Sunday, March 30, 2014

Superman: Doomsday (2007):






Superman: Doomsday (2007):

Superman: Is…everyone…safe?

Lois Lane: Yes. You saved us. All of us.

Superman: Good…that’s all that…matters…

All that matters indeed, Superman. Once that Doomsday battle is over, the film slows to a crawl. If you’re expecting Cyborg Superman to show up, or a retelling of “The Death of Superman” comic book storyline, you’ll be disappointed. I was. This version of the story has Superman returning as an “evil clone” created by Luthor. There’s no Steel (Metal Superman!) even! So, basically, if you watched this film, it’s to watch Superman fight Doomsday. That’s it. Once the mystery of the clone is solved, there’s no more dramatic tension left.

Of course, the fight with Doomsday is fantastic. But, that lasts like 5 minutes. Including Doomsday’s arrival. You can tell the fight is intense just by the sounds of each hit. A real super slobber-knocker! Superman is still a man though, and still gets tired. After being dragged through a power station, hit by a subway, and thrown around with a few earth quaking impacts, Superman starts to tire and stagger, while Doomsday does not. It really is like watching the ultimate boxing match. In the end, Metropolis is basically a crater.

Well, that was fun. But, what happens next? Well, not much. After the funeral, Toyman terrorizes the city (Voiced by John Dimaggio! Really, kudos to the voice casting in this movie! Everyone is spot on!) and it looks like Superman has come back, but after it’s revealed only minutes later that this is a clone under Luthor’s control which he gleefully wails on with Kryptonite knuckles, all the excitement goes away. In the original comic, there was more exploration of what people did to carry on his legacy. This is just a dumb clone plot…I honestly preferred the Evil Superman in Superman 3. At least he was the result of a split personality.

Here, when Evil Superman starts threatening old grannies and kills Toyman, it’s just awkward. I will say they did a good job explaining away early 90s Superman’s awful mullet haircut. His robot dug up his unconscious body, so presumably he didn’t have time to cut his hair. The robot is voiced by Tom Kenny! Anyway, to even the odds against his evil clone, Tom Kennybot gives him a Kryptonite gun, and a black solar suit, making him look weirdly gothic. Real Superman wins, of course. With the help of Lois Lane.

Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about this movie. It doesn’t really teach anything, and doesn’t really capture Superman’s legacy. The original comic storyline showed many different sides of Superman, some of which were evil, and some of which were good. It just seems to me that lumping all that into “Evil clone with Luthor’s personality.” is a huge waste. Luthor even ends up in the hospital once the clone becomes paranoid. So, he’s more evil than Luthor. It should’ve at least included Superboy, the good side of Luthor’s clone.

Now, a couple things this film's got right in the end, are the music and the voice acting. The Superman theme here begins from space in the intro, as it usually should. But, does that triumphant music really fit the death of Superman? I know, it’s a Superman movie…but with a title like Doomsday…you know what you’re really getting is that last, or should I say first, fight! Secondly, the voice-acting is stupendous, as I said before. And it does deliver on that Doomsday battle!

Seeing one of the most iconic Superman comic book stories reduced to a one-note doppelganger plot is hugely disappointing. But, it does have redeeming qualities, most of which I’ve listed above. (Voice-acting and music, Doomsday, etc.) It succeeds in a strong presentation of weak ideas. Really, it’s all about that Doomsday battle. Oh, and explaining away that mullet! 2/5 stars. Not very super, but makes you expect it will be. And that’s worse! I mean, you might like it, but like Superman, the film nearly dies after Doomsday.

 


Friday, March 28, 2014

Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher (2014):

Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher (2014):

Black Widow: Don’t kill them, Frank!

Punisher: I have no choice!



    This movie could’ve been so cool, if it were an actual Punisher anime! Instead, it’s an excuse for Black Widow to have a romantic fling with the villain. It starts off kind of cool, where Punisher shoots up a whole room of weapons dealers. But, then, he’s reduced to a tagalong. I’m not kidding. That’s what Nick Fury basically says. You see, because the villain has mind control powers, he needed to have two agents around. And who ends up mind-controlled? Yeah…Punisher.

    To the film’s credit, it does show that Black Widow can go toe-to-toe with Punisher. (Frank Castle). Their fights last about a minute each time…the second time he’s mind-controlled. You see, Punisher is on the heels of a weapons dealer named Kane. Who turns out to be the pawn of a lovesick SHIELD (Elias) Agent who steals SHIELD supersoldier tech to impress Black Widow. He is also the pawn of a Russian terrorist organization. Because that would impress her….invade New York.

     Eventually, the Russians use Elias’s mind control to invade New York with supersoldiers. Much of the movie consists of Black Widow being lovesick with Elias. She can take down Punisher, yes, but is apparently weak in the knees over a random SHIELD scientist who she should’ve just taken down. At least Amadeus Cho is there, a child genius SHIELD Agent who creates a mind shield after Black Widow promises to kiss him. She’s  Punisher with flirting abilities. Win-win!

   And now that Russian supersoldiers are invading New York while Black Widow is being romantic and angsty, The Avengers show up to defend the city! This is one instance in the movie where I did like it better than the movies. Because it’s animation, they have the budget to have all the Avengers show up and do their jobs. Hulk, Iron Man, even Captain Marvel. After all, it is Avengers: Confidential. Gotta have Avengers show up.
   
   In sum, I liked the movie. I liked that they were able to show that Black Widow can kick butt after she was kinda sidelined in The Avengers movie. Unfortunately, this leaves very little time to build up Punisher’s kick butt credibility. I mean, normally he has weapons that fire nukes! But, here he’s regulated to a Hawkeye-type role (I‘m calling it being “Hawkeyed”, from now on!) providing connections to the Russian terrorists, and then being mind controlled. It’s always mind control.

    Mind control aside, I do think It’s a good action film, and they build up Punisher nicely in the beginning. I just wish more superhero movies actually used all their superheroes. Punisher really could’ve been anyone. Anyway, nice to see all The Avengers together in anime form. But, who the heck is Elias? Oh, well. At least Punisher gets some revenge in the end! Go see it! 3/5 stars from me! Worth a watch.





Saturday, March 15, 2014

March 8 2014: VSA Day of Arts For All

                                         Janine Moore's "Orange Groves", 1st Place Emerging Artist


                                                     Henry Hess’s “No Place Like Home”

               (Spartan meets Pyramid Head” by Jonah Farmer.)

If you follow my blog, you know I usually go to The Day of Arts for All on March 8, to report on it. But this year, I was even in it! My piece was called “Pig Head”, which used bright colors and saturation to illustrate a pig head via digital art. Aside from art, there was also some music by Sarah Bellish, a young soloist who uses her experience with disability to write music. A great opportunity to listen to some of the great life experience disability brings, in a soulful way! There were also videos meant to illustrate the experience of disability. The theme of the day seemed  to be representing these perceptive  personal experiences.

 Then the awards came. All who participated got an award. Including me! All the pieces were great, but the two I liked best were Henry Hess’s “No Place Like Home”, showing Dorothy’s ruby slippers, which won third place in the Youth Artist category. 2nd Place in the same category went to a Halo/Silent Hill inspired piece! “Spartan meets Pyramid Head” by Jonah Farmer. 1st place in the same category went to Nathaniel Curtiss of Worthington for Where Miles Davis Recorded The Birth of Cool! A super cool use of perspective! Best in Show was called: “Beautiful Nature Life: Where Everyone Would Like to Be”, a mixed media piece by the team of Wendi Olszewski, Shawnda Osswald, and Stephanie Spencer, depicting a brightly colored rural life.

But, everyone wins in my book, because we all told our stories through art: “Why the pig head?” Someone asked me in front of my piece. “Why not?” I said. The point for me is just to create something that didn’t exist before. The image that jumped out at me in the framework of my color scheme was a pig head. I’m interested in seeing how my mind and experience as a disabled person translates to my creations, as each
artist did through their own perspective. By his/her own experience.

Going back to perspectives, the films Be My Brother is an Australian short film about a man with Down Syndrome who records everything he observes, but he cannot get his brother to record something on the bench with him. He displays a dazzling intelligence, quoting everything from Shakespeare to The Lion King, and even charms a woman who he describes as the “most attractive woman in the world”. The film ends on a bus, with his brother hugging him.    

Sensory Overload is a film from the perspective of an autistic. As such, there is intermittent sound, and sometimes it becomes increasing overwhelming. From the blaring of city sirens to a cashier tapping a pen in a café. Wild colors add to the disorientation, and autistic perspective. The film ends in silence as a woman helps the boy pick up papers he lost from his backpack.

We ended with a comedy called Jazz Hand. In this a Californian woman with a prosthetic hand enters a dance audition. While tap dancing, her hand falls off and the choreographer recoils in exaggerated disgust. She puts her hand back on! But backwards! Lots of big laughs from this one, and nice to see a “disability movie” that is a comedy. “Do you think he noticed?” Asks the dancer. Duh! Yes!

I’m pleased to have been a part of The Day of Arts for all. It was a fun time, and I got to get my art out and look and other people’s art! That’s always a good day for me when I can get positive messages about disability! We are all capable of becoming more than we appear to be. Thanks, VSA! I had a great time.
For a full list of Day of Arts for All winners visit VSA's website: www.vsao.org

                                                     ("Pig Head" by Chris Bowsman.)
                               

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Aquabats! Supershow! Season 1 (2012) Review:



The Aquabats! Supershow! Season 1 (2012) Review:






“Commander, The Aquabats have a moral obligation to help those in need. Even if they are clownbags!”

- Jimmy The Robot to M.C. Bat Commander (The Floating Eye of Death) 

The Aquabats! Supershow! is a comedy superhero show with a cartoon in it! It’s super goofy, and sort of like The Avengers if influenced by Devo. I don’t normally review music, but their music is pretty good too. In the show, they think of themselves as a band first and superheroes second. Which they are. But they have superpowers! Which they seem to be only dimly aware of! Mix the superpowers, goofy plots, and fake infomercials/cartoon interludes, and you’ve got a super fun series to watch! 

As for superpowers, M.C. Bat Commander, their leader, is super determined, sometimes to a funny degree; like when he refuses to say ManAnt’s name correctly. (He calls him MAHNAHNT.) Eaglebones Falconhawk has an invisible Falcon called The Dude, and a guitar that shoots lasers. But, my favorite is Jimmy The Robot, who solves problems through science, and has a variety of robot powers, like laser fingers. True to his robot nature, he likes science, and struggles to understand humanity sometimes. Crash is like Hulk except not a monster. He gets giant-sized when he gets emotional. Ricky Fitness has superspeed, superstrength, and…is fit. 

All this hokey superhero wackiness is interspersed with fake infomercials, (Ren & Stimpy-style!) crazy villains, and weird guest appearances! (Weird Al, Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo, Strong Bad from Homestarrunner.com.) And the Aquabats always learn some cheesy life lesson (“Learning and Growing” segments.), such as eat when you’re hungry, (ManAnt) keep clean (Laundry Day!), or help those in need. (The Floating Eye of Death.) Also, since they’re a band, you also get treated to small goofy musical interludes such as “Burger Rain” and “Doing Science”.

As I said before, it’s a wacky kids show, and it’s got a cartoon in it (which has wonderful animation! I think it‘s anime.) But, there’s also enough jokes to keep adults interested. And the action is just hokey enough to invoke shades of The Power Rangers, or maybe like The Tick. So, it’s very 90s nostalgic. Plus, they are a real Devo-influenced band, so if you have some time, give them a listen! I don’t usually promote music on here, but I like Devo, and superheroes, so I liked it almost instantly. It’s pretty funny!

Overall, The Aquabats! Supershow! is just darn fun. It takes funny and nostalgic concepts and blends them together to make a weird superhero comedy, where the heroes seem only vaguely aware that they are heroes.  They spend entire episodes just trying to make money or have fun before they realize they need to fight a villain. Often in strange ways. For example, to defeat a giant potato bug, (in the episode Pilgrim Boy!) they have a shape shifter turn into a pop star and sing it a sad song until it explodes. Another day for The Aquabats! Season 1 is on Netflix and DVD, (and it’s still running on The Hub!) so check it out if you like good humor, cartoons, superheroes, robots, or any of that! I love it all. 5/5 stars!