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Monthly Archives: April 2011

Jesus Christ Superstar Movie Review – Easter Style – The Worst Movies Ever

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A trophy of sadness.

NOTE:  I’M NOT BOTHERING TO PUT UP THE SPOILER ALERT NOTICE FOR THIS MOVIE…  IT’S NEARLY 40 YEARS OLD AND IT’S ADAPTED FROM THE MOST FAMOUS PARTS OF THE BIBLE, SO ODDS ARE, YOU PROBABLY ALREADY KNOW THE STORY.  Also, be warned – I had to bring the profanity to this post.  It couldn’t be helped.

Passover got its due, now it’s Easter’s turn – except I think we can all agree that Easter is getting the worst of it.  In fact, Jesus Christ Superstar (1973 version) is more like a few weeks after Easter when you find some of those hard boiled eggs you so painstakingly colored and forgot about, tucked away in the fridge behind one of those unnecessarily huge jars of Miracle Whip.  Hence, JCS earns my award for The Worst Movie Ever, Movies About Religion Category – it probably also deserves to be the worst musical ever, but I’m saving that one for now.

If you made it through that entire clip, you’re a stronger person than I am.  But if you made it through even some of that clip, the first question on your mind was probably, “What the fuck is this?”  I’m betting the second question was, “Why?”  I bet it was also the third, fourth and fifth questions  you thought of, too.  Why ask why?  Where to begin…

  • Why are people singing boisterously about the death of Jesus?
  • Why do the guys crucifying Jesus appear to be stereotypically gay construction workers?
  • Why is that cross fade on Jesus so awkward? 
  • Why does the camera keep cutting like that?  What’s with the dancing spot lights in the background?  What’s with the half naked  dancers?  And why do they keep multiplying?  Where the hell do they keep coming from?  Who directed this piece of shit?  Norman Jewison, which is strange, because he directed good movies, too.  So why does Jesus Christ Superstar suck so bad?  Probably for the same reason that after Al Pacino’s rousing “You’re out of order!”  speech from ...And Justice For All ends on a freeze frame.
  • Why do the lyrics run out of steam after just one verse?  “Do you think you’re what they say you are?”  Uhm, you really think the guy who said, “…if you refuse to believe in me, at least believe in the work I do” had doubts?
  • Really, you cast a black guy as Judas?  Really?  And he rode into the scene on a cross?
  • This song is at least a minute two long.

Ugh.  And that’s just four minutes out of the movie.

For me, the most important ‘why’ question that needs answering is, why would you want to make a musical out of the passion play?  Aren’t there some topics that just don’t translate from the page to a full blown musical?  I say yes, and this is one of them.

This movie is terrible.  The fake opera dialogue is terrible, the lyrics are terrible, the choreography is terrible, the directing is terrible, the music is terrible and for the love of Jesus, couldn’t they get a better actor to play Jesus?  But it must have been tough – he’s written so poorly.  But then, sometimes, just for fun, the director steps in to make things worse:  fast forward to 3:50 at the previous clip…  if you dare.  “Just watch me die!”  You got that right.

I want to make it perfectly clear that this is not an attack on Jesus, the Bible, Christianity or religion.  This is a verbal attack on Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice, Norman Jewison, Melvyn Bragg and anyone else who had anything to do with this terrible, terrible movie musical.  In fact, Christians should be outraged at how awful this is – they should collect and destroy all copies of this awfulness and ask YouTube to take this abomination off their servers.  If you want to see a movie about Jesus, stick with King of Kings.  That’s how it’s done.  “Love your neighbor as you love yourself,” that’s it – that’s where it’s at – not this, “Who are you, What have you sacrificed/Do you think you’re what they say you are?” nonsense the show’s title song repeats over and over and over and over and over and over!

Oh and one more thing – obviously when it comes to movies about Jesus, King of Kings is the best, but to take it a step further, that movie ends at the logical closure point – after the resurrection of Jesus!  If you must have a musical about the end of Jesus’ life, couldn’t you end it with the resurrection instead of the crucifixion?  If you were going to sing about any part of Jesus’ life, would that be the part?  I just don’t get it.  Jesus Christ Superstar is one of the worst movies ever.

(Oh, and the play sucks too – I only worked on it for about two weeks, but it was my own personal Vietnam and was a direct cause of the end of my career in technical theater.  It’s that bad.  I was thinking, “If these are the kind of shows I’m going to have to work on to stay in this business, then forget it.”)

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Prince of Egypt Movie Review – Passover Style

As we’re in the midst of Passover, I thought now would be an appropriate time to take a look back at 1998’s The Prince of Egypt.

NOTE:  I’M NOT BOTHERING TO PUT UP THE SPOILER ALERT NOTICE FOR THIS MOVIE… IT’S OVER 10 YEARS OLD AND IT’S ADAPTED FROM THE BOOK OF EXODUS, SO ODDS ARE, YOU’RE PROBABLY ALREADY FAMILIAR WITH THIS STORY.

Before I get to into The Prince of Egypt, I think I should disclose that I’m not much of a fan when it comes to musicals.  You know what I find so weird about musicals?  People spontaneously burst into song and choreographed dance, that’s what.  Besides that, it feels like all musicals are adopted from original source material and the story suffers for it.  Perhaps the most seamless transition from book to movie musical is The Wizard of Oz, but the movie still leaves a lot of the book on the cutting room floor.  However, if you were a movie producer way back when and somebody handed you this fantastical book and wanted to make a movie about it, you’d be right to do it.  There is plenty of wackiness in Oz already, why not ad some singing and dancing?  It’s already weird as it is, and making it weirder isn’t going to be much of a problem – anyway, that’s what the guy in the talking lion costume said.  I still remember the first time I saw a poster for the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde musical – having read the book, I was shocked.  “What could they possibly find to sing about?”  I wondered.  I imagined a moment where he broke the forth wall and explained to the audience what it was like to go back and forth between being Jekyll and Hyde in a rousing number I called, “Duel of the Fates” – what?  There’s already a tune by that name in Star Wars?  Oh well.  Let’s just set the words to that tune:  “First I’m Jekyll, a kindly doctor; Then I’m Hyde, a hideous monster!  Korah! Matah! Korah! Rahtahmah!”

In my mind, singing about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde doesn’t work, so you can imagine how I feel about turning elements from The Bible/Torah into musicals (take that, Andrew Lloyd Weber) – but really, why sing at all?  Does anything do more to take away the seriousness of a subject then adding song and dance?  If you’re working on the premise of ‘slavery is bullshit,’ do you really want some asshole to start dancing around, singing some ridiculous song about it?

I just don’t get it.  Who’s bright idea was it to adapt The Book of Exodus into a musical?

from Wikipedia:
The idea for the film came about at the formation of DreamWorks, when the three partners, Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen, were meeting in Spielberg’s living room.

Oh.

I thought then and I still believe now that the decision to do an animated musical version of the Exodus story is because they were thinking that there was no other way to get the audience to take it seriously.  And you know what the worst part is?  It’s actually a pretty entertaining movie.

Despite the fact that the movie is a musical and adopts its story from a book of The Bible/The Torah (…uhm… I guess you get to pick depending on your religion… and if you’re neither Jewish nor Christian, I guess you can just say it’s based on Judeo -Christian lore), it’s a pretty good piece of film making.  Aside from the aforementioned “Playing With The Big Boys,” the songs are decent, and “All I Ever Wanted,” is very well done, both musically and visually.  In fact, they really directed their ass off – and when I say ‘they,’ I do mean theyBrenda Chapman, Steve Hickner and Simon Wells are all credited with directing the movie on IMDB…  maybe animated movies always have multiple directors, but I don’t know.

Then there’s the cast:  prince_of_egypt_movie_poster

Val Kilmer as Moses/God

Ralph Fiennes as Rameses II

Michelle Pfeiffer as Tzipporah

Sandra Bullock as Miriam

Jeff Goldblum as Aaron

Patrick Stewart as Pharaoh Seti I  (“Engage!”)

Danny Glover as Jethro

Helen Mirren as Queen Tuy

Steve Martin as Hotep

Martin Short as Huy

Val Kilmer takes on a double role as both Moses and God – how’s that for a resume?  The worst part of the movie is Jeff Goldblum as Aaron, who makes no attempt whatsoever to act and hide his Jeff Goldblumishness – his character’s tone sounds so out of place with everyone else in the film, and it’s hard to blame the directors for this because this movies was made way back when Jeff Goldblum being Jeff Goldblum was a big deal.  As an actor, he needed to suck less, but he couldn’t be bothered.  Otherwise, the cast does a fine job.

The movie didn’t really win any awards, though – it pretty much got it’s ass kicked by The Iron Giant in the Annie Awards, but rightly so – The Iron Giant is an amazing original film, while The King of Egypt is simply a solid movie, no more, no less.  Is it worth seeing?  I suppose so – if you want to get your Passover on in animated musical form.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Mint OREO Fudge Cremes Are Vegan

Mint OREO Fudge Cremes Are Vegan

Bless the good people at Nabisco.

I love cookies, and I particularly like chocolate mint cookies.  Since I’ve been a vegan, I haven’t been able to come by that holy grail of snack… until last night.

Yes, the Mint OREO Fudge Cremes are vegan and they’re AWESOME.  I wasn’t expecting them to be vegan; when one sees the word ‘fudge,’ this is usually a read flag, but I read the back, and sure enough, they passed the test.  I handed the package to my girlfriend for a double-check.  “What am I missing here?” I asked her,because I still didn’t believe the cookies could possible be vegan.  But nothing escapes her eyes, and she confirmed it:  vegan chocolate mint cookies.

Like all oreos (as far as I know), the Mint OREO Fudge Cremes have that resealable top opening, but to take it a step farther, you have this executive cookie tray inside that gives each cookie its own individual home.  Maybe this is excessive packaging, or maybe the cookies are just fragile…  but I don’t care.  The cookies are awesome!

Sure, there are the proper Mint Oreos, and I like those very much, but they just weren’t what I was looking for to satisfy my particular need for a chocolate mint cookie in the tradition of the Girl Scout’s thin mints or Keebler’s Grasshopper.  (Yes, my knowledge of chocolate mint cookies is second to none!)  Mint OREO Fudge Cremes, however, are getting it done for me.

If you’re vegan, this is a no brainer.  If you like cookies, I highly recommend you give them a try – and even if you don’t, pick up a bag every once in a while anyway because I’m paranoid they’ll stop making them.

The Worst Movies Ever: Mission To Mars

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Wost Movie Ever: Mission to Mars (Science Fiction Category)

When you talk about great film makers, you’d be remiss to leave out Brian De Palma.  If you take a look at the guy’s resume, you’ll see a significant amount of excellent movies (Scarface, The Untouchables, and Mission: Impossible just to name a few), but there are a few blemishes.  Today, we’ll take a look at his biggest failure, Mission to Mars, which is receiving my own personal notice for the Worst Movie Ever in the Science Fiction category.

That’s an achievement in itself, right?  There are sooooo many bad science fiction movies that it would be easy to pick out a score of awful ones… Space Truckers springs to mind (one of those weird movies where Dennis Hopper is the bad guy… or maybe not, he’s at least in the movie… maybe I’m thinking of Water World, or Super Mario Bros.), but I give that a pass because it’s obviously a B movie that was made by nobody and features nobody but Hopper, so you know it’s going to bad right away – and Space Truckers only cost $25 million (which I know sounds like a lot of money, but for a science fiction movie, it’s not), and Mission to Mars cost $100 million.  Somehow, the movie managed to gross nearly $111 million, so Touchstone Pictures didn’t get wrecked by a colossal failure, but it was a close one.  There’s also the fact that there was so much premium talent involved in Mission to Mars, and yet it still sucks.  HARD.

Is it just me, or is the trailer fairly intriguing?  The disconnect between a well cut trailer and shizzy movie is vast – I saw this movie in the theater;  People were audibly groaning.  It was rough.  It’s the closest I’ve ever seen a movie audience come to rioting.  It’s that bad.

Directing:
mission_to_mars worst science fiction movie everMission to Mars is paced like a college graduation – it drags endlessly.  The movie opens with this long crane shot that establishes the barbecue at Don Cheadle‘s house; pay attention, film students, because it’s the very definition of unnecessary.  There’s another boring ass crane shot that lasts forever inside their space vehicle which might have been interesting if it wasn’t done poorly and I hadn’t already seen it in 2001:  A Space Odyssey.  When I say it was done poorly, I don’t mean technically, I mean it just wasn’t well planned; you don’t know what you’re looking at or why you should care or what the focus is of the shot or the scene.  It’s just a big piece of shiz.  As the movie goes on, the pacing problems become an epidemic… the editing is often atrocious and individual shots last about twice as long as they should (something you need to look at for 3 seconds stays on the screen for 10 seconds – note the scene during which  Gary Sinise is watching Tim Robbins and Connie Nielsen dance in the space vehicle), but the editing is just strange.  I kept thinking, “Why am I still looking at this?”  And then they’d cut to something else, and then back to the thing I just stared at forever – the scene when they fire the radar at the mountain and the ‘security system’ activates is a good example of this.  Why are they just standing there, waiting to get their ass kicked?!?  Run, damn it!  It’s the editing, and it’s terrible – if they had edited it in a way that made it seem as though the whole thing happened too fast for them to get away, the scene would have been a lot more plausible.  Oh and the alien looked like shiz – this movie came out in 2000, so the bar for digital characters set by The Phantom Menace was not reached – not even close.

Screenplay/Story:
The dialogue is effing atrocious!  I don’t think it’s because three people wrote the screen play (Jim Thomas, John Thomas, Graham Yost), because all of the characters speak in exactly the same way.  It’s pretty hard to write dialogue for the purpose of exposition, and if you want to know how not to do it, this is a good movie to check out.  The dialogue concerning the death of Jim’s (Sinise) wife is particularly bad every single time it rears its head – and it comes up about a thousand different times during the first hour of the movie.  There’s also the scenes when they’re eon their way to rescue Luke (Cheadle); I know they’ve been on a space craft for six months and they’re excited to go to Mars, but they’re surprisingly fun-loving and even downright silly.

Action movies have a format, and I can accept that.  You need an action beat – something needs to happen, explode, punch somebody in the face! – I’ve heard people say as often as every ten pages.  I guess they decided they needed another action scene, because as the rescue mission is approaching Mars, they have to deal with a hull breach that comes from… where, I don’t know.  Somehow, the hull got breached.  Ultimately, this leads to the destruction of their ship and the death of Woody (Tim Robbins), who sacrifices himself so they won’t try to save him once he decides that he is beyond being saved.  His wife is upset about this (yeah, members of the crew are married – seems like a good idea)… for about two minutes.  The rest of the movie, it’s like it never happened; especially for her.  This is bad writing.  They story also makes note that Jim (Sinise) is a great pilot, but we never see him pilot anything – including the REMO (REsupply MOdule) that he flies from Mars orbit to the surface.  That sounds hard, right?  The damn thing looks like a satellite rather than a space craft, but he somehow safely guided it through the atmosphere to the planet’s surface.  It sounds impossible and, more than that, like a great spectacle for a movie.  But is it in the movie?  No.  Guess what else isn’t in the movie – when Luke’s (Cheadle) crew first lands on Mars.  So what we’ve got here is a movie called Mission to Mars where we never see a space craft land on Mars, never see mankind take its first step on a new world, never have a science fiction recreation of the most famous moment in space travel when Niel Armstrong made his immortal statement…  nothing.  They just put, “6 Months Later,” up on the screen.

That’s just beautiful.

Acting:
I think De Palma’s only direction to the actors must have been, “Just be really stoic, all the time – only show emotion when it’s absolutely necessary, like if you’re dying or somebody else is – and even then, reign it in.”  Still, it’s hard to understand how so many good actors could turn in such boring, flat performances as they each demonstrate the emotional range of a tea spoon during immensely stressful situations in nearly every scene of the movie.  At least Terri (Connie Nielsen) cries when her husband Woody (Robbins) dies…  for a minute or so.  Once they get to Mars, she’s all business.

annette-bening-Connie-Nielsen

For some reason, I get the feeling they wanted Annette Bening for this role and settled for Connie Nielsen.

Soundtrack:
Yeah, the effed up the sound track, too.  Ennio Morricone‘s music is either totally inappropriate for the scene or is badly misused.  He made weird choices… during the hull breach scene, there’s all this organ stuff going on.  It doesn’t fit at all.

Half-Ass Remake of 2001?

Yep, that’s pretty much what it is.  And while 2001:  A Space Odyssey is long on style and kinda short on story, it’s a gripping film from start to finish.  Mission to Mars is a boring piece of shiz that is fortunately less than two hours.

From start to finish, Mission to Mars is an ineffective disappointment that entertains no one.  So if you have a serious hankering for Mars, I’d say stick to Mission:  Space at EPCOT – coincidentally, the ride is also hosted by Gary Sinise.

Why You Should Like The CreativeJamie.com Facebook Page

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Facebook is one of those things I have gone back and forth, changed my stance or all together reevaluated my feelings for.  It’s fun to share, but there are privacy concerns.  I like keeping in touch, but I don’t want to spill my guts for everybody on the internet.

As far as I can tell, the current privacy controls at Facebook are pretty good – nevertheless, I removed nearly all of the pictures from my personal account.  I do log in on the personal side to see what folks are up to (probably 1 to 2 times a week), but I don’t post much there.

The CreativeJamie.com Facebook Page is another matter entirely.

The purpose of the CreativeJamie.com Facebook Page is two fold:  first, to alert you to new posts on CreativeJamie.com; second, to pass along stuff I’ve found on the net that I think is worth a look or a read.  While I would consider posting such links here… eh, it’s kind of a pain in the butt to do so, where as at Facebook (as you well know), posting a link takes only seconds.

I hope you will ‘like’ (join, whatever the vernacular is on Facebook these days) the CreativeJamie.com Facebook page.  It’s a great way to let me know that you like the site – and if you do like the writing here, you’ll probably like the stuff I find on other sites.

Click here to visit the CreativeJamie.com Facebook page.

CreativeJamie.com Facebook Page FAQ

What sort of links get posted to the CreativeJamie.com Facebook Page?
The newest postings from CreativeJamie.com as well as other links from sites that I think are of note.

What sort of non-CreativeJamie.com links get posted to the CreativeJamie.com Facebook Page?
Again, it’s a catch-all for pages I like.  I have my usual haunts on the net:  Cracked, the New York Times, baseball sites – but I wander off into the Ethernet yonder every once and a while, and sometimes, peeps send me stuff to peep (see what I did there?!? [smiley face] ), and when it’s quality, I like to pass it along.  As with outbound links here at CreativeJamie.com, the same applies to The CreativeJamie.com Facebook Page.

I’m not going to hijack your news feed.
You don’t have to worry about that – I’m not going to go all Conan O’Brien on you (although I do love me some Conan); in fact, I doubt there would be a post every day of any sort – new CreativeJamie.com blog or otherwise.

Should I ‘like’ CreativeJamie.com or friend you personally?
It’s really your call, but it makes more sense to ‘like’ CreativeJamie.com.  Friend-ing me on Facebook will no doubt be both  a boring and confusing experience.

4 Sequels To Jim Carrey Movies That Don’t Star Jim Carrey

sequels-to-jim-carey-movies-dumb-and-dumberer-son-of-the-mask-evan-almighty-ace-ventura-jrI can’t think of a crazier idea than making a sequel (or prequel) to a movie where the actor in the title role doesn’t return for the next film in the series.  Why would you even make the movie, and who’d want to see a movie like that anyway?  Judging by the grosses, nobody.

Dumb and Dumberer:  When Harry Met Llyod
This piece of crap stars (and I use that term loosely) Derek Richardson, Eric Christian Olsen and Eugene Levy, during his ill-advised teen comedy phase.  This piece of crap cost $19 million, but it brought in over $39 million, so it made money for its investors, but considering the original cost $17 million and made $247,275,104, it’s easy to see how far the apple fell from the tree.

Son of the Mask
See, I didn’t think the first Mask was very good, and this is going back to when I saw it in the theater when I was twelve or whatever.  This movie also begs the question, who in the hell would want to see a movie starring Jamie Kennedy and Alan Cumming?  Nobody, that’s who.  This flaming pile of excrement rang up a total of $84 million and earned only $57 million.  The original only cost $23 million and earned $351 million; I guess those animated effects in the first one were much cheaper than the digital effects in the sequel.  You can’t feel bad for anybody who lost money on this one; what were they thinking?

Evan Almighty
Only the most unusual set of circumstances and coincidences brought me to the theater to see Evan Almighty, which wasn’t that bad, actually…  except there was no Jim Carey.  Not a cameo, no nothing.   However, we did get Steve Carell, Morgan Freeman, John Goodman, Lauren Graham, Wanda Sykes, John Michael Higgins and Jonah Hill to round out the cast, so not too shabby.  It’s watchable, I’ll say that much for it.  However, this movie cost a fortune – a ton of digital effects…  I don’t know what they were thinking.  The movie costs $200 million to make – did they really think they had a chance in heave or hell to make that back?  Gross revenue checks in at $173,418,781 – swing and a miss.  Meanwhile, Bruce Almighty costed $81 million and earned $484 million.

Ace Ventura Jr.
I can’t find any revenue numbers on this plane laden with rubber dog shit out of Hong Kong because it made its debut on Cartoon Network, during which I sat through five random minutes of the film and almost immediately lost my lunch.  Just because a TV show or a movie is made for kids doesn’t mean it has to be the worst thing ever written.  You’d assume that this project was aimed at a theatrical release with the idea being that people who saw the original Ace Venture movies would take their kids to see this movie, but it was such a volcanic eruption of manure that they hid the damn thing on Cartoon Network – and that reminds me, the opening sequence of the first Ace Venture features Ace stealing a woman’s dog from her ex boyfriend and returning it to the dog’s owner, who, instead of rewarding him with a cash payment, pleasures him…  to hilarious results, I guess.

So what did we learn here?  If you’re making a sequel to a Jim Carey movie, you should probably try to your damnedest to retain Jim Carey to star in the movie.  If you can’t, it seems like it would be a HUGE MISTAKE to double the budget of the original movie.  You end up with a movie that has no star power and a poorly written script that just rehashes a bunch of crap the audience has already seen and probably didn’t think was that great in the first place.

You know, like when Jim Carey made Yes Man, which was an awful lot like Liar, Liar.

Jim Halpert’s Sister Models Snorg Tees

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The resemblance is uncanny!

I’m just saying… Read the rest of this entry

NO Jazz Fest

NO Jazz Fest?  Got that right.

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Fist to pop onto the site: Arcade Fire. Very Jazzy!
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I kept waiting for jazz...

It might be of passing interest to note that the New Orleans Jazz Fest doesn’t seem to headline any jazz artists.  Don’t believe me?  Check out their website and watch the Jazz Fest Headliners image refresh a few times.

The artists load as follows:  Arcade Fire, Bon Jovi, Jimmy Buffett, Kid Rock, John Mellancamp, Wilco, The Neville Brothers (Wikipedia describes them as an American R&B and Soul group; close, not exactly jazz, but at least they’re from New Orleans) and so on.  See the complete list here.

Seriously?  Lauren Hill is also on the roster…  are any of the headliners jazz artists?  It looks like the answer is no – that’s eight different artists appearing at Jazz Fest, and I haven’t found a jazz artist yet, so I give up.  I don’t feel like this is akin to going to a flea market and complaining about a lack of fleas – it shouldn’t be this hard to find the thing you’re looking for when it’s name is in the title of the damn event!

Adding to the irony, the website is ‘nojazzfest.com‘ – sure, i know the ‘n’ and the ‘o’ stand for ‘New Orleans,’ but its funny that it reads ‘no jazz fest’ as it seems to be a festival that offers very little in the way of jazz.  Maybe they were going for a roster of musical artists who are fans of jazz rather than those that actually play jazz?  I’m no jazz expert, but maybe they could bring in somebody like John Pizzarelli or maybe David Sanborn… he counts as jazz, right?  Are either of those guys going to be there?  I don’t see them on the master list, so probably not – their music sounds too much like jazz!  More than likely, artists who are solicited to participate at Jazz Fest are probably chosen based on their ability to sell tickets rather than their musical style, and I don’t have any problem with that, but just don’t call the festival JAZZ FEST!

image at right: I kept waiting for a jazz artist to pop up, but I had to give up after a while.  Bon Jovi?  Are they effing kidding me?  With each new image, I died a little bit more inside.

Time Travelling Through The Eyes Of Harry Potter, Mr. Scott and Marty McFly

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Ever travel through time?  Me neither.  (Forgetting to ‘spring ahead’ or ‘fall back’ does not count.)  I have, however, watched a significant number of movies where time travel rears it’s head, and scientific questions ensue.  To answer said questions, I turned to three of the best relative theory minds I could find.

(I couldn’t get a hold of Keanu Reeves or Albert Einstein; Einstein’s LAN line has been busy for like an hour, he doesn’t have a cell and Keanu is busy talking up Bill and Ted 3…  ugh.  But yeah, if you need more information about time travel, I would consult one of those dudes.)

So, how does one travel through time, and if one does, are there consequences?  Let’s ask the experts: Read the rest of this entry

Captain America’s 70th Birthday Party

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"This analogy will have to do."

It’s the 70th anniversary of the publishing of the first issue of Captain America, and Marvel Comics is partying it up!  And by ‘partying,’ I mean they’re releasing an INSANE number of one shots and mini series as well as reprints and commemorative issues of Captain America – not to mention the Captain America movie.

Imagine that instead of releasing a bunch of comics that aren’t necessary in terms of story arc pertaining to Captain America (or the Marvel Universe overall) in any shape of the imagination, Marvel Comics hosted a birthday party dinner instead, but served up the same level of quality in terms of food as they are with this March’s comics.  The main course would probably be a McDonalds Angus Wrap (looks like poop), a Dunkin Donuts cup of coffee (makes you have to poop) and for desert: dog poop (actual poop) – you’d say, “Wow, Marvel sure is serving up a big pile of shiz here,” and you’d be right.

Marvel seems to have decided it needs to do some kind of event that would coincide with a major story arc and the release of many ‘special’ issues every year, which sounds like a great idea, but in my experience, they’ve been largely unsatisfying – not to be confused with DC’s Return of Bruce Wayne “event,” which was just as uninteresting as Marvel’s events.  During last year’s Daredevil “event” entitled Shadowland, I did a good job of picking up the bear minimum of books necessary to understand what was going on.  During Marvel’s Siege event, I wasn’t so smart, and I bought a bizillion books  that were all a huge waste of my time, Vantage Point style – I’m looking at you, Siege:  Embedded.  Now this isn’t the same situation; a bunch of unrelated Captain America one-shots is not the same as a multi-limited series event, but it’s not far off – particularly when it coincides with the end of the Captain America limited series “The Korvac Saga,” “Man Out of Time” and the near end of “Hail Hydra.”  The insanity that has been the release of Captain America titles in March has been a big problem for specifically me because Cap has always been my favorite comic book character, and I have a hard time not buying everything he’s in.

 

captain america comic books from march 2011

And this isn't everything that Cap was in that was published in March 2011.

Rather than analyze each one-shot or limited series, it’d be faster to just say that any issues NOT heralding themselves as being written by Ed Brubaker pretty much suck; but, to at least do a half ass review of everything at once, I’ve group the comics into one of three categories:

The Good

  • The reprint of Captain America Comics #1
    • featuring cases 1 through 4 – classic stuff by the inventors of the character themselves, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.  It looks like the cover has been redrawn (but Cap is still punching Hitler in the face and Bucky is still saluting, so it’s a tribute, not a re-imagining) as well as maybe some help with the coloring and inking on the interior of the book.
  • Captain America 615.1
    • This picks up right where we left off in issue 614; Bucky is in prison in Russia and a new Captain America has shown up, and he’s going to get himself killed if Steve doesn’t do something about it.  It’s Ed Brubaker writing Cap; you can’t go wrong!
  • Captain America 616 (70th Anniversary Issue)
    • Love that they used that classic drawing of Cap for the Table of Contents page; why they couldn’t list the features in order, I don’t know.  Why we needed 7 individual features instead of just one big feature, I also fail to understand.
    • First Feature:  “Gulag”  Again, picking up right where we left off in 614, we get to see Bucky in Russia, dealing with prison life.  Written by Brubaker, so it’s all good.  Travis Charest’s art is great.
    • Second Feature:  “Must There Be A Captain America?”  Steve is trying to figure out what to do with himself as he explores the inner conflict concerning his desire to serve his country, but not necessarily as a symbol.   Again, written by Brubaker, so it’s all good.  Ed McGuinness’ art is not my favorite style, but well done.
    • Third Feature:  “Opaque Shadows”  Howard Chaykin writes and draws a story from Cap’s days in World War 2… it’s not bad.  It’s not great either.
    • Fourth Feature:  “Spin”  Cullen Bunn writes and Jason Latour draws a feature that reminiscent of the writing style of Mark Gruenwald on his best day.  It’s a decent little story.
    • Fifth Feature:  “Operation:  Tooth Fairy”  Mike Benson and Paul Grist combine on another ‘daring days of World War 2’ story, but this time, featuring Baron Blood, a Nazi agent I wish Marvel would leave on the cutting room floor.  LAME.  Art is awful – you can say they made a style choice,but it just looks lazy to me.
    • Sixth Feature:  “The Exhibit”  Frank Tieri writes and Paul Azaceta draws (and this guy can really draw) on a story about one of the many clones of Hitler that wander around the Marvel Universe.  This was actually well done, and I enjoyed it.
    • Seventh Feature:  “Crossfire”  Captain America and Union Jack trying to hold a village in France during World War II.  It’s a decent little story.  Great art by Pepe Larraz; writing by Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel is pretty good

The Bad

  • Ultimate Captain America #3
    • This has been going poorly from the start, and the fact that they can’t get Frank Simpson’s character design right on the cover is a indication of the crappyness within.
      • Actually, I hate to pick on this issue, because issue 3 has been the best yet, but overall, Ultimate Captain America is a failure in my eyes – they’ve got the character all wrong… until this issue, that is.  Ron Garney’s art is impressive, though, and Jason Aaron is getting better every time out, so I have hopes that this title might end up being decent.
  • Captain America:  Hail Hydra!  (#3 of 5)
    • The covers are great, and it’s a little too soon to see where they’re going with the end game, but this has been disappointing so far, and I’m not expecting it to redeem itself any time soon.  It reminds me a lot of Invaders Now! but not nearly as interesting, but equally lame.  At least I wanted to see how Invaders Now! ended, even if it was stupid, but this is just barely holding my attention.  Note to self:  limited series are usually bad.
  • Captain America and Batroc The Leaper
    • Read Pile Thoughts:  After flipping though this issue, it looks like Cap (Bucky) is in most of the issue.  The second feature is a reprint of Tales of Suspense #85, as the main feature is looking like it’s on the short side.
      • I’ve read this now, and this was ok… but again, not enough Captain America, but I guess I should count myself lucky that Cap was in the issue at all.
  • Captain America:  Man Out of Time (#5 of 5)
    • Read Pile Thoughts:  Lame cover art.  However, this series has been decent.  It makes you wonder if any of this story line is going to end up in the second solo Captain America movie…
      • I’ve read this now, and this was actually a semi-satisfying mini series, despite the rush at the end – I think if this was a sixth issue, they could have developed the Kang story and maybe done something special here, but it didn’t happen.

The Downright Insultingly Hideous Fug-Ugly

  • Captain America and Crossbones (one shot)
    • Uhm, guys, you forgot to put Captain America in this issue.  Neither Steve Rogers nor Bucky Barnes makes any appearance of any kind in this issue.  I don’t know what else to say, except that I’d like my money back.  When I buy a comic that says “Captain America” on the front, I expect to get Captain America, damn it!
  • Captain America and the Falcon (one shot)
    • Again, for the most part, you folks at Marvel forgot to put Captain America in this issue.  WTF.  Just WTF.
  • Captain America and the First Thirteen (one shot)
    • It’s poorly written and the art is… I don’t know, done in water colors, maybe… it just doesn’t work.
  • Captain America:  The Korvac Saga  #4 of 4
    • I don’t think they knew where they were going when they started this, because issue 1 and 2 were OK, but 3 and 4 were a waste of my time and money.
  • Captain America and the Secret Avengers (one shot)
    • Read Pile Thoughts:  I just flipped through it and it looks like Cap is only in the first two or three pages, if that.  Again, WTF.
    • Now that I’ve read this issue… holy hell, is it bad.  The only thing worse than the story telling is the art.  It’s that bad; it’s so bad I can’t even be bothered to break out the nuances of awfulness – anyone and everyone involved in this plot to extort $3.99 from me should be ashamed of themselves.  In other words, it’s bad.  I think A Comic Book Blog put it best:  “If you’re a Cap or Black Widow completist, you’ll likely buy this anyway, but if you’re looking for a nice little book starring two fairly fun characters to read, then you might like this book.  However, don’t expect this to become a series or move mountains.”  That’s exactly who I am:  a Captain America completist, and I let Marvel exploit that sad sickness when I purchased the Captain America and the Secret Avengers one shot.  In a way, I’ll never be whole again…  (Look, this issue was so bad that it’s worth of this level of sarcasm!)

On the read pile:

note: as I read issues, I moved them from this category and moved them up to their spots above – hence, this post has been updated several times.

  • Secret Avengers #11
    • On the cover, Steve Rogers is wearing the Captain America uniform…  but that doesn’t mean anything like that happens on the insides.  Comics rarely have stories that are indicative of what’s on the cover these days.
      • It’s a flash back issue, and it’s a good one – but no, what happens on the cover never happens in the book.  Shocking.

Under normal circumstances, I would conclude this post with a rant about how I can’t take it anymore, that there is such a thing as too much of my favorite character, but most likely, March is an aberration, and I’m never going to deal with a 13 issue month of Captain America again  – and I didn’t even count The Avengers because Steve Rogers isn’t in that book at all; Bucky is still Captain America there, for now.  I do think this is a ridiculous onslaught; a 70th anniversary celebration turned into an awful marketing scheme to sell more comic books, and I fell for it.  But you won’t find any parting swears or vows to stop buying Cap books – first, because I love Cap and I can’t, and secondly, it’s not like this is Batman, and Marvel does this every single month! I’ll let Marvel slide for now, but I’ve got my eye on ya’ll, not to mention this year’s big “event,” Fear Itself, which will have Cap up front and center.  (NOTE:  I also didn’t count the Fear Itself Prologue, which also prominently featured Captain America, also came out this past March.)

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