Thursday, September 29, 2016

And into Halloween Season

So this Halloween isn't going to be about dedicating myself to watching a list of movies this year. I can't think of any right now because I have been watching a slough of horror flix from various release dates throughout the year already. I have been reading and writing a lot over the Summer months, so maybe I'll celebrate in that mode.

I hope to publish the now six year-old scenario "The Horrible Fate of the Haunted House Hunters" this month in time for a release date around the week before Halloween. It was originally a CoC session, but long since evolved into a Crawlspace event. Since it won't be on sale or "Pay What You Will" (or "Take it please I only only want hits") at Drive Thru RPG, I doubt that the timing will boost initial sales, but hey I will feel great at doing for the season.

Reading something new horror from a known contemporary author, like say Ben Sperduto or Dan Mills or Richard Lee Byers, is one way of keeping it real. I also have the original run, 1983 or 1984, of House of Mystery's I, Vampire in a TPB somewhere around the library. I think I'll finish it. Maybe, I'll look into some of Marvel horror characters as well.

Over the weekend just before Halloween, I am running two Crawlspace events at Beckett's new game store Weird Realms. They were supposed to be a part of grand opening festival, but things have been pushed back, so now the sessions will be private parties, over Friday and Saturday evening. The planned scenarios are "Detroit Death Metal Audition Apocalypse" for Friday's giving, and then "Ghost Story." G-Story is the actual sequel to The Horrible Fate. Though it isn't a Hoot, I intend on doing some serious party gaming here. Since we don't have to worry about customers, I am sure the other attendees will be in the mood as well.

Hopefully JerryTel shows up for some Zombie Action

Luckily I am off on the 31st of October, hmm maybe I should re-read that Zelanzy novella, so my porch of spookiness will be up and running. I am already buying candies, all of which have to be produced in the USA for this most American holiday, and have some props from previous years ready. I just might put a bit more effort than usual into the night's festivities though.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Suicide Squad

A couple of days ago I was able to remove my FacetuBe photo of an outtake of the Joker and Harlequin from the Suicide Squad movie. I had put it up when I first heard about the movie from supernatural comic book aficionado Ben Lathrop over a year ago. I promised myself I wouldn't take the shot down until after I had seen the movie. Considering I have been wanting some "street level Batman" since the  mega-apocalyptic installment of the Nolan Dark Knight trilogy. Frankly this looked like one of the few chances, I'd get for it back then. So while, I've always been more "meh" about the title featured than anything else, having both the Batman and Joker (the two "mythic level" icons of the DC streets) appear in it as only side characters meant that the DC comic book "street level" universe was going to be explored. Going to see it last Monday was the perfect finale for my vacation which had centered around GenCon.

I loved the movie . I am going to go see it probably two more times in theater and then buy the DVD and then watch it again. Then I'll watch the Blue Ray version available only online for me because those machines just suck.

The strongest point was the characters. With more main characters than Sergey Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkim, the story-telling still works. While Will Smith still eclipses the sun in this movie, the cast around him are allowed at least one shot each along side him. Guess what, Will Smith's Deadshot is a devoted parent with an unseen spouse off some where else in the world. Each of the characters do show some personality, will the direction and writing showing their individuality.

Especially nice is the fact that the audience is encouraged to find the hidden aspect to each of the protagonist villains as well as look for what makes the good guys interesting. Killer Croc is the scary Black Man that we all have to learn that he is indeed human. Diablo is the reformed esse that just can't ever go back. Enchantress is the cutting, goth girl that cleans up nice enough to bring home to mom. Captain Boomerang lives up being as big an ass, yet real enough guy, as anybody that would use the word "boomerang" in his nom de guerre. Amanda Waller is that manager down at the Unemployment Office that doesn't give a damn about your paperwork emergency. Harlequin is the liberated woman that is still daddy's little girl enough to be reminded that she is a victim of Stockholm syndrome whenever a villain needs to be self-righteous. Flagg is the capable hero that is just a little too self-indulgent to do much good for most around him. Slipnot is the gullible kid that we should all try not to be when we're 14.

Meanwhile Batman and the Joker never get too much depth. That works for me because I want more of them later and not from a whizz-bang production like this flik. Jared Leto has a pretty full vision of who his Joker is, though I suspect that the film's makers willfully decided to not let us see much more than some teaser material.

The action and the formula gets a little plodding and mechanical. I guess the editors and writer took a bit too much of the criticism of BatsVSupes too heart. The main characters, all 2,000 of them, are introduced in about 45 minutes of trailer material. The rest of the plot unfolds in "A to B to C" fashion and the twist leads to the final face off with two, not just one, boss monsters. I guess Ayer, the writer figured the over-used flashbacks would provide the magic required for the silver-screen to have emotion bamboozling to make it a truly memorable film. He should've just had the flashbacks be the action for the first 45 to 75 minutes, turned Enchantress and Flagg into a real love story, and then let Waller take over the world. The climax sequence, could then be the wonderful Ghost Busters homage that it was meant to be without feeling guilty.

Still the product good enough for Hollywood intellectuals to feel clever enough, with the revenue to prove it. Though I rate this movie a Bigfoot, on the Smurf to Godzilla scale, it'd be nice if film writers would write just a bit more than the comic book writers that they are getting their "inspiration" from.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Batman Versus Superman: Dawn of Justice

I have been dreading the arrival of this movie since I first heard about it. Zach Snyder did 300 which I hear is done frame by frame like the comic book by Frank Miller. As a movie, despite all the Homeric-eroticism, it is just a pathetic film. The trailers that I watched did not inspire me with confidence. Dudes in riot gear were bowing down to Superman and Batman was sneering at him through a rubber mask permanently set in a sneer saying a stupid line ("Do you bleed... You will). All I saw was more bad Frank Miller script, which I take to mean "bad storytelling with incomprehensible reasoning." The early reviews I read on the movie were awful. Words like "incomprehensible," "illogical," and "constipated" were being used in even the nicer ones.

Still on the day of its release, which was Thursday March 21st, despite its advertised March 22nd, I bought a ticket. Not just any ticket, but a "select" reserved seat which was available for $21 dollars. Like the worst of any William Castle movies from the 50s, the presentation was in 3-D, and the seats buckled and leaned back and forth with the action going on the screen in front of the ticket-holder. Luckily a friend gave me a "coupon" code, which bought me the ticket for $7 because I was a "true Batman fan." I had had a few beers and shot of Ardbeg (whiskey so bad it's green) before showing up. Seeing how awful the last Star Wars flik was, and the need for movie factories to use Trademarked franchises to sell train wrecks of motion pictures, I wanted to be pretty numb.

About ten minutes into the movie, I dialed back my seat controls to as low as it would allow-- it wouldn't let me just shut it off so I had to deal with a machine kicking my seat every few minutes or so. Around the time that Laurence Fishburne cracked his character's second joke, which I laughed at easily, I started letting my guard down about the movie. By the second action scene, I was in love. A little over two hours later, I was still in love and starting to respect Zach Snyder as not only a capable director, but a fan of Superman. From one over-aged adolescent to another, the man gets comic book and has done DC justice.

Batfleck is Bruce Wayne not just the Batman

Sure Superman is young and fresh. He always should be, but the Bat-Man is where every 35-plus fan of comic books is, at the height of their powers, but, to paraphrase Jeremy Iron's Alfred, not dead yet, despite at least two decades of trying. We get to see posh a cocktail party given by multi-billionaire then work in James Bond style espionage and hot chicks complete with fabulous shoulder blades and an accent. We also get to see him beat up that spare tire that men of a certain age carry around their waistline most of the time. A bit more seriously, the role of Bruce Wayne for all of its orphan porn, is probably better written than any other take on the character to date. This makes up for the 90s toy and booklet favorite, the "power-armor" tribute of the last part of the movie.

The Wonder Woman movie just might be as exciting as Wonder Woman

Both the smooth world-building and the later rock-em, sock-em part of the movie featured a Wonder Woman that was almost as interesting as the the history of the now seventy-something year-old character created by William Moulton Marston. The directing influences of this take of the princess of power have decided that since she is immortal that perhaps World War Two is a bit quaint for her introduction. Her pictured super-friends from 1918 was almost as exciting as Hans Zimmer's Led Zeppelin/Beethoven-inspired soundtrack around her.

Girlfriends around the world might disagree

This is the best superhero live-action flik ever. Call me a fanboy, which is rather rich considering my penchant for being disagreeable with much of recent comic book-based media production history (since 1988). I have a pretty specific criteria for what makes a good superhero flik. So far the professional reviews will not decrease my love of this motion picture.

What is my criteria for a good motion superhero flik?

1.) The viewer should understanding why a superhero is needed quickly
   BatsVSupes is at a disadvantage. It's been three years since Man of Steel came out introducing Amy Adam's Lois Lane to the world and that's like yet another four Marvel Comic's movies introducing female about 1,600 characters that mimicked the DC heroine. BUT this movie is a part of an on-going saga, and potential threats to Earth from outer space has been established.
   The movie re-capped and added detail to this threat as seen in Zach Snyder's first handling of Superman. It also introduces why a street-level superhero like the "bat-man" is paying attention to our planet's first extraterrestrial immigrant within fifteen minutes. To help you along, in case you're not a big MoS fan, there are plenty of sequences showing the superheroes and their place in the world around them.

2.) The action scenes should be understandable
   Since about Transformers: The Over-Budgeted Movie, Part One, there has been a tendency to make things so action-packed that no one in audience knows what is going, except for what the soundtrack is inferring. I've watched blurred information occur again and again from the Avengers and Star Wars VII, and most movies in-between.
   In this movie I watched: Superman save Lois Lane from Al-Shahbaab, Batman witnesses 9-11, Superman and Batman meet for the first time, and things get really more complicated. At no time did I have to ask myself 'what just happened?' This is not the film-makers' pretense to leave out mere-human comprehension for better understanding because of sound effects and music.
3.) Characterization is not a substitute for plot.
   If the superhero movies keep retelling the origin of a superhero while introducing a new cast along with the film-makers' current favorite villain (usually with more CGI than the last one), the franchise is about ripping off the audience's love of older, and probably better, movies.
   Okay Batman gets his story re-told here, but in the fictitious, and factitious, "Superman True Fans Club," he is a new character in this saga. If anything, a scene where he is defeating an established villain of the DC universe(s) should have been included.

And... ?

There about two hundred comic book titles that I would like to see made into live-action movies with just enough CGI to have them not suck. At the same time, I like film. What is a CGI-epic and CGI-driven franchises does not always fall into what a major motion picture should be. What I like about this movie is that it covered a lot of character history, in a single flik and without relying too much on noise and flash.
Dawn of Justice makes the movie that came before it a somewhat better tale to watch. I have to wait for the next one to get a fuller perspective of the cycle being presented. All that said, I have enjoyed this movie.

About the bad press

Someone must be paying for it.