing bore into my skull. And the bible. Well, I've wanted to roll a few fatties with those pages. And I used to nod off during mass as a young teen. Now don't get me wrong. I feel one can have respect for the classics. For a legacy. But there comes a time in history, when super hero stories about a woman being trusted to run an aircraft company, who's more interested in tying the knot with a super hero she's met all of twice. And his alter ego who tries to out do his magic space ring wearing self with indulgences in chauvinism, who spews dialog that makes me want to tear my ears off, even though it's printed is just passe. But there are some things that truly transcend time, and history and most of all technology itself. And Akira Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai" is just one of those things. This movie has fucking everything. And to think it feels like it starts right smack in the middle of a plot point. This movie is something every director of so called cinematic masterpieces like, Jackson, Ridley Scott, Lucas and Bay need to learn from. It's called story, plot and pacing. Something Kurosawa did in spades with this flick.
You would think the name says it all. But the samurai are truly only half the story. The journey to find these seven noble warriors willing to risk their lives for people you wouldn't spit on. There is something to be said for honor. For pride. For just fucking doing what is right. And don't get me wrong, there are a lot of good people out there, who do good things and ask for very little in return. And quite often, they get just that; very little.
The samurai were of noble heritage. Think of the knights. And just like knights from Europe, most were drunkards, who pillaged and looted near empty villages and raped women and murdered children. It seems civility cannot be made by being born into nobility.
Kurosawa shot this film for release in 1954, six years before the release of The Magnificent Seven, which was an obvious remake. I've never seen that Steve McQueen movie, but I'm sure it's not nearly as majestic as Seven Samurai. You don't often get films like this these days that aren't bogged down with massive continuity problems, shot with million dollar equipment or CGI enhanced till it makes your fucking eyes bleed. Oh, fuck's sake help me, in 3D.... It's a gimmick Hollywood, just like foil enhanced covers for comics and gold stamped baseball cards. It does not substitute for quality. And it should never be mistaken for it either. Kurosawa had a vision that he launched into several epic in scope movies. Most of his films were remade by Hollywood into "color" spaghetti westerns. Complete with tough guys with no personality, who were almost villainous in character. Well, FUCK THAT! It's bullshit to rip off someone's idea and then not only NOT improve upon it, but make it that much worse. Well Kurosawa is the original. The guy who inspired those spaghettis westerns that inspired John Woo that "inspired" Tarantino, complete with lousy tough guys spouting a verbal diarrhetic of unintelligible jabber.
Some of you may know these reviews, and some of you may not. Well, a quick recap of my grading system. It's called the Hardcore Review for a reason. I cuss, I'm often drunk while writing them. And I use moments from professional wrestling history as a basis for my grade. The more hardcore, bloody, sexual the action; or awesomely fucked up the verbiage, the more I liked and heartily recommend this work. And here goes. In 1993 a small promotion in Pennsylvania took on a short lived relationship with an organization that had seemingly folded years before. Less than one year after that merger, there was a tournament to crown the new NWA World Heavyweight Champion. Now this didn't make much sense after WCW split from the NWA and crowned their own World Title, and the then WWF had had their version for years. But this little upstart company, that was making waves and with this moment solidified their mark in wrestling history. Shane Douglas won the two day tournament. And as he was presented with the newly minted NWA belt, he spoke a few words. He dedicated the win to his recently deceased father. He mentioned ever major champion in NWA history, even his much hated Ric Flair. And then... he threw down the belt and said, "And they can all kiss my ass!.... Cause I am not the man to be handed a torch from a company that died, RIP seven years ago! I am the man who ignites the new flame of THE SPORT of professional wrestling." He then grabbed the ECW (Eastern Championship Wrestling) Heavyweight Title and proclaimed himself the ECW World Heavyweight Champion.