Friday, July 20, 2012

Response to the Aurora, CO Batman shooting

Mass shootings are always a tragic thing. No innocent people deserve to die such horrific deaths, especially while watching a movie. This thing could have happened in any city at any time. Shit like this that happens is not just limited to movies and comic books, it happens in real life, yet people are never truly aware nor truly prepared. They just think that nothing's going to happen, ever.
And they'd be right, most of the time. See, if you go out, there's going to be a 99.9% chance that you're not going to be in any type of mortal danger. In other words, you have a higher chance of getting struck by lightning than by encountering some crazed lunatic straight out of Batman.
Then there's the .1% of the time. The scary thing about this occurrence is the stark reality that this is the kind of scene that could have easily been portrayed in a Batman movie or any other superhero movie. In fact, word on the street is that the perpetrator dressed up as the Joker (I might be wrong, but he was basically armed to the teeth and had been planning his attack for quite a while).
The difference between Gotham City and pretty much any major city in the US is that superheroes don't exist. There is no caped crusader, no team of vigilante mutants or even Avengers to rescue you when you really need it. In most cities, police are usually minutes away when seconds matter. And the sickos in the world know this.
As much as I am a geek, I'm also a gun person and an ardent supporter of the Second Amendment. I'm not going to turn this into NRA propaganda because that's not the purpose of this blog. Concealed carry doesn't exist to turn us all into Batman wannabes. However I will end by saying that several or even one well-trained person could have saved those 12 people from dying and those 59 from getting injured. What? There was smoke you say? Take it from me, chances are that people who carry get enough practice on the range to know not to fire blindly into the darkness. Also guns give off bright muzzle flashes (the reason why you need eye protection when shooting) so even if there was smoke, you'd still be able to identify the location of the shooter. Furthermore, many people have flashlights or laser attachments. Maybe someone could have been injured had there been someone carrying concealed at the location when the shooting started. I'd take a few injured (hell, I'd rather be injured) than get the entire theater massacred. Sometimes, with issues like these, it's a matter of wanting it bad or worst. Nothing is black and white anymore.
Batman may not be real, but men like the Joker, like Bane, like the rest of the Rogues Gallery and inmates at Arkham Asylum are. Superheroes aren't real. Monsters are. It falls on the average citizen to protect themselves. You don't like guns or the idea of hurting someone even if said someone is holding you at gunpoint (or threatening to literally cut your mouth open)? Regardless of political views, protecting yourself and others around you is a human priority, not a political one. Oftentimes, it's not a glamorous thing to do considering the multitude of possible outcomes. Of course, if it's your family or the deranged psychopathic lunatic threatening to kill them and the entire crowd of innocent people, I think the choice should be fairly clear.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wolverine (officially) has a sequel

Wolverine is one of my all-time favorite superheroes. He's practically indestructible (READ: immortal due to healing factor), has KNIVES as a part of his body that he can retract at will and he has the bad attitude/gruff cynical attitude to match. Comic book heroes don't get anymore badass than that. The only people who come close are the Punisher and Spawn in terms of sheer badass. So I was decicedly excited and blown away when I first saw trailers for Origins back in 2009.
The more I think about it, the only thing good about that movie was Hugh Jackman's performance. Everything else was kind of subpar and cliche considering that it was a movie from the same franchise that basically set the standard for superhero movies a few years prior with X2. The movie's story was all over the place, and it fell flat trying to cover way too much material in one movie (although the Wolverine and Sabretooth fighting through various wars in history montage was cool). Not to mention, it had too many individual mutants and didn't go into enough detail with any of them (I'm looking right at you, Deadpool and Gambit). In short, it could have been much more with better writing and character development.
Which leads me to my next point, Wolvie gets a sequel aptly named...wait for it...wait for it...The Wolverine. Despite mostly negative reviews, Origins did well enough to warrant a sequel and hey, that's how Hollywood works. Of course, I've been a diehard X-men fan for most of my life so I'm always interested when they announce new shit. Whereas the first movie focused on Logan's origin story, this one will focus on his time in Japan, based on the famous Chris Claremont/Frank Miller miniseries from the early 80s.
Of course, Hugh Jackman returns for the titular role. Honestly, I can't imagine anyone else playing Wolverine even though he's technically a foot shorter than Jackman. Because it's set in Japan, most of the roles are played by Asians, something I like because I'm, well, Asian. Hiroyuki Sanada (that really badass samurai from The Last Samurai) plays the crime lord Shingen and the film's villain, Silver Samurai, is Will Yun Lee. The other notable roles are played by Brian Tee (who coincidentally shares, down to the letter, the same name as my brother) and Tao Okamoto as Wolvie's love interest, Mariko.
The actors definitely make a movie, but arguably more important is the director and the writers. I don't know too much about screenwriters, but at least one of the writers here has collaborated with Bryan Singer (director of the previous X-men films) before so that's promising. James Mangold is the director here, a better choice for the darker setting of this sequel. He's got hits on his resume like Walk the Line (which won several Academy Awards and Golden Globes) and 3:10 to Yuma. I'm not expecting The Wolverine to win Best Picture, but I'm hoping at least it's an improvement over Origins. So far, Marvel seems to be headed in the right direction.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Amazing Spider-Man review

The first Spider-Man movie came out almost exactly 10 years ago. Back then, I wasn't too into it on the basis that I wasn't a very big fan of the character and that none of my favorite villains were featured in the movie. As time went on, my opinion changed, and I had the pleasure of re-watching the entire original trilogy just for shits and giggles this summer.
The first one was alright, if a little campy because the director was the same guy who did Evil Dead. The second one was fucking amazing and is easily one of the best superhero movies ever made thanks to the seamless integration of the multiple storylines with the personal conflict going within Peter Parker's troubled soul. The complexity of Doc Ock as one of the finest movie villains of our generation definitely helped. The third one was a movie about an emo kid that fell flat because it tried introducing too many villains. If they wanted to have Venom, they should have made him the main villain and not introduce him literally during the last half hour of the movie. Also if I wanted to watch a movie about emo kids I'd rather watch Donnie Darko or some shit like that.
So yeah, them movies are pretty fucking good. Of course, Hollywood being Hollywood just had to go and reboot the franchise after negotiations for Spider-Man 4 fell through. The reboot for Spider-Man had some pretty big shoes to fill. So, did it succeed? Yeah, I'd say so.
Unlike the original movie, Amazing Spider-Man deals more in depth with Peter Parker in high school. It deals with the issue of what exactly happened to his parents and why they kind of left him hanging. It deals with the growing pains of a kid who just received some really awesome powers during a not-so-awesome time in his life. Where the original movie was like "yeah here are your powers" then herp derp Peter graduates, this one deals with Peter in high school and that is where it excels.
Speaking of Peter, the casting for Amazing Spider-Man was spot on. Andrew Garfield excelled in his role. Now I know some may cry foul and say that Tobey Maguire will forever be Peter Parker in their eyes, but you can take that sentimentality and shove it up your ass. If you've ever read the comics, in particular the recent adaptation, Ultimate Spider-Man, Garfield's portrayal was much closer to the comics. In the original, Peter kind of got along with Uncle Ben and Aunt May all the time. This time, again, like the comics, he misses curfews and regularly bickers with his aunt and uncle, just like a normal teenager and not quite like Tobey Maguire's almost angelic portrayal. He's a brooding teenager who just wants to get through life and be left alone by the world, which I think is something many of us can relate to.
As for the other characters, I'd saw Gwen Stacey was pretty spot-on. I can't really say too much about her because I'm not that familiar with Spidey's love interests, but I do know that in the comics, Gwen is kind of a science nerd like Peter so I respect this portrayal. Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben was practically the same as in the original movies since even though the character is a major driving force in Peter's life, he kind of works his influence from the grave, quite literally.
The Lizard was an interesting villain. I'll digress by saying that me being a dinosaur/reptile freak is a big understatement and this was the Spider-Man movie I would have wanted 10 years ago on the basis that he's well A LIZARD. That said, he just wasn't villainous and evil enough. He's a guy with perfectly good intentions who wants to accomplish them in, well, not so good ways. That's what made him an interesting character. He just wanted to help society by literally making people better. I know I'd rather be a mutant lizard than the geek that I am. Still, he's no Doc Ock. He's not even a Green Goblin. But he is better than 3's Venom and Sandman. He was just kind of one-dimensional in his quest to improve humanity (and himself) and probably should have been given more time to develop.
Overall, this is the second best movie based off the friendly neighborhood wall crawler. It didn't blow me away like Spider-Man 2 but it was certainly better than 1 and 3. Where it really excelled was bringing Spider-Man back to his roots and that by itself is something. Unfortunately, it will probably have to play second fiddle to The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises, but it still got the job done and people will still pay money to see it. I did, and I don't regret it

3.5 out of 4

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fate/Zero Review

Disclaimer: There will be spoilers

People who know me personally know that I'm Asian and due to cultural stereotypes, I watch anime (Japanese cartoons). Kidding. I watch anime because I fucking love it. Been watching that stuff ever since the glory days of old Toonami and the original Pokemon series. Last year, however, I really diversified in terms of which shows I watch and that has led me to a wide variety of shows. Usually, yes, I'll admit that what usually draws me in is attractive girls. That's kind of what drew me to the original Fate/Stay Night visual novel and eventually the anime after the visual novel really hooked me in.
That leads me to Fate/Zero. The basic plot of the entire series is as follows: there's this thing called the Holy Grail that exists to grant wishes or some random ass bullshit along those lines. Anyway, every couple or so years, it chooses a select few people to basically battle it out so that someone wins it. It's kind of like any reality show with a prize, say Survivor, except people die. Ok, so it's more like law school with a high rate of suicides (bad joke there). Oh yeah, and the people in the fight have these partners called "servants." Ok, so it's kind of like Survivor mixed with Pokemon with a little Harry Potter because of the magical elements.
I'm not going to go too into detail if you haven't played the visual novel so if you're reading this, I'm going to assume you have no idea what the fuck this series is. Actually, if you're new to this whole franchise, Fate/Zero is a pretty good place to start. See, it's actually a prequel to the original visual novel/anime so if you haven't played it, it might familiarize you with the world in which this stuff happens. Then again, there's a lot of stuff from the game that the show kind of spoils so if you're an uptight prude about that kind of thing, well, either play the original game or watch the original anime first.
Fate/Zero's plot revolves around the original Holy Grail War in which there are a bunch of these mage families competing for it (READ: trying to kill each other). Standing out among them is Emiya Kiritsugu, the most cold blooded, badass mother fucker in anime since Golgo 13 was first published back in the 60s. Thanks to some traumatic childhood existence, he wants to win the Holy Grail to basically wipe out all evil, suffering, conflict, etc. in the world. It's a hopeless dream, but he wants to accomplish it and he believes that the Holy Grail will grant him this wish (it doesn't). So in order to get into the contest, he marries this really hot white haired chick and summons an equally hot servant. And then the other characters run the gamut from endearing and memorable (like the duo of Rider and Waver) to absolutely despicable (Caster and Ryuunosuke).
Fate/Zero has really good action that never lets up and the story absolutely hooks you in. If I didn't want to actually preserve/enjoy it, I could have easily watched the entire show in less than 2 days. It's that good. The character development and even the emotion in some parts is real and that's actually pretty hard to come by nowadays in most animated works. Yeah, get off your lazy ass and go watch this one.

4 out of 4 stars.