Click here to see the “I’m Married to Batman!” episode list.
Here’s the fifth and final episode of “I’m Married to Batman!” Here, we’re ribbing on what I assume will be an iconic line from The Dark Knight Rises. It’s worth mentioning that while that is a Bumble Bee toy from the Transformers line and is, in fact, a design based on the movie, I in no way endorse the Michael Bay Transformers movies. Read the rest of this entry
The Christopher Nolan & Christian Bale Batman movie series comes to an end with The Dark Knight Rises, and they decided to go out with a bang. Literally. Stuff blows up in this movie. A lot. At some point, I half expected the stuff that Batman punches to explode. Still, this movie isn’t just an action flick: it’s an adventure, a mystery, a drama and an inspirational sports movie all rolled up into one, and none of it disappoints as everything from the first two movies ties together nicely and the end satisfies the audience in an anti Inception way.
Click here to see the “I’m Married to Batman!” episode list.
Here’s the third episode of “I’m Married to Batman!” and in my opinion, this is the best of the series. There are two more after this, but it’s all down hill from here. This episode is a hodgepodge of iconic lines from Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Read the rest of this entry
If you ever wondered what it’d be like to be married to Batman after he retired but refused to stop wearing his costume, this is how it might go. Read the rest of this entry
Superhero movies are sprouting up faster than I can keep track of, and by the end of this summer, who knows how applicable this list will be, but I just can’t wait that long. So, in no particular order, I most humbly present to you my incomplete list of The 10 Best Superhero Movies of All Time. Read the rest of this entry
I’m ready to explain my feelings on the Thor movie, and it’s all spoilers from here. Also, I’m going to smash it into tiny pieces – yet, I liked this film.
I think the trailer actually did a better job of setting up the story; it would have been more interesting to have the movie continue on with the story on earth and then tell how Thor ended up on earth in flashback, but whatever. Like Daredevil, maybe I’ll re-edit this movie someday.
I’m sure there is a way to review this movie without spoiling it for you, but I’m a big fan of comic books, so that’s just not going to work for me.
Much like the Incredible Hulk, Thor is a gigantic setup for The Avengers movie at it’s core. Sure, it may look like this movie has interesting things to say, but I feel like I just sat through something that could have been summarized in five minutes during the first act of The Avengers – yet I was never bored. I don’t have any explanation for that contradiction.
So who is Thor? He’s the Norse God of Thunder. If you need more background information on Thor, then I suggest you consult your local library, because this movie is not going to supply you with a lesson in mythology. Still, it’s hard for me to separate in my mind a perceived flaw in the story telling because Marvel Comics has given me a lesson the inhabitants of Asgard, but I will say this; it would have been helpful to mention that Loki is the god of mischief.
The best thing I can say about this movie is that Chris Hemsworth is great – I never doubted he was Thor for a second and I look forward to seeing him in this role and others for a long time to come. On and Idris Elba as Heimdall was great – well portrayed, well written – awesome. The worst thing I can say about this movie is, couldn’t you develop [insert various characters/sub plots here] a little further?
Loki did what now? I felt like the movie was trying to throw us a curve ball, like, “Oh… it was Loki who was behind it all! Almost like he’s a trickster or something!” His end of the plot (which kinda drives the whole movie) didn’t feel clear… his motivations seemed ill defined or weak – I can’t believe Loki let the Frost Giants into Asgard just to ruin his brother’s big day; but I suppose you could argue he did that because he knew The Destroyer could handle the situation and it would win him some favor with the Frost Giant King… eh.
Thor learned what now? I think we can all agree that Odin sent Thor to earth so he’d learn some humility, but the moment when he goes from the guy who smashes mugs on the ground of diners to the hero who helps make breakfast and sacrifices his life for his friends is a bit unclear.
The “Odin Sleep” is what now? If you thought Odin was having a stroke or something when he laid down on the steps, raise your hands. It’s OK, it’s not your fault – the movie didn’t explain what was happening until after it happened. Couldn’t Odin had said that he was making Thor king because he had to do his “Odin Sleep” thing at the beginning of movie, thereby creating a power vacuum that would have provided more than ample motivation for Loki to get his treason on? Not only would one sentence at the botched coronation fixed this problem, it would have made the entire movie a lot stronger.
The Love Story – Was I in the bathroom when Thor and Natalie Portman fell in love? No, I wasn’t – I just don’t know when it happened in the movie. Obviously, Natalie Portman is very lovely, so I’m not giving Thor a hard time… and I guess Thor is jacked, so we can’t get too mad at Natalie Portman, so I guess I’ll have to let this go.
The Warriors Three – have three characters ever been more under utilized? Especially Volstagg, who is the only member of the group I can name. I guess the movie made it clear that Thor was close with all of these characters, but who are they? Seriously, what are their names? I just happen to know that the beard guy is Volstagg because I wasted my time and money reading Siege: Embedded which prominently featured Volstagg.
Female characters – no Enchantress? I would have liked to see The Enchantress in this movie – she could have been flying her usual “I love Thor” flag and after he rejected her like he usually does, she could have teamed up with Loki, blah blah blah, hilarious antics ensue. Instead we get Sif? Who the hell is Sif? I guess she hangs out with The Warriors Three, and she does seem kinda familiar… but whatever.
Are there any female characters for women to relate to in this movie? I’m pretty sure there aren’t. Well, Chris Hemsworth has his shirt off; hopefully that does something for the ladies. But let’s see… Sif was at least in the mix and doing things; the Queen was useless, Natalie Portman was just sorta there, but it was nice that they snuck Kat Dennings into the movie as the wise cracking intern.
Clint Barton – what a tease. My dork radar went crazy when Agent Coulson asked for a SHIELD agent to get up high with a gun and we saw a plethora of gun options, but the reaching hand grabbed a bow – DORK ALERT! It’s Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye! I didn’t know he was going to be in this movie! Yeah… he’s not – we never see him again. What a bunch of shiz!
Technical stuff - Kenneth Branagh, who I know better as a brilliant actor, made some odd choices when it came time to put the camera somewhere. Why did he do so many oddly framed, crooked angles? Even in closeups, there are these shots where the camera is totally sideways… I don’t get what he was trying to convey. Was I supposed to feel uncomfortable? I didn’t get it – it just looked weird. Also, many of the action scenes suffer from First Transformers Movie/Batman Begins syndrome, where the camera is too close to the action and you can’t tell what’s going on – I just assume that shots get framed in that matter to hide something, like an unfinished special effect. I guess it’s supposed to create intimacy, and in Batman Begins, I think they were trying to convey the way Batman just jumps in on his opponent before they knew what hit them, but it didn’t work there, and it doesn’t work here.
The Standard Marvel Tease After the Credits – [THE FOLLOWING COULD SPOIL THE AVENGERS AND CAPTAIN AMERICA MOVIE, SO BE WARNED] I guarantee you that device Nick Fury shows us is something the Red Skull invented during World War II to import monsters from one of the other realms that he wanted to unleash on the allies – Captain America stops him before he does it… then it turns up again in The Avengers, Loki teams up with the Red Skull and in the second act, they bring some horror to earth for The Avengers to fight… that’s my guess. (For dorks like myself, this is the movie version of the Cosmic Cube, I guess… Pretty far departure from the comic book version… you know, because it’s not a cube.)
Some final thoughts – I don’t know if this movie needed to be made, but one thing is for sure: it’s out now, and they aren’t going to explain any of this stuff again, so if you intend on seeing The Avengers, you pretty much have to see this movie. It’s certainly not a bad film, and I’m sure I”ll see it again someday, but Thor didn’t exactly blow my mind. If not for the performance of Chris Hemsworth, this would be a below average movie.
My Rating: 3 out of 5
Batman: The Long Halloween is a graphic novel (trade paperback?) that compiles the thirteen issue limited series of the same name. Writer Jeph Loeb and artist Tim Sale worked in the continuity of Batman: Year One, created by writer Frank Miller, illustrated by David Mazzucchelli, colorist Richmond Lewis, and lettering by Todd Klein, although Long Halloween is superior to Year One in just about every way possible, although I would say Sale and Mazzucchelli’s artistic skills are fairly even. It’s not enough to say that Long Halloween is better than Year One; I have to make it clear that Long Halloween is probably the best comic book limited series I’ve ever read, and even that’s not giving it enough credit, because these days, Marvel and DC push out zillions of awful limited series every year, to the point where I had to stop buying them all together – see Batman Odyssey and Siege for examples of this.
If you read Batman: Year One, then you should be right at home with Long Halloween, but I wouldn’t call Year One required reading by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I don’t have much to say about Year One – at least, I don’t have much praise to heap on it. I assumed it was going to be an origin story, but it really isn’t; essentially, we just see a young Batman who makes a lot more mistakes then we’re accustomed to seeing Batman make. Details and character development are not delivered to the audience in abundance, and ultimately, the book damaged my opinion of Frank Miller. Essentially, Long Halloween grabs the undeveloped mob characters from Year One and develops them. (If you’re interested in an origin story for Batman, you may as well go watch Batman Begins again – which borrows from Year One, but fleshes out the characters (especially Batman) in ways that Year One never even attempted.
Perhaps the greatest contributor to Long Halloween was Mark Waid, who did wonders for Captain America after Mark Gruenwald’s 10 year reign of terror ended with his untimely death. Waid suggested that Loeb work with Two-Face’s origin, and the rest, as they say, is history. There is a ton of Long Halloween in The Dark Knight’s script, and frankly, The Dark Knight is one of the greatest action movies of all time. But Long Halloween is more than a template for The Dark Knight; it’s very much its own story.
Although Long Halloween is said to focus on a younger Batman than we’re accustomed to seeing, it’s not really true, at least not in my mind. Batman is presented as the character we all know and love, it’s just that certain events haven’t come to pass yet in the Batman time line: Gordon is still Captain Gordon, not commissioner yet; Two-Face is still Harvey Dent, which is a major plot thread in the story; Dick Grayson is presumably on tour with his parents and the circus as he doesn’t make an appearance… Yet, nearly every major Batman villain is already established and presented in the story without explanation: the Joker, Poison Ivy, The Riddler, The Mad Hatter, The Scarecrow, Calendar Man and Catwoman are all in Long Halloween. I don’t have any problem with this, and the use of the Rogue Gallery is brilliantly done here, but I wouldn’t say we’re anywhere near the beginning of the Batman story.
One curious bit about Long Halloween is it’s over abundance of homages to The Godfather. The very first page of Long Halloween is Bruce Wayne saying, “I believe in Gotham City,” to Carmine Falcone, just as we see Bonasera say to Vito in the first moments of The Godfather. Falcone wears a similar suit to Vito Corleone, and his nephew is getting married, just like the first scene in The Godfather, except it’s Vito’s daughter who is getting married there. Pages later, after a shootout in Flacone’s office, he says, “In my home. On my nephew’s wedding day,” similar to Micheal’s reaction to his attempted assassination in Godfather II: “In my home! In my bedroom, where my wife sleeps! Where my children come to play with their toys.” The homages don’t really end there, but then, when you’re writing about gangsters and you choose to make allusions to the Godfather… it’s kind of a joke, but its well done, but it might also be viewed as cheating character development; you just immediately associate these characters with the characters from The Godfather… but it’s original enough to keep you interested.
For the most part, Long Halloween is a story about Batman, Gordon and Dent teaming up together to take down the mob, so you can easily see how the The Dark Knight they borrowed this angle. The movie adapts a scene where Dent and Batman burn down a warehouse full of mob money as opposed to The Joker doing so in the film. There are scenes up on the roof top with Batman, Gordon and Dent talking and planning (similar scenes appear in The Dark Knight), but their investigations and arrests provide little in the way of results. A killer emerges who targets the mob, always committing it’s murder on a Holiday (and the press so names the killer ‘Holiday’) and leaving both the murder weapon and a token that represents the particular holiday, like the jack-o-lantern that is left with the first victim, who was killed on Halloween. Wash, rinse, and repeat.
Yeah, the story is a bit repetitive, yet still engaging. I’d say it was a mistake to force 13 issues (I did say force… why do 12 issues when you can do 13? The Poison Ivy plot thread is as silly as the Scarecrow thread is useless) and given that I read the trade paper back (Graphic novel? Can I use those terms interchangeably or what?) rather than the individual issues as they came out once a month, I had to deal with quite a bit of reintroduction that could have been easily edited out, but wasn’t. I think I read that “Carmine Falcone is Gotham City’s
Untouchable Crime Lord” about 20 times. Although they’ve packaged all 13 issues together, no effort was made to have it move seamlessly like a novel with chapters, and I guess that was intentional – they dropped in some cover art before each issue started, and I was glad to have it, but they could have stuck them all in the back and edited it together at least a little bit.
While I wouldn’t say that Batman: The Long Halloween is perfect, there is no doubt that it’s great. I loved it, and I look forward to reading it again – I guarantee you that by the end, you both WILL and WILL NOT have correctly identified the Holiday killer. Riddle that out! If you like The Godfather and Batman, Long Halloween is a no brainer, and even if you only like one of the two, I sitll recommend you pick it up.
NOTE: The girlfriend that gets you a graphic novel (trade paperback?) for Valentine’s Day really understands and accepts you!
MORE IMAGES FROM LONG HALLOWEEN:
I’ve created a few companion posts to go along with my reviews: a rating system and a spoiler alert warning. Now, I’m ready to take it a step further and explain what I mean when I reference Act 1, Act 2 or Act 3 in a review.
When I say ‘drama,’ I’m not just referring to a specific genre; all stories have drama. When I reference an ‘Act,’ I understand your mind may immediately jump to theater, but the three act system of story structure is relevant to all mediums. In the simplest terms, Act 1 is the beginning, Act 2 is the middle and Act 3 is the end. Each act has to accomplish specific goals:
ACT 1: you meet all of the characters and learn about the central conflict that drives the story.
EXAMPLE: In Batman Begins, we meet Bruce Wayne, Rachel Dawes, Alfred Pennyworth and other characters and learn about the central conflict that drives the movie: Bruce’s parents were murdered in front of him when he was a child. To reconcile this conflict, Bruce becomes Batman and begins working on bringing justice to Gotham City’s criminal underworld.
ACT 2: the main character(s) is thrust into the worst possible situation they could be in.
EXAMPLE: Batman Begins – Bruce’s house is burned down, all the criminals break out of jail and Ra’s al Ghul is going to release his fear toxin on Gotham City.
ACT 3: the main character gets out of the horrible situation.
EXAMPLE: Batman Begins - Batman beats Ra’s al Ghul and is confident that they’ll pick up the remaining criminals still at large. Bruce begins rebuilding his house.
It’s that simple: conflict, conflict inside of conflict, resolution. Let’s try it again, but this time with a comedy:
The 40 Year Old Virgin
ACT 1: Andy is a lonely and in some ways juvenile man and at 40, has never had sex. To address this conflict, Andy starts dating and meets Trish, who he quickly falls for. Although Andy hides his virginity from Trish, they decide to wait 30 dates before having sex.
ACT 2: Trish and Andy fight when Trish attempts to initiate sex and Andy is still afraid and hasn’t told her he’s a virgin. When she arrives at his apartment, she finds a box filled with pornography that she assumes is Andy’s property and Trish is angrier still and storms out.
ACT 3: Andy reveals to Trish that he’s a virgin and not some pornographic crazed psycho killer. Andy and Trish get married and have sex, ending Andy’s virginity.
A good story should have characters that grow and change throughout the story. As the conflict resolves, they’re not the people they were when the story began; this is because what happened in Act 2 was so stressing that they had to react to it in Act 3, hence they come out different on the other side.
Hope this was helpful!