Thursday, July 2, 2009

As we in America settle in to celebrate the birth of our nation, I would like to talk about death for a moment. But not in a downer type of way, more along the lines of a concern.

For years death has been fluid in soap operas and tv shows. It's used as a game changer and a way to create buzz. But we all know in alot of cases, Soap operas especially that death is never an end and soon enough the death will be undone and the character who was killed will be back shortly. But we have given it a free pass since it's entertainment. But now it is starting to permeate into comic books again.

In the old days of comics when a character died, they were dead. Examples are Bucky, Captain America's partner. Uncle Ben- Spiderman's uncle. Then death continued into the 70s and 80s. This time the victims are Jean Grey-Phoenix from the X-men, Barry Allen Flash, Supergirl, Robin 2- Jason Todd who was actually picked to die by a gimmick. You called an 800 number to see if you wanted him to live or die after an encounter with the Joker. They fans spoke and they wanted Todd dead. But then a funny thing happened. Phoenix came back to life.

In a strange story that took place about 3-4 years after her original death, Jean Grey was brought back to life and the stage was set for more returns. During the 90s comics became a hot property and many people were buying comics because they thought they would be valuable. So to keep up that apperance both Marvel and DC (the Big Two comic companies) threw everything they could into the stores and it was eaten up. A good example, The Death of Superman.

Superman had been around for 50 years and the comic creators decided they wanted to try something, so they killed him. What followed was media blitzes and huge sales. SO now it was cool to create these kinds of stories. Fans and non-fans went to comic stores and bought up everything they could in hopes they would be valuable. But roughly aboyut 6 months later, they brought back Superman in another huge media blitz that again made them a ton of money. So now it was cool to kill super heroes because it was guaranteed media blitzes and huge paydays. But soon the bottom fell out of the industry and it took some time to recover. Now it was a niche market. The speculators who were burned by this refused to get caught up in the media blitz again. Until Marvel decided to Kill Captain America.

It seems appropriate that the symbol of America was killed during a time of turmoil in the US. The recession was just starting to hit, an unpopular president was still in office, and things seemed to be getting worse for America. That was 2 years ago. It is also approriate that him imminent return begins the same week as Independence day, and America though still gripped in a recession is starting to have some hope with a new president in office. But again it turns Death into a joke, especially with who replaced Captain America. The aforementioned Bucky who apparently was not dead to begin with again! But the one difference this time around is that the story was actually good. It was not the writers decisison to turn it into a media blitz, Marvel did that on it's own, making a big deal about the death of Captain America and drawing the fans and non fans into the stores again. And now a few weeks earlier when it was announced Cap was returning the media blitz happened again.

This is just the most recent example. The fans of comics who read them are now inundated with the return of characters who were long thought dead. Supergirl, alive again, Barry Allen the Flash, alive again. Plus with less fanfare in the mainstream public, many other characters were killed only to return soon after. Wonder Woman was killed, she returned, Superboy (a different one not young Clark Kent) dead, now alive, Kid Flash, dead now alive again, Green Lantern Hal Jordan was killed only to return to life again. Norman Osborn, Harry Osborn over at Marvel, both dead now alive, and the list goes on. It is now a joke when they say such and so is going to die. Big deal he/she will be back before you know it.

Case in point Batman Bruce Wayne. He was recently "killed" in a big story in DC, and replaced by his first sidekick Dick Grayson who was the original Robin. The story is good, but we all know Batman will be back soon.

Finally the main reason for all this cyncism about Batman and Captain America. They both have movies coming up and you can bet the Comic Companies do not want these supposed dead characters to be dead when the films come out. How else will you be able to exploit them again?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Clash of the Summer Films

So this weekend in the movie theaters we have a classic match up that really hasn't happened this year yet. In this case we have the new Terminator Movie Teminator Salvation with Christian Bale coming out on Thursday and Night at the Museum 2 with Ben Stiller coming out on Friday. Now here is the matchup. Hardcore action versus a family film. In the past Family Films have been able to put the smackdown on lots of films, how else do you explain the huge box-office for Beverly Hills Chihuaha? So how to handicap this weekend's box office total. Who do you think takes the victory. Now keep in mind that even though Terminator comes out Thursday, the box-office totals just tally Fri-Sun. So what say me? Night at the Museum 2 takes it by about 3 million dollars. Bear in mind it is a holiday weekend and kids are off of school on Monday so parents have no problem with them going to the movies during the weekend. My tally for Fri-Sun. Night at the Museum 2 73.5 mil, Terminator 70.3 mil. We shall see.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Response to "ok WTF"

My colleague Ramblings From The Homestead has written a blog about why NASA has a 2nd Shuttle on the pad. NASA is telling everyone that is has to do with being safe. But what if it's about something else being safe and not neccessarily the Space Shuttle in orbit?
One of the biggest conspiracy theories about NASA is that they have actually doctored the photos from the Mars rovers on the surface of Mars. That NASA is hiding something of major importance. But how do we get the pictures without anyone seeing what they really look, or what if there is another set of photos that they are hiding from the Public. Where would be the best place to store them where no one but NASA can access them? How about in the Hubble, or one of the various other satellites in orbit? Let me clarify.
Say there is a special storage space on the Hubble or in one of these satellites. NASA beams the hidden photos or the real photos there, NASA goes up ostensibly to "repair" the satellites and or Hubble, but instead they pick up a simple Memory stick or some other storage device with these super secret pics and bring them back to Earth safely without anyone seeing them.
So NASA must have some really good pics they need to retrieve from this "repair" mission. So much that they feel maybe they have been compromised or that if something does happen they can retrieve the pics without anyone seeing them if the other shuttle fails. Just my opinion.
Or it could be aliens... you never know...

Monday, May 11, 2009

76.5 million reasons to love Star Trek

Let me get this off my chest right here and now. STAR TREK WAS AWESOME!!! That's my review. Enjoy.

Just kidding, but only partially. What follows is my more in depth review of Star Trek with some slight spoilers.

First some hardcore Trekkars may not have liked it because it deviates from the stories they know, but if they are smart, and most of them are, and if they paid attention, as I am sure most did, then this should not be an issue, but if you are going in expecting a canon Star Trek movie you will be disappointed because the main reason for this film is to start fresh without having to stick with previous continuity, and they do a damn good job.

The film starts with the arrival of a Romulan named Nero who comes from the future trying to find Spock and destroy him, instead they help destroy a Federation Starship called the Kelvin. What's significant about that is that this never happened in the original continuity and this event alone creates an alternate reality which is where this re-boot takes place. So from this point on everything changes and follows a new path, a path that no Trekkars have gone down before. What else is significant about this event is that it kills Captain Kirk's father, who was an acting captain on the ship after the main captain was killed by Nero. His actions saved 800 people including his wife and their new born son (Kirk). Unfortunately in previous continuity Kirk's dad lived a long life. So right away everything changes. We then do some flash-forwards that compare Spock's life on Vulcan as a half-human half Vulcan as he is growing up under scurnity, and the Rebellious Kirk who has an evil stepdad. (Glock-Glock)

Soon things are put in motion and the young Kirk and Spock end up going to Starfleet academy. Three years pass and the action starts up as the planet Vulcan gets attacked and all spacecrafts are needed to help. So the young cadets are sent to their various ships and the battle begins. Kirk who is under academic probabtion and should not be allowed on a starship until things are on, gets on board the new Enterprise thanks to his best friend Bones McCoy. He discovers that something is not right and tries to convince the captain of the Enterprise, who also happened to be the man who convinced him to enter starfleet Captain Pike. It turns out to be a trap by Nero who decimates Starfleet, but the Enterprise is able to cause some damage to Nero's ship, but in the end Vulcan is destroyed and Spock's mother is killed, two things that did not happen in continuity. Also Spock has been put in charge of The Enterprise by Pike who is kidnapped by Nero. Kirk gets on Spock's nerves and Spock sends him to an ice planet where he is to wait for members of Starfleet who happen to have a base there to pick him up and court-marshall him. But Kirk decides to escape and ends up in a cave where he meets up with Spock! But this Spock is from the previous Continuity where Nero is from also and now he is trapped in this alternate timeline. He ends up helping Kirk get back onto the Enterprise with a little help from Scotty. Kirk is then able to relieve Spock of duty and they set up a plan to stop Nero who is now intent on destroying Earth the same way he did Vulcan.

That's the basic premise. There is a lot more to it but why spoil everything. Now my take on things. I love the idea of the alternate reality because now you can do things you would not have been able to do within the original continuity while setting up new ideas that can be followed up on in future installments. They have pretty much been given a blank check, and that is good. The acting was first rate with Chris Pine as Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock being the main characters and both doing an admirable job. But Karl Urban steals the show as Bones McCoy, his very prescence and mannerisms and vocal inflextions mirror DeForest Kelley's McCoy. John Cho and Anton Yelchin were cast fairly well as Sulu and Chekov, Simon Pegg was criminallly underused in the film as Scotty, but his few scenes he was perfect. Zoe Saldana was very cute as Uhura but needed more of a spark and who she ends up dating on the Enterprise is another surprise that could only happen in this Alternate reality. Bruce Greenwood as Captain Pike was perfect as well, and an unrecognizable Winona Ryder played Spock's mom. Ben Cross as Sarek was so good that I thought Mark Lenard the original Sarek was playing him here as well. Needless to say the film is brillant, the story is effective and not confusing, and the effects brillant. Totally an A+, or 5 out of 5.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Not the Face! You sissy marys!

Today Dom DeLuise passed away. Now it is always sad when someone dies, but Dom was a big old Teddy Bear, from his work with Mel Brooks in such films as Blazing Saddles and History of the World part one, and Spaceballs, to his work with Burt Reynolds in two Cannonball Run Movies and Smokey and The Bandit part 2. The one thing I always remembered about those films is that Burt Reynolds always slapped the shit out of him when they showed the bloopers during the closing credits. Sometimes it verged on the cruel, but Dom did not seem to mind. His roles in these later films were as big old teddy bears, whereas in the Brooks films he seemed to play truly outrageous people like Pizza the Hutt and the Gay Director in Blazing Saddles.

One of my memories of Dom was on my birthday a long time ago. (1981) In my house we always got to go to the movies as a family and the birthday person picked which film they wanted to see. Well that summer my sister was trying to urge me to see a film called Raiders of the Lost Ark. But I did not want to see it. I wanted to see The Cannonball Run. And we did. Dom's Captain Chaos captivated an 8 year old and I will always thank for him for that. RIP Dom, you deserve it.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Driving Habits of the Rich and Stupid

On a day it is pouring rain, the idiots are in force on our nations roads. Today in lovely downtown Baltimore on the Jones Falls X, a car was driving on the shoulder to get ahead of the backup everyone else was trapped in. I was hoping to God either that A. he saw an abandoned car and had to slow down and wait for someone to let him in, or he ran into a police officer. Neither of which happened.

Since it is raining and is about 7:30 in the morning, it was dark and dreary, there was a car without headlights on. Isn't it a rule that you need headlights on , on a day like this? Don't even get me started on the idiots who have no idea what Yield means, or those who drive on an exit road and wait until just about they are supposed to exit then jump in front of you. Idiots. And more of this rain is supposed to fall. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the rain, I am against the idiots who drive in the storm. Morons...