Thursday, July 26, 2012

Again, I Get Annoyed With the "Fan Press" (TDKR SPOILERS)

FIRST OFF - NO LIE - SPOILERS FOR The Dark Knight Rises.



Ok, there's this 2-part article over at about where the final moments of The Dark Knight Rises leave us, in terms of the long-term Batman franchise. Yet another example of fanboy supposition and speculation disguised as a legitimate "news" story, because it's on a comic-book news site. Now, let me make this clear...I have no problem with fanboy supposition and speculation. What I have a problem with is that it's presented as a editorial piece by a knowledgeable expert, and it's really just a guy blabbing about what he thinks Warner Brothers should/will do with the Batman Franchise.

What's offensive to me is this: The reason Christopher Nolan's "Dark Knight Trilogy" is likely the best live-action interpretation of the Batman we will ever see, not to mention great works of art, is precisely because Nolan approached the entire arc without worrying about how to nurture a continuing franchise. He aimed, at least from The Dark Knight, to END the Batman story he was telling, about the Batman he created for his films.

(This last point is a HUGE reason why Harry Knowles review of the film over on Ain't It Cool News is so utterly stupid. Nolan's Batman has been talking about "when the time comes that I can hang up this cowl" from the first film...incessantly. To act like him actually having done just that as The Dark Knight Rises opens is being willfully ignorant of the themes that Nolan has been laying out...Honestly, I feel like is has more to do with some slight from Warner Brothers, than anything else. Probably because Hollywood has caught up with the fact that AICN isn't the hot-bed of web activity it once was. You're far to easily read, Harry.)

THIS Batman story, Nolan's Batman story, perhaps THE definitive Batman story, is over. Bruce Wayne has left the cowl behind and found love, peace and happiness, and, Like Kevin Smith, I found this deeply moving. There were tears because, here, finally, our hero who had given so much, who had sacrificed for his city and his fellow citizens, who carried the weight for us all, was given the opportunity to have that weight lifted. From the age of 10, Bruce Wayne was carrying more than any person should be asked to, and here, finally, in the end, God, fate, Allah, whoever, let him put that down.

THAT was the most moving thing in the movie, to me. His virtue was rewarded. Yes, Nolan leaves us with the image of John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) entering the Batcave, and the idea that the mantle of the Bat will be carried forward. Even pointing out minutes earlier that his birth name was Robin John Blake (nice touch), but here's the real thing that pisses me off....


Nolan leaves us with a lyrical, satisfying ending that ties in deeply to the character, and the concept of heroism, on thematic and story levels. It's complete. It's powerful. It's moving. And the first goddamn thing the assembled fanboy brigade can do is start whining about "where do we go from here?" Not in a "wow, I love the questions Nolan left me with" way, but in a "where's my next movie" way.

Nolan has always talked about "the many interpretations of Batman," he understands that every creator puts his mark on the character in ways that the next creator may or may not make use of. This is Nolan's take on a complete Batman epic, unencumbered with bullshit like continuity and shared universes. What we, as fans should take from this is really damn simple....

Continuity, more often than not, hinders storytelling, rather than adding to it.

Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns was NEVER Supposed to tie into the "regular" DC Comics universe. It was Miller's attempt to tell an iconic story about the end of a hero's life, without having to be tied to 10 other books, or what the character was doing in Justice League of America. THAT'S why the story is great. You can say the same about Alan Moore and Brian Bolland's The Killing Joke. The reason these stories are great and live on is because there are no rules, period.

It's only after the fact, when these two stories because so popular, and the fans started clamoring about "how they fit" into the comics they were reading on a monthly basis, that things got fucked up. With various elements from these stories, that weren't supposed to fit in perfectly, being forced into the "regular" books. What DC should've had the balls to do, and I hope Warner Brothers learned the lesson, is say, "they don't. We're looking for someone with a visionary new story to tell about this character, period." I think John Blake taking up the mantle of the Batman, and being the first of a continuing line of defenders of Gotham is fun to turn around in your head, but I don't need, or want, to see a movie about it.

 Plus, I don't think Joseph Gordon-Levitt would be interested without Nolan. I know, speaking as an actor, I wouldn't.

Why? Because that was Nolan's story, and Nolan's made quite clear that he is done with Batman and superheroes. (I would advise all of you to quit thinking that Nolan is hands-on with Man of Steel. His own comments make it pretty clear that he was just there to jump-start production as a favor to David Goyer and Warner Brothers) I don't want to see Darren Aronofsky trying to work inside Nolan's version of Gotham City, I want to see what Aronofsky would build from the ground up. I want to see how David Fincher would tell Batman stories, or Joe Carnahan.

And, yes, those three guys, Aronofsky, Fincher or Carnahan, are my dream directors to carry on the franchise. Not the continuity, but the franchise. They encapsulate audacious film-making with deep understanding of the crime genre. What Nolan understood that, say, Tim Burton didn't, is that "superhero" doesn't have to be a genre. Nolan made epic crime films, that happen to have a superhero in the middle of them.

Now, I'll put on my speculative hat....

My best guess is that we won't see Batman in a movie theatre until Warner Brothers gets a Justice League movie off the ground. It will be an all-new Batman, unconnected to any previous film version, and compatible with a unified DC Comics film universe. This isn't the Superman situation, with a lawsuit forcing Warners into having the Man of Steel on screen, or possibly losing the rights. The sad thing is, that's almost guaranteed to generate a much less distinctive and singular interpretation of the character. It will pale next to Nolan's version. Best case scenario, in my mind, is somebody reads a ton of Grant Morrison's JLA run, and casts Batman as the know-it-all/smartest-guy-in-the-room that was so much fun in those stories.

Frankly, I'm asking the fanbase to just stop. Stop trying to do to these films what you've done to the comics, with the incessant need to know how everything fits together. You've reduced the big two (Marvel and DC) comic companies to shoving out books as pacifiers between the big crossovers that "really matter," but never amount to anything. Every single one of those events promise "sweeping change," and it usually amounts to somebody getting a new costume.


Nolan gave you sweeping change. Nolan gave you an ending, a deeply compelling, emotional end to the adventures of HIS Batman. Accept it as the gift it is, and demand that the next version be as well thought out and lovingly crafted.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My Favorite Author RETURNS!!!

September 11th, 2012. Michael Chabon. Telegraph Avenue.

Oh my lord, I am so excited. No modern author has been able to so succinctly and consistently touch me, be it by pure emotion, or by tapping into the same pop culture touchstones that most resonate with me.

I had been pretty firm in my "favorite novel, ever" for more than a decade (Fahrenheit 451, for the record), when, on a lark because I had a gift card, I bought The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Mainly, I was curious about a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about early comic book creators.

I was stunned, blown away. It's now unchallenged as my favorite novel, ever. I can't imagine anything replacing it.

I also cannot imagine Chabon falling from his place as my favorite writer. With each book he publishes, he embraces a different style, from the Robert E. Howard-esque Gentlemen of the Road to the Chandler homage of The Yiddish Policemen's Union. I love Chabon because he's a "serious" writer how unabashedly embraces pulp as a valid form of literature.

I cannot wait.

Here's the publisher's synopsis:
As the summer of 2004 draws to a close, Archy Stallings and Nat Jaffe are still hanging in there—longtime friends, bandmates, and co-regents of Brokeland Records, a kingdom of used vinyl located in the borderlands of Berkeley and Oakland. Their wives, Gwen Shanks and Aviva Roth-Jaffe, are the Berkeley Birth Partners, two semi-legendary midwives who have welcomed more than a thousand newly minted citizens into the dented utopia at whose heart—half tavern, half temple—stands Brokeland.
When ex–NFL quarterback Gibson Goode, the fifth-richest black man in America, announces plans to build his latest Dogpile megastore on a nearby stretch of Telegraph Avenue, Nat and Archy fear it means certain doom for their vulnerable little enterprise. Meanwhile, Aviva and Gwen also find themselves caught up in a battle for their professional existence, one that tests the limits of their friendship. Adding another layer of complication to the couples' already tangled lives is the surprise appearance of Titus Joyner, the teenage son Archy has never acknowledged and the love of fifteen-year-old Julius Jaffe's life
An intimate epic, a NorCal Middlemarch set to the funky beat of classic vinyl soul-jazz and pulsing with a virtuosic, pyrotechnical style all its own, Telegraph Avenue is the great American novel we've been waiting for. Generous, imaginative, funny, moving, thrilling, humane, triumphant, it is Michael Chabon's most dazzling book yet.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Words to Live By

“I searched out something that I needed to do. It’s a job that’s filled with ego and vanity and narcissism, and you need all those things to do it well. But you can’t let those things completely swamp you, either. You need all those things but in relative check. And in relative check for me, if you ask some of my friends or some members of my family, might not be considered in check to them! It’s in relative check as far as people who do what I do. But you need those things, because you are driven by your needs out there—the raw hunger and the raw need of exciting people and exciting yourself into some higher state. People have pursued that throughout the history of civilization. It’s a strange job, and for a lot of people it’s a dangerous job. But those things are at the root of it.”
-Bruce Springsteen

The Dark Knight Rises

Before we get into this, Comic-Con update; I'm having some problems with the photos, and I don't want to write it all up until I have some pictures. It's coming.

Onto today's topic: The Dark Knight Rises.

I am going to be brief and to the point here. I do this because if I begin talking in specifics about the film, I will be prone to spoilers. I will say this: if you haven't seen this film, do yourself a favor and don't read anything about it. Go in unspoiled, and enjoy the twisty ride Christopher and Johnathan Nolan have crafted for you (not forgetting David Goyer's story credit). This is a film filled with secrets and surprises, and I happily only had one major one spoiled for me before the film rolled.

I am so happy about that.

So, I'll stay in broad strokes. The cast is uniformly great. I've heard some rumblings about Tom Hardy's Bane not matching Heath Ledger's Joker, but that's just silly. It moves from this idea that comic-book villains are uniform and one-note. The Joker was an agent of chaos, Bane is an engine of destruction. I think Christian Bale does his best work of the series, as does Michael Caine. Anne Hathaway is probably the best Selina Kyle ever put on screen (even if she's never called Catwoman). Gary Oldman is still letter-perfect as Commissioner Gordon.

However, I think the MVP is Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake. There are large swaths of the film where Bruce Wayne and Batman are out of the picture, and Blake gives us a very human hero to root for. Gordon-Levitt handles the action with aplomb, and I really feel like you're watching a true superstar on the rise in this film.

Again in broad strokes, Nolan has done what few have done before. He's taken this trilogy to it's completion as a unified statement. He's used a pulp/comic book/serialized fiction character in ways that we've only really seen before in actual comic books. He understood that these characters can, and should be, used as a reflection of the times in which they are told. That they adapt and endure because great creators have defined and redefined them for their times. What Nolan has done is in that grand tradition.

He's crafted a super-hero movie that's about where the world sits right now, in this post-9/11, internet age. He's done it without smirking or looking down on the material. He knows the power of the toys he's been given to play with, and he's used it for the right, and best reasons. This is a summer blockbuster art film.

I loved The Avengers, unreservedly. However, what The Dark Knight Rises shows is how much more you can get out of these stories if you're willing to look deeper, and embrace the thematic elements. The Avengers, and the entire Marvel Productions film output, so far, have been artfully rendered commerce. Nolan's Batman trilogy is highly commercial art. That's why these three movies will live on for decades to come, not just as huge blockbusters, but as examples of great filmmaking.

Bring on whatever you want to do next, Mr. Nolan. I can't wait. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

In the Wake of Tragedy...

It's likely the teaser trailer for Man of Steel ran in that Aurora, CO theatre moments before James Eagan Holmes walked into the auditorium and started shooting. I had been luke-warm on this Superman reboot, but something about that teaser really hit me in the heart, and I think it comes down to the voice over by Russell Crowe as Jor-El:

"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time you will help them accomplish wonders".

It's silly, I know, but that's what I think about the most. What these characters are supposed to be to us, how they are supposed to inspire us to make ourselves better, to help each other, to shepherd our world closer and closer to the kind of bright, noble place it could be. If we'd only stop being so selfish. If we'd accept our failings, stop looking for excuses, and WORK to make the world better.

Superman, Batman, Tarzan, etc, etc, the list can go on forever, represent not reality, but an ideal. Perhaps an ideal that can never be achieved, but certainly an ideal that can be reached for. If a bystander pulls someone from a burning car, and says "it's what Superman would do," is that any less powerful, or real than if they said "it's what a fireman would do"? Is that inspiration to be scoffed at? Is it to be belittled?

I say it is to be revered. Superman doesn't have to be "real" to inspire, he need only be a symbol of what could be. These stories, these characters, these myths are our legacy of morality, hope and basic goodness. To have this horrible loss of life tied to them pains me.

Which, of course, doesn't even touch the pain of the victims and their families. I mean no disrespect my what I've written, only that this tragic event stirs in my soul the understanding of how far we are from where we could be.  My deepest thoughts and best wishes to each and every one of those touched by this horror.

It pains me that people will blame the film for this rampage. It's inevitable. It's the nature of where we are now, as a society. Scrambling to find easy answers, to assign blame, to look anywhere but at ourselves and our own culpability.

Millions of people saw The Dark Knight Rises last night. Most probably just had a kick-ass time, some may have been reduced to tears, and truly felt Christopher Nolan's deep understanding of exactly what I'm talking about above. Almost all of them didn't have the urge to kill anyone, except maybe the idiot in the front row who just couldn't stop checking Facebook on his damn phone. ONE guy, James Eagan Holmes, felt an urge he could not control. It was an urge that erupted in that auditorium because there were lots of unsuspecting people in a confined space, not because of the movie. A movie which, when you get down to brass tacks, he didn't even see, walking in some 15 minutes after the film began and immediately firing.

That action is about James Eagan Holmes, not the movie.

And it certainly isn't about Batman, who's legacy, who's meaning, would've been to provide an inspiration to Holmes in his darkest moments, and help him see a way to carry himself through his despair. To see that he could prevail over demons, within or without, and reach for the better part of himself. The part of all of us that he, and all our heroes, real or fictional, represent.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Plus, How Can I Have Had A Bad Time...

When I come home with this:

San Diego Comic-Con 2012 - Part 1

I call this part one, because, frankly I need a couple of blog entries for this process. I'm not going to get into specifics of panels I saw, or things I did, but the feel of what happened over this past weekend.

This was my fourth trip to "Nerd Prom," and, if you'd asked me before I left, I would've told you that is was to be my last. That was based on just how damn hard it had become to go to the damn thing. It wasn't long ago that tickets would go on sale in September or so, and would sell for several months. Usually you had to act fast, but you didn't have to feel like the pressure was on.

Lord, how that has changed. This year, for some reason, they held off putting tickets on sale until early March, and created a feeding frenzy. The entire convention was sold out in minutes. My friends Ken G, Sean H, and myself managed to snag four-day passes with preview night, and I felt on top of the world. It felt like things were going right. Still, there was a sense, a palpable sense, that something had gone wrong. Why wait so damn long to sell these tickets? Had they oversold the advanced tickets at the 2011 convention? Were they attempting to create a immediate sellout for publicity?

I felt somewhat ill-used. That, however, was nothing compared to the disaster that was the hotel lottery.

Hotel space has always been, and will probably always be, a problem for SDCC. It's been difficult every, single year I've gone. There are, simply, nowhere near enough rooms in downtown San Diego to accommodate the 150,000 people who come to this convention. This year, however, it went over the hill into a nightmare. I played the game, along with my two partners, we sent in a ranked list of 20 hotels. Sean got a room at the Town and Country Resort in Mission Valley, some five miles from the convention center. A hotel that wasn't even on his list. Ken and I got, "sorry, nothing for you" e-mails.

Now, to be clear, of course we put the headquarters hotels near the top of our lists. The Hilton Bayfront, the Marriott Hotel and Marina, etc. Yet, we also included places further out, The Doubletree downtown, which served well the first two times I went. It is unfathomable, to me, that there isn't something wrong with this process. I sent in my list within two minutes of hotel booking opening, then I hear tell on line of people who got the Bayfront from a request sent in 20 minutes later. All I can guess is that there is a manual process in place that makes the whole thing utterly random. Which would be fine, if they just said, "it's random," except they present the process as one of "first come, first served." which is clearly not what happened.

Yet, I say the experience renewed my vigor to return. Yes it did. I want to go back more than ever, despite the fact that I had about an hour shuttle ride, each way, to get things back to the hotel, then to return to the Gaslamp Quarter for the evening. Pain. In. The. Ass.

But, here's the deal; I discovered this year how much better it is to not fight to get into Hall H, or Ballroom 20, for every big movie or TV panel presented. I get that most of the attendees are enamored with seeing their favorite stars "live" on a huge TV about the length of a football field away. I get it, but what I realized, dramatically, this year is how much interesting and cool stuff is available in the smaller rooms.

I didn't even go to the major comic book panels. I eschewed DC and Marvel to take in panels celebrating 100 years of Tarzan and John Carter of Mars, I skipped the 45th panel where Image Comics tried to explain why every one of their titles ends up late to hear Mark Tyler Nobleman, the author of a new biography of Bill Finger, who is the utterly un-acknowledged co-creator of Batman. (Screw you, Bob Kane...seriously). I forgot about waiting in a line for hours to spend an hour listening to comic artist Darwyn Cooke talk about his continuing adaptations of Donald Westlake's Parker novels. I listened to Mark Waid speak about his attempts to set up a new method for digital comic book distribution, as well as share his encyclopedic knowledge of comic history with Larry Tye, author of what sounds to be a really brilliant "biography" of Superman. I heard information and opinions about the ongoing Jack Kirby/Marvel lawsuit, and well and the Simon and Schuster/DC comics case, regarding ownership of these characters.

Some opinions more lucid than others, but...whatever.

I was INSPIRED. I've long wanted to write a play about the early years of the comic industry, and this trip just made it clear how much I want to do that. that's not somethign that would've happened standing in a sweaty line to see a tiny little dot that was Matt Damon.

I don't begrudge anyone for wanting to come to Comic-Con (well, maybe the douchebag rubberneckers who are just out to see the freaks...just go home, OK?), but this was an exemplary year, in terms of me feeling like I was sharing something with creators that went far beyond a marketing opportunity. That made this year special, and I couldn't be happier. Or more excited to go again.

Although, I am still very, very sad I didn't make it into Ballroom 20 for the Firefly Cast reunion.

Once I get photos off my camera, and go over my stuff, I'll have another entry to cover specific things I saw and experienced.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

T-Minus 21 hours, Give or Take

Flying out for San Diego tomorrow. I may check in while I'm gone, I may not. I always SAY I'm gonna blog from the convention, but then I end up not wanting to haul the laptop around.

Pictures will abound upon my return. Stories will abound.

Very much looking forward to spending time with Ken G and Sean H, as well as seeing old friends like Tony & Hattie, and John & Mary (these are real people, I assure you).

Staying away from the big Hollywood panels, for the most part (I think - I reserve the right to suddenly need to see Man of Steel stuff.)

See you on the other side.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Russell Crowe

The important thing to me is that I'm not driven by people's praise and I'm not slowed down by people's criticism. I'm just trying to work at the highest level I can.
-Russell Crowe 

A few weeks ago, I watched the Russell Crowe episode of Inside the Actor's Studio, and found it rather inspirational. First off, he's a great actor. I will entertain no debate on this subject. All I'm gonna do is hand you a copies of L.A. Confidential, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World and Cinderella Man and then slap you across the face.

Crowe is a burly, fleshy guy, much like myself, and, frankly, that that makes him immediately inspirational, in a personal way. There's also the way he attacks roles in a physically that is incredibly appealing to me. Hell, he speaks about how gaining so much weight for The Insider seems to have permanently screwed up his metabolism. It's that "all in" sort of performance that speaks to me, and is, to some point, frustrating because I can't put my life on hold to make those kind of changes to myself. Still I aspire to it.

Plus, watching him talk about his process on ITAS left me with lots of bits and elements that I could work with. I was especially struck, probably because Frankenstein is on the horizon, by his comments about physical elements, and how you have to get them in place early. I expect to be making some major changes to my appearance for this show. Changes that, frankly, scare me, for various ego-driven reasons. It was through listening to Crowe talk about it that I realized I should embrace it, and go for it, as soon as I possibly can.

So I am. I may still be scared of it, but the sooner it's done, the sooner it won't matter to me. Then I can get on with seeing that person in the mirror.

On top of all this, there's an uncompromising quality to Crowe that I deeply admire. Even in the face of his more outrageous outbursts, I watch that interview with James Lipton, and I see a humble, work-focused guy. There's another quote I found online that goes very well with the one at the top of the page:

I don't make demands. I don't tell you how it should be. I'll give you options, and it's up to you to select or throw 'em away. That should be the headline: If you're insecure, don't call.
-Russell Crowe

There's a element there that corresponds with how I've tried to approach my career, such as it is. I do my work, I am who I am, I don't see any advantage to kissing ass or playing the sycophant. I'm not out to be an asshole, but I also "do unto others," if you take my meaning. Maybe that's why my career has never really skyrocketed, I hope not, but if that is the reason...So be it. At least I made the effort (nobody succeeds all the time) to keep my self worth in place.

If I like you, I like you, and if I don't, you likely won't see much of me. If you show faith in me, I will return it in full. I treasure my friends, try not to make enemies, and do my best to avoid them if I do make them. I may never be a superstar, but I want to live my life knowing I worked with people I loved and respected, and did work I was proud of. "The highest level I can," as the man said.

I really feel sorry for people who are, who divide their whole life up into 'things that I like' and 'things that I must do.' You're only here for a short time, mate. Learn to like it.
-Russell Crowe

I'm trying, buddy...I'm trying.

And, yes...I know this blog was horribly "man-crushy." I don't really care.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man

There seems to be a very, very deep split on this film. Some critics I respect have really enjoyed it, some have decidedly, not. The issue, really seems to come down to the undeniable fact that Sony Pictures is "rebooting" their Spider-Man cash-cow franchise a mere 5 years after the last Sam Raimi-directed, Tobey Maguire-staring film (the pretty abysmal Spider-Man 3), and only 10 years after their first film.

Here's the way I look at it: They didn't really need to tell the origin story again (another Spidey-tale, with a new actor, would've flew fine), but they did a pretty good job of doing it. Better than Raimi and his team, in some cases. Not all, but some.

I really, really like Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. He still embodies the nerdy, hurt child, but also has a sense of aggression. It also helps that they allow Spidey to talk more, with his trademark quips and bad jokes. In terms of the sequel(s), I hope the production team goes even farther with that element. It's part of what makes the character really snap, and sets him apart from other long-underwear characters. Maguire (who I loved, I am a HUGE fan of the first two Raimi films), God bless him, tended to always make Peter look like he was on the verge of tears. The character is pretty proactive and aggressive about what he does. I just felt like Garfield got to that point, granted, the story helps him.

The other great performance here is Emma Stone as a truly radiant Gwen Stacy. I've always been a Gwen Stacy fan, Mary Jane Watson, despite the fact that Peter eventually married her, was always a rebound girl from Gwen. Gwen is, was, and always shall be Peter Parker's first true love, and the way that storyline plays out is hugely important to his development as a character. Stone and Garfield are tremendous together, and that relationship benefits the most from having Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) in the director's chair. His sense of relationships is strong, and has to be a huge part of why Sony attached him to the project.

The rest of the cast are all quite good, Ryhs Ifans is striking and very good as Dr. Curt Connors/The Lizard. Hitting the right notes of a good man who gets himself in over his head. The only sad part here is that Dylan Baker never got to fully flesh out the character he played in two of Raimi's films.

I really, really loved Sally field and Martin Sheen as Aunt May and Uncle Ben. Something about how they were handled in this film worked so much more for me than what Cliff Robertson and Rosemary Harris did in Raimi's film. They're all wonderful actors, but what Webb and team pull off with these characters worked much more on me, emotionally.

Yes, the ultimate event that causes Peter to be come Spider-Man has changed, as it did in Raimi's film. This film, however, it seemed very immediate and powerful, whereas, if my memory serves, the actual event happened off-screen in the 2002 version. The one gripe I have here is that you can't be scared of the line "with great power comes great responsibility," you can't finesse it, and you can't avoid it. There's a, well-played, I admit, but painfully over-written scene were Ben talks and talks about this concept. Yet he never just says the line. It's a mistake that keeps the scene from working fully.

The Amazing Spider-Man is not a bad movie, and anybody who tried to tell you that is overstating things. It works. Is it too soon after Raimi? Maybe. I do encourage you to check it out for yourself.

At the end of the day, for myself, personally, I have to agree that there was no need to re-tell the origin story. There is an element where you're just waiting for the events to fall into place, again. Still, as with every time a comic-book is written re-telling that story (which happens a LOT), the way it's told trumps everything else. This is a well-told version of Spidey's origin. It's exciting, funny, well acted and directed. It's ludicrous to think that serialized characters like this are not going to be told, and re-told, and re-told again. It's the nature of the characters. Every generation gets their own version.

That said, guys? Next time, just skip re-telling the origin.

Worth Your Time 7.5.2012

I have to admit, in recent years, my appreciation of Kevin Smith has waned. I still admire the guy on a lot of fronts, as far as being a self-made media figure. Ultimately, I feel like the reason I loved him to begin with, the films he made, were the reason I wanted to listen to his podcasts, or see his live Q&A events. Now, he's announced he's retiring as a filmmaker after his next project, a hockey film called Hit Somebody! What's unsettling, to me, is that his output of podcasts and public appearances just exploded after that announcement.

Keven Smith is no longer a filmmaker (I do give him props for announcing the retirement), but a digital content provider. The podcasts (and there are many available on his website, now), his Spoilers! Show on HULU, etc, etc. That's well and good, but I think Smith has lost sight of the fact that a lot of us were interested in his opinions and ideas because he made films. He was the "geek done good," with the history that made him "one of us," yet the experience that made him somewhat versed in the world of Hollywood. That was interesting, the way those two sides of his life played out together.

Now he's the big geek with lots of Hollywood buddies. Which, to be fair, can still make for some interesting shit.

Case in point; I've discovered Smith's Fatman on Batman podcast. Specifically, the 2-part interview with Mark Hamill (Yes, THAT Mark Hamill), who voiced the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series, as well as a number of other projects, like the Arkham Asylum and Arkham City games.

Fatman on Batman Episode #2: Mark Hamill, The People's Joker - Part 1

Fatman on Batman Episode 3#: Mark Hamill, The People's Joker - Part 2

Hamill gives great interview here, talking through his entire career, and his development as a comic book fan well before the Star Wars thing ever happened. It's a really fun 3 hours, you will not regret it.

I'm excited to go back and catch up with all of these now, especially Episode #1 with Paul Dini, one of my favorite Batman writers, ever.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Stuck in My Head 7.3.2012

I've written about Bob Seger before, and how almost hie entire catalog seems obsessed with lost dreams, growing older, etc.

I remember buying this album when I was late teens, I think...Over the last couple of days, I had it randomly come up on my MP3 player, and I was rather deeply affected by it.

Like a Rock
by Bob Seger

Stood there boldly
Sweatin' in the sun
Felt like a million
Felt like number one
The height of summer
I'd never felt that strong
Like a rock

I was eighteen
Didn't have a care
Working for peanuts
Not a dime to spare
But I was lean and
Solid everywhere
Like a rock

My hands were steady
My eyes were clear and bright
My walk had purpose
My steps were quick and light
And I held firmly
To what I felt was right
Like a rock

Like a rock, I was strong as I could be
Like a rock, nothin' ever got to me
Like a rock, I was something to see
Like a rock

And I stood arrow straight
Unencumbered by the weight
Of all these hustlers and their schemes
I stood proud, I stood tall
High above it all
I still believed in my dreams

Twenty years now
Where'd they go? 
Twenty years
I don't know
Sit and I wonder sometimes
Where they've gone

And sometimes late at night
When I'm bathed in the firelight
The moon comes callin' a ghostly white
And I recall
I Recall

Like a rock. standin' arrow straight
Like a rock, chargin' from the gate
Like a rock, carryin' the weight
Like a rock

Like a rock, the sun upon my skin
Like a rock, hard against the wind
Like a rock, I see myself again
Like a rock