Thursday, June 30, 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon REVIEW (spoiler free)

So let me clarify something right now, if you know you don't like Bay's movies OR the Transformers OR the characters in the Transformers movies (human or otherwise), then obviously you shouldn't be watching this movie. That would be like me paying money to suffer through Return of the King, when I fell asleep through LOTR, and didn't even bother with the second movie in the trilogy. I'm just saying that it's the third movie in a trilogy, and if you weren't on board at any other point with the other two, chances are you shouldn't be hopping aboard right now either since you're bound to be disappointed. 

With that said, I found this movie was what the first movie should have been all along story and plot-wise (and yes, there is a plot and it's actually good). Are there silly moments? Sure, but no moreso than in the cartoons or the previous two movies. I actually found that the human characters were toned down a little bit (except for LaDouche's character), and were necessary to move the story along. Sure, the first hour could have been edited down a little more, but at least it wasn't three and a half extremely long boring hours of some assholes with big feet walking through a forest complaining about food and their unrequited love for each other all the time when they could have just flown on the back of a giant eagle to the fire pit to drop the stupid ring into....just to put things in perspective. 

It has a two and a half hour running time, but (for me at least) it didn't feel like it. Everyone that survived the first two movies is here (except for the Ghetto-Bot twins, which were replaced with the annoying smaller bots from the second movie, and Megan "Toe-Thumb" Fox), and a few new additions to the cast as well make it a fairly large cast to deal with so a lot of the shenanigans that bogged down the second movie are (thankfully) gone. 

This time around we are introduced to Sentinel Prime (voiced by Leonard Nimoy) who was leader of the Autobots during the Cybertron war (which we get to see a little bit of as well) and was lost along with a great weapon that could have ended the war. Needless to say, Megatron wants the weapon, as do the Autobots, and mayhem and robot-on-robot carnage ensues. Actually, there is a bit more to the plot, but to say any more about it would reveal some surprises. 

This is the first time we get to see the real consequences of these giant robots unleashed on the human population. For me, some parts of the movie actually looked a lot like the Terminator series where the HK's are hunting down and killing people. And believe me, you see people getting killed. Vaporized, blown up, etc. I was actually kind of surprised considering the first two movies were almost as bloodless as a GI Joe vs Cobra fight. 

The humor in the movie is a little juvenile, but actually toned down from the previous two movies. There are two fairly good Star Trek (the original stuff, not the bastardized JJ Abram's crapfest) jokes done at Nimoy's expense. And there are a surprising amount of a handful of good actors that make an appearance in this outing. Of course, it wouldn't be a Bay movie without at least one racist character, and that's left to Ken Jeong to fill that need of Bay's. Thankfully, it's not a lot of screen time. 

I saw this in 2D, but from what I'm hearing (and what I saw in the movie) 3D was the way to go see this movie since it was actually utilized correctly. So if you're on the fence, take the 3D plunge, which you know is a rare endorsement from me.

Finally, it's a movie geared towards kids and those kids that grew up with the first two movies. It's a little dumbed down, but not as bad as the second movie had been. It's what you expect a summer sequel movie to be, loud, fun, and you get to hang out with some old movie buddies one last least until the next sequel.

Rating: Full Price + 3D. Yup, I actually said WITH 3D. I know I'm a little shocked myself. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Captain America TV Spot (Jun 28)

So I'm watching tv, when another commercial for Captain America comes on. No, no, not the lame Dunkin Donuts one where the fat ass construction worker can't drop his sugar-laden, super-sized drink to use both hands to stop the dog. I'm talking about this cool, new commercial that starts off where, those of us familiar with how Steve Rogers gets into the Avengers, were interested to see in the new Cap movie. Take a look:

I'm SOOOOO ready to see this thing now. Looks good.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Flaming C Done At Last!

If you're a regular browser of my blog, then you probably saw the line art I put up two weeks ago of the Conan O'Brien comic book character The Flaming C. Well, I finally got around to painting it today, and I'm pretty happy with the results. 

I used the same pose from the old Ahnuld movie, Conan the Barbarian (the poster pose). 

I liked the pose, I liked the background colors, and I liked the play with Conan's name being the name of the movie (yes, it's cheesey, just deal with it). I didn't like the birds in the background, so I left them out. 

Everything was done in watercolor, except for the original line art. Tell me what you think in the comments down below.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Transformers MMO

Are you a fan of the Transformers (cartoon, toys, or movies, makes no difference)? Well, then I've got a little bit of news for you. There's a Transformers MMO that's going to hit next year, and they are now accepting applications for beta testing. In the game, you can design and name your own bot and then pick your allegiance (Autobot or Decepticon). Sound interesting? Then head on over and sign up.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Green Lantern Movie Review (possible Spoilers)

I finally got around to seeing Green Lantern tonight. Normally I tend to write my reviews about a day after seeing a movie to let it percolate and give me time to mull it over, but this one I kind of just want to get it over with sooner rather than later.   

The first five minutes into the movie had me giggling (and not in a good way) at a flaming screaming skull flying out into space. If you lived during the 1970's you'd know what kind I meant. They used to adorn vans, blacklight posters, etc. and looked really cheesy even though some people think it used to look cool or even macho. It's explained in these first few minutes how the Guardians set up the Green Lantern Corps and split up the galaxy into over 3000 sectors. Each sector gets a Green Lantern to protect it, so it's kind of a big deal. 

After this we see the GL for our sector getting his ass handed to him fairly easily by the screaming skull, getting injured and then ejecting from his ship to find a replacement since he knows he is dying. This is where we meet Hal Jordan, or the version of Jordan they decided to use for the big screen. He's a test pilot and a screw up, a womanizer, and still has a hangup about seeing his dad die in a plane crash when he was a kid. 

Anyway, Hal gets the ring, makes the flight to Oa to meet the Lanterns and begin training. Here's where things go wrong. Hal decides he isn't right for the Corps so he returns to Earth. With the ring. You know, the ring that's supposed to be used to protect our sector of space. He does this without question from any of the other Lanterns or even the Guardians. 

In the meantime, on Earth, while Hal was playing soldier, the government was examining the body and aircraft of Abin Sur. They bring in another scientist named Hector Hammond to look at the body, and of course he gets infected with some leftover spooge from the screaming skull. 

Here's the really wacky part, somehow (it's never explained in the movie) Hal and Hector know each other, and they both have a thing for Carol Ferris (Hal's boss). Supposedly all three know each other, but it's kind of just thrust in there like a chunk of backstory was missing. 

Anyway, the screaming skull which is the living embodiment of fear (named Parallax), is coming to Oa to destroy the Lanterns for imprisoning it. But now that Hector Hammond has been infected with this fear agent, Parallax decides to come to Earth to kill everyone and get stronger before heading to Oa.  

Sinestro (a Green Lantern) asks the Guardians what they know about Parallax since they seem to know its name. They tell him that it was once a Guardian that tried to harness the power of fear to use since willpower (the power of the lanterns) seemed to be weakening. Mind you, the Guardians have billions of years of knowledge (or so they say), and have already lost one of their own trying to use fear as a weapon. So what does Sinestro suggest? Why not build a yellow ring harnessing the fear power to fight Parallax? Wasn't the asshole just listening to the story? It doesn't work. But what do the Guardians do with their vast knowledge and experience? Yup, you got it. They decide to build a yellow ring. Honestly, at this point my IQ started taking hits at how dumb this movie was becoming.

Anyway, Hal decides he wants to be a Lantern after all, so he flies all the way to Oa to ask for help against Parallax, and essentially is told good luck after he decides to take on Parallax alone. Really, something he could have phoned in with the ring (which we saw earlier in the movie) instead of wasting time flying back and forth. 

Long story short, the bad no-love triangle gets resolved, Parallax comes to Earth, yada, yada, yada. The end. There's yet another incomprehensible scene about three minutes into the end credits that has a main character doing something that they would have no reason, or motivation, or setup to do. It's basically done to setup a sequel.

First off, really, REALLY bad CGI and effects in this movie. Nothing looked real world. There's even a scene where a tanker truck is thrown into the air and that CGI looks like hot wheels car. The suit's energy crackle was visually disturbing as well. It kept reminding me that it was CGI, and since it didn't blend well with the actor, it reminded me that it was bad CGI. Add to that darkness and clutter (even on the Oa scenes), and you have entirely too busy CGI scenery that makes it look like a videogame, and not a big budget movie. 

And speaking of faking it, Blake Lively.....she tried, she really did, but she fell flat in trying to be human in the human moments. She was good in the few action scenes she was in, mainly because she didn't have to act against anyone else. Reynolds went through the movie with the sad puppy dog eyes he's good at doing, but there was no emotional depth to character at all. This was a paycheck from the looks of things. Seriously, there's a drinking game to be had in this movie every time someone mentions that the ring choose Hal for a reason.  

Skaarsgard and Strong were pretty much on the money as far as their characters are concerned, yet they weren't in the movie as much as Reynolds and Lively. Unfortunately for us all. 

Rating: Rental. Again, there's so much stuff coming out this summer that you can honestly miss this turkey and find something much more worth your time and money.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Flaming C

If you're not a fan of Conan O'Brien (shame on you), then you probably haven't heard of the comic book character that was created for him by Bruce Timm (Warner Bros. head of animation for DC animated movies, creator of the 1990's Batman animated series, Superman animated series, etc.). The character is called the Flaming C. Pretty funny stuff that Conan asked Timm to add to the character. Well, Conan's website last week asked for submissions for people's rendition of the Flaming C, so I figured what the hell. Here's my line art so far...

I decided to have a little fun with Conan's name and the pose in this one, so if it looks familiar you're not imagining things. I decided to use the pose from the Conan the Barbarian poster (the Ahnuld movie from the 1980's). 

I'm going to finish it off using watercolors, and I'm going to set the background colors in the same palette as the movie poster colors. I'll post the finished picture when I'm done. Let me know what you think so far.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Troll Hunter: Review (Spoiler Free)

This little gem out of Norway has been hitting the indie and international film circuits recently to much applause. All I can say is, believe the hype. This is a "found footage" film which many have been comparing (unfairly) to The Blair Witch Project, since it's really the only Cinéma vérité that most American film goers are familiar with. The truth is, this movie is much more similar in tone to the French movie Man Bites Dog (which came out almost a decade before Blair Witch). As an aside, if you've never seen Man Bites Dog, rent it. It's a must see for anyone that likes dark comedies. Anyway, on to the review...

The story opens with a group of college kids doing a story on the bear problem and possible bear poaching in an area near them in Norway. They start following a guy they think is a bear poacher, mainly because they think it would be an interesting slant to the story for the college. As they find out rather startling, that this guy isn't out hunting bears, he's hunting trolls. 

Yes, trolls are real. They're dumb, they eat pretty much anything (including rocks), and the government knows about them and tries to keep them penned into an area using electric power lines. Hans, the troll hunter, works for the government in taking care of rogue trolls (insert your own Sarah Palin joke here) for all of Norway. 

Along the way we find out all the facts about trolls, and also the different variety (or species if you will) of them. One of the facts, that trolls can smell the blood of a Christian, is used to some very good comedic effect and timing in a few places in the movie. 

So how was the movie? It takes a little while to get started (almost 25-30 minutes) before you start to get into it, but once it does get started it's a fun ride. Also, if you're not into subtitles (and your Norwegian is a little rusty) then this isn't for you, since the entire movie is subtitled. Hans, the troll hunter, I can see becoming another iconic movie bad ass like John McClain, or (more likely) Ash from the Evil Dead series. He has a calm, matter-of-fact kind of attitude that works very well for this kind of movie. 

The CGI trolls were done very well, and for the budget were actually much more believable than the craptastic creature from JJ Abrams' bloated Super 8. Plus there's actually an attempt in this movie not to demonize the trolls, but to place them in the animal kingdom as just another part of the flora and fauna of the Earth. Very well done all the way around. 

Rating: Full Price Ticket for Multiple Viewings. If this movie is playing near you, go see it and have some fun. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011


One thing about doing these window displays bothers me...lots and lots of leftover scrap foamboard in irregular shapes. Sure, there are times when I get to use the scrap to reinforce one of the displays (like Thor's outstretched arm), but for the most part I've got a lot of bits and pieces that I'd like to make something from. So I decided that since the villain side of the displays were a little less than the hero side, that I'd make a few of the lesser known villains. 

First up, M.O.D.O.K. (Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing). M.O.D.O.K. is a villain that started off as a serious baddie, but soon became more of a punchline in the comics. He's been associated with Captain America, who (surprise, surprise) has a movie coming out next month. So you can all guess what the next window display will actually be up at The Comic Outpost in a few weeks. Anyway, enough backstory, here he is in all his miniature glory...M.O.D.O.K.

Taken with a flash

Taken without a flash

Same specs as the others, 3/4" foamboard, hand cut, painted with acrylic paint, and finished with markers. Every now and then I get the inquiry as to how much one of my pieces would go for (since they are all on sale), and this little guy is priced at $150. Yes, I know it isn't cheap, but neither are the hours put into making a one-of-a-kind piece.  


Friday, June 10, 2011

Super 8 Movie Review

I went and saw JJ Abram's new movie, "Super 8" tonight. I sprang for the extra dough to see it on the IMAX screen to get the better sound, and because the higher ticket price keeps the riff raff out of the theater. Here's a brief synopsis of the movie:

A group of kids in a small rural town circa 1979 are making a zombie movie by the train tracks when they witness a dramatic train derailment. This derailment brings in the Air Force and the military to cover up whatever was aboard the train. Strange incidents begin to happen all over town including power fluctuations and mysterious disappearances which the kids take it upon themselves to solve. 

This is Abram's homage to Steven Spielberg's 80's movies. You know, "E.T.", "Goonies", etc. as well as those 80's coming-of-age stories ("Stand By Me" comes readily to mind). So how does he do? Well, it feels like someone trying to do an 80's Spielberg movie, and pretty much missing the mark. Especially if you're one of those 80's kids, like me, that grew up seeing classic Spielberg movies first run in the theater. You can feel the nostalgia being forced. 

That's not to mean that there aren't some fine performances in this movie. Elle Fanning does a good job in quite a few scenes, but does a bit of overacting in a handful of scenes as well. The other five main boy characters come off as kind of a pale imitation of The Goonies, only being film nerds instead of adventurers. And the main boy, Joel Courtney, has a lot riding on his shoulders since the film is mainly seen though his eyes, and he's nearly in every scene. 

Abrams' main problem with Courtney and Fanning is that you can tell he's overly enamored with the actors and he tends to linger on them a little too long for comfort. Yes, Spielberg used to do this as well, but he used it sparingly to call attention to certain scenes. Abrams uses it at the drop of a hat.  

So how does the movie story hold up? Not that well, really. These kids get into and out of ridiculous situations with ease. With so much ease in fact, that they never really truly feel like they're in any danger. Also, just like in an 80's Spielberg movie, the kids always know more than the adults, and frankly that cliche just doesn't work well anymore. 

Then there's the much ballyhooed monster. You really never get a good look at the entire creature. Sure, you get a good look at its face in one scene, but it almost seems like a different creature when it's moving due to the weird movement of its limbs and the use of CGI. Also, the creature's motivation for the destruction it causes is set up well, but you would think it would go about things a little differently so as not to draw as much attention to itself given the circumstances. That's where one of the movie's flaws comes into play, because you see that the creature does have a hiding place, but then it rampages all over parts of town drawing so much attention to itself that it kind of makes no sense as to why it has a hiding place in the first place. 

So is this movie worth the hype and your money to see it in the theater? Frankly, no, it's not. It's a nice, extravagant, vanity piece and homage to different time and movie type, but it falls flat in a lot of been-there-done-that archetype that we've seen in films that were made much better long before this one was ever thought up. So don't fall for the false hype.

Rating: Rental. Seriously, this summer and this year are packed with movies coming out, and this one can easily be missed being seen in the theater since it will be out on DVD in the Fall anyway. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Wonder Woman, In Color!

A few days ago I posted a drawing of Wonder Woman that I did for a friend of mine. Well, I finally finished the watercolors on it, and it didn't turn out half bad if I do say so myself. Here, check it out for yourself.

Lit with two lights

Just lit with a flash

So there you have it, my rendition of Wonder Woman done in watercolor. This is really only my third piece done with watercolor, and I'm starting to get a better feeling for it and the techniques needed to work with it competently. Tell me what you think either in the comments down below, or on Facebook. I'd appreciate the feedback and critique of the piece. 


Saturday, June 4, 2011

X-Men: First Class Review


I'm going to assume that most of you know the X-Men universe (comics, not bastardized movie universe), so I'm not going to be throwing in a lot of explanation of characters...that's what Wikipedia and Google is for..

It's been a day now since I've seen X-Men: First Class, so it's given me some time to ruminate on it and how I felt about it. First off, I went into this with middle-ground expectations. All the reviews were giving it high marks, it was directed by Matthew Vaughn (who directed the very entertaining movie "Kick Ass" among others)...but my remaining doubt was that Bryan Singer was still attached as Producer and that Fox Studios still had control of this franchise. Let me explain, Bryan Singer's X-Men movies were subpar. Very little action (mostly because Singer isn't familiar nor comfortable directing action scenes, and it shows), and the same plot in all three movies. Yes, I know Ratner directed X3, but he only stepped into the director's chair a mere three weeks before filming began. That means he had to work with Singer's script and sets. Granted, Ratner added more action in X3 than we saw in X1 and X2 combined, but it still couldn't save that movie from the same tired and hackneyed script. Unfortunately. So you see my dilemma walking into this movie. So what did I think of it? 

The beginning of the movie we get the same tired opening that we saw in X1 of the concentration camp that a young Magneto is being brought to with his parents. In fact, I thought the projectionist had slipped up and actually threw the old X1 reel onto the projector considering that he/she had screwed up a little earlier and had started Bridesmaids instead of X-Men: First Class. But I digress....

We get to see a little more of what happened to young Magneto at the camp and what awakened his powers. We also get to see a young Charles Xavier and Mystique as well within roughly the same time frame. Flash forward to 1962, and you have an older Magneto hunting down Nazi war criminals. Actually I found this part of the movie much more enjoyable and preferable to having watch Xavier and Mystique stumble through their part of the story in the same time frame.  

We then get a bit of cheap James Bond-esque espionage thrown our way by the CIA investigating the Hellfire Club in Las Vegas. Here we meet Moira MacTaggert as a CIA agent. Now this change kind of ruffled my feathers a little. Moira, in the comics, is a fellow geneticist and doctor. She and Charles are to have met in school, and she was quite important in the X-Men universe. So this change kind of threw me. Anyway, back to the story.

It seems that the Hellfire Club is working at starting World War Three, by getting the superpowers to place missiles close to one another's borders. Why? Because supposedly mutants can handle the radiation that would kill off the regular humans. Yup, time to dust off that old chestnut again, the war between mutants and humans.

Anyway, MacTaggart sees the mutants and wants to fight fire with fire, so she contacts Xavier since he just has graduated with his thesis about genetic mutations in humans. After a little stint at the CIA convincing them of the need to recruit mutants against Sebastian Shaw and the Hellfire Club, that's just what they set about doing. Honestly, this whole government scenario could have been clipped right out of the movie and it wouldn't have been missed. But then again, if the CIA part had been clipped out, then you would have missed out on the cheap James Bond impression the movie makers were trying to use to cover up the fact that this is just the same old, tired X-Men movie plot we've seen three times before, just with a different cast. 

The movie comes to the Cuban Missile Crisis where we have our big (and second of only two) fight scene in the movie. Things are wrapped up tidily with the governments of the world fearing mutants (gee, I haven't seen that before), and Xavier at his home, which has now become a school for gifted youngsters. Ta-da!

Fassbender as Magneto was good, and actually better than Sir Ian. I actually would have sat through a movie of Magneto hunting down Nazi war criminals rather than this movie. McAvoy...well, he played a pretty arrogant Charles Xavier. Did he do a good job? Well if his job was to irk the shit out of me every time he was on the screen, then his mission was surely accomplished. Then we have the chubby Jennifer Lawrence playing Mystique...if awkward were an acting style, she would be garnishing awards a'plenty. Every single time she uttered the phrase, 'Mutant and proud.' I shuddered at how badly it was delivered and how awkward it felt in the script. But it wouldn't be a Bryan Singer production if we didn't have a gay allegory shoved in there somewhere no matter how out of place it felt.  

As for the other cast members, well, they were honestly forgettable and disposable. Even Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw was horrible. Think of one of the worst (least scary) Bond villains, and then bring it down another 100 fold, that's the character he played. 

Again, as I stated earlier in the review, there were only two fight scenes in this movie. Two, in a movie that runs two hours and eleven minutes. There are two cameos in the movie, one that's actually quite funny and the high point of the movie, and the other which was fun but not really necessary. 

The CGI was spotty in places, especially in the sub coming out of the water sequence, but other than that it was passable. The makeup on the other hand was bad when it came to the practical makeup on Beast. There's a scene in the air hangar when we first get to see the newly transformed Beast, and it looks like someone didn't glue the right part of the lip prosthetic on firmly enough. So all I ended up doing was staring at this hanging prosthetic wondering how it ever got past post-production. Anyway, enough with the tear down, let's get to the verdict.

If you're a fan of the Bryan Singer version of the X-Men, then you're in luck! Because this movie is just more of the same. Same plot, same characters, different actors, and the same lack of action. If you're like me and didn't care for Singer's version, then you're shit out of luck because you're getting more of the same, nothing new to see here. It wasn't Matthew Vaughn's fault, because he knows how to direct action movies and does it well, I put the blame directly on Bryan Singer's shoulders because this movie feels like he ghost directed it right back into the grave. I honestly hope Marvel can get the licensing for this property back from Fox and away from Bryan Singer, so that we can actually get a good representation of the X-Men done for once before I die. 

Rating: Rental. I'm lucky that I got a free movie pass due to the projectionist screw-up, otherwise I would have been pissed that I spent $6 on this.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Wonder Woman

Doing a little bit of artwork for a friend of mine. Here's the final inking of it.

With a flash

Without a flash

So that's my take on Wonder Woman. Still not done with this piece yet, since I'm going to color it with watercolors (hence the thicker looking paper). Oh, and her magic lasso spelling out the letters 'CME' was by request, in case you were wondering what that was all about. I'll post the finished picture soon. Let me know what you think of the piece so far.