When I heard the word that a new, “Non-Sam Raimi”, Spidey flick was in the works, I have to be honest as a nerd, I wasn't that excited. It's sad really …how quickly many nerds abandoned Raimi after the 3rd movie. How quickly they forget how successful Spider-Man 1 & 2 were and how they both helped usher in a new era of comic book films. What is really sad is that Raimi was not entirely to blame for the 3rd film turning out the way it did. The studios love to mess with and kick around their directors just to show them who is really in control and Sony is no exception. Usually it's Fox who can really destroy of film by micro managing it. For a good example of that watch the special features from the Alien 3 Quadrilogy Box Set. But in this case it was Sony who really pushed to have Venom in the film even though Raimi was not sold on the idea and had already had a script with the Sandman in it. What resulted was less than ideal. But despite that, Raimi’s run on Spider-Man was awesome.
Yet even though I liked Raimi’s films, I am still okay with any comic book character getting rebooted after a director leaves because this is kind of what happens in the comic world as well. We get ret-cons, reboots, retellings, re-dos and alternated universes versions all the time. Some new writer/artist gets a new idea for a look or story angle and off they go with a new take on a beloved character. It’s only natural that movies follow suit with this sort of thing as well. In Japanese anime this happens all the time. The new version of an old anime may even have the exact same voice cast as the old take on the characters. They simply just say this story is a new take and is not related to the old version and go on from there. Often the success or failure of rebooting a franchise is more about the take they choose to make and the timing than it is anything else. This is my concern for the new film Amazing Spider-Man.
The new Take? From all that I have read and seen, this new film has decided to revisit the origin story of Spider-Man. Not so new, yet a very difficult task to undertake. If the film tries too hard to distinguish itself from Raimi’s film we may get a Spider-Man that does not resemble the comic but if it does not distinguish itself in a strong enough way this new film doesn’t make its own mark. That is a tough place to be. We see this struggle play out with some of the choices the film has made. Things like: adding back the web shooters; picking Gwen Stacy over MJ as the love interest; making Peter less nerd and more modern teenage hoodie hip; and adding a really awesome cast of actors. Quite the heroic choice. The film makers really have to web shoot there way over several hurdles to beat out or compete with summer films that don’t have as much baggage to contend with. After all that, with a sprained ankle it would still have to stick the landing and we haven’t even touched on the timing of this film.
The timing is kind of off for the new Amazing Spider-Man to come out right now. Why would a studio choice to put this film between not only the Avengers movie but up against the final Nolan Batman Film as well? Do we need to have every comic movie go head to head in order to do well and make money? Does it have to come out right in the middle of summer? Why not hold off and put it out in November when Harry Potter use to rake in the dough? It never seem to hurt that movie franchise to have its run at the end of November and roll into the December winter holiday season. When good films are released so close to one another and with money being tight in a down economy movie audiences have to make tighter choices on which films will get their money. People make quick lists of which films they want to see and with Spiderman’s baggage it quickly falls down on the list under the Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers.
With movies being 10 dollar or more that puts Spidey at the 30 Dollar mark in movie money spent in the summer. I want to see it. I really do. But, I only have so much money to spend. I don't think with reviews like: "it's good but not greater than or equal to The Avengers movie" .... are going to make me part with my money anytime soon. Unfortunately Spidey, I’m going to have to catch you on Netflix.
I hope Amazing Spider-Man does enough money to justify a sequel! I am pretty sure that that one stands a better chance of being watched higher on my list than this one does with all the competition this new one has this year. Anyhow... I wish you well Spidey and great new cast members but unless their having a free screening at Comic Con 2012 I am okay waiting to check you out at a later date. My wallet is very okay with it!
According to Wikipedia an: "Otaku ( おたく / オタク ) (oh-tah-kooh) is a Japanese term used to refer to people with obsessive interests, particularly anime, manga, or video games." (1)
...And that description definitely applies to yours truly! And for this Blog entry, Ole Pappy W. will serve as your guide into the world of Japan's greatest import: ANIME! Well... next to ninja, shrimp flipping, hibachi grill, cooks. It's a close second. Let's get started!
Have you ever wondered what those crazy, blue haired, individuals you see roaming around that strange foreign cartoon section of DVD's at the local Best Buy are watching? Ever been slightly curious after seeing the special features from the Matrix why they mention Japanese animation as such a major influence? Perhaps your curiosity was so great you picked up one of those Japanese cartoons only to find that after you watched it you needed extensive therapy and a 12 bottles of Visine to get the images out of your eyes? Well, your in luck scared citizen. This list of awesome Anime pics is all for you!
It is true that without an Otaku Guide to help you pick a decent Anime your experience could be a nightmare that may require Years of deep Cognitive Behavioral intervention and that is why ole Pappy is here to help you avoid the pain and trauma caused the horror of watching Bad Anime Gone A-rye. Pappy's hear to tell you not all Anime is bad! No..Really! True and good Anime can be a rich and rewarding experience...one filed with flights of fancy and brave bold new adventures. So put off your reservation for just a little while and let me take you through a list of the good stuff. Hold on to your seats Space Cowboy! This list could just change your whole view of the many wonderful words of Japanese Animation.
The first thing you should know about Japanese animation is that it is not just one genre of entertainment. Japanese Animation covers not just kiddie cartoons but the whole gambit of genres. Unlike America, Animation in Japan is nothing more than another means by which viewers enjoy all genres and stories. And unlike the social shame felt here in the United States when one decides to read a Graphic Novel on a Bus or In Public, In Japan this is an every day occurrence and is often encouraged.
That's Right, In Japan even older people read Comics! They call there comics in Japan: MANGA. It is from these many Manga novels and comics that Anime got it's start. Not so here in the US. Thanks to the likes of Disney and Warner Brothers, The U.S. sees animation as solely the domain of young children and over-sized nerd fanboys. Which to many American fans of Anime is REALLY Freaking Frustrating! In Japan Anime is for everyone! It has every kind of genre from things for kids to really bad awful crazy porn fetishes. That's why it's important to know a thing or too about Anime before you go diving in and watching any old thing.
So with that being said lets look at some Amine that has been greatly admired for some time now by fans of the "Genres within a Genre":
1. Number one is Akira...an Anime film made in 1988 that dealt with fallout of a crazy post-apocalyptic Japan filled with an intrusive government, terrorists and rival motorcycle gangs. Akira deals a lot with the issues out of a post apocalyptic world and illustrates quite well the pains, thoughts and fears that have greatly affected Japanese Culture prior to World War II even to this day. The ending may be a little much for some American audiences but the visuals and action sequence may make up for that lack of Japanese sensibilities a non-anime watcher may have. So it's a good introduction into a different way of thinking about the role animation can play in it's expression of humanity. It also has a really sweet motorcycle! What more could you ask for! Akira is an R rated film for good reason and is not made for a child audience but It's an awesome film and well worth a watch for fans of the SciFi genre.
2. In no particular order (you should watch um all) is one of the most fun action pack SciFi, martial art, bounty hunting Anime's of all time...Cowboy Bebop. Cowboy Bebop is a series. Now in Japan most Anime shows or series do not go on endlessly until audiences get tired and stop watching. No, they usually run for an entire series and then end. Most of the arcs build toward a climatic finish and often resolve themselves entirely. If they do a movie, it usually takes place sometime between the series or after as an addendum to the story line and arcs established in the series. This is the case with Cowboy Bebop the movie. This way of making films from TV and not insulting the audience by reexplaining every little thing can be quite refreshing and unique for American movie goers. since you don't have to have your intelligence insulted every time your TV characters finally make it to the big screen. They assume if you like the movie you may want to go back and check out the series if you haven't already.
The cool thing about Cowboy Bebop the movie is that it does take place close to the end of the series and can be watched as a stand alone film or with the series as an added part of the overall series story arc.
The story centers around a rag tag crew of characters that make their living as bounty hunters who catch bad guys to make ends meet. Spike is a cocky, crazy haired, baddy who beats up, shoots and often flies his way into any situation to catch his bounty. Faye is the equally cocky and very conniving bounty hunter with a wit and sarcasm to match that of Spikes. Jet is the giant, older, but no less tough, owner of the spaceship (the Bebop) who, unfortunately for him, is the only real responsible member of the team. And then there is the odd and peculiar, computer genius, kid known as Ed. What can I say about Ed? Ed's a little loony to say the least and a lot of fun to quote randomly to people who have know clue what your talking about. "Lympho, Lympho, Lymphocytes"!
Whether you watch the movie or the series, Cowboy Bebop has got everything you need for a real good time. Space battles, gun fights, martial arts, and bounty hunters that often shoot first. The soundtrack is completely awesome and if you like jazz or catchy tunes it's not a hard soundtrack to find even in big chain stores. The series is PG-13 for the occasional bounty hunter expression of anger and occasional cheeky situation. But nothing you wouldn't see on prime time TV! Be warned... Cowboy Bebop, like crack, is very addicting.
3. Though many Anime flicks and shows are SciFi or Fantasy oriented, a lot of them are not. Which brings me to my third choice...Grave of the Fireflies. If your going to watch this movie you are definitely going to have to bring a box of Kleenex. This one's a tearjerker. This movie is by far the saddest Anime I have ever seen and I've had to watched Pokemon several times (nephew).
Grave of the Fireflies takes place after the bomb was dropped during World War II and deals with sharply and sadly of how two newly orphaned siblings struggle to survive. This film is more than critically acclaimed by Anime fans but film buffs of all kind. It's a touching tale about what happens to innocence in times of war and how the human spirit struggle to survive. Grave of the Fireflies is not Rated but is a PG-13 type story for the harsh subject matter.
4. Funny thing about Anime ...sometimes people have seen it and didn't even know they were watching it. Transformers, Speed Racer, Robotech and Battle of the Planets were all children's Anime slipped in with American animation and most people didn't even notice. The same is true for my next Anime choice...Spirited Away.
The folks at Disney in an attempt to appease their guilt at brainwashing Americans into thinking animation is only for children stretched out their big mouse-like hands and decided to distribute some real Anime classics by a great Anime artist known as Hayao Miyazaki. In Japan Miyazaki is a big name and so when Disney started playing distributing his films it was nice to see him get some the wonderful attention and addoration that he deserves. Most of Miyazaki's stuff is fantasy oriented and deal usually with young children in world of fantasy. I would recommend anything Miyazaki has done. But my personal favorite is Spirited Away. It's about a little girl who gets drawn into a world of odd, amusing and sometimes scary creatures. It's a beautifully illustrated movie and well worth a watch. Spirited Away is PG for its somewhat scarier characters but a very light PG!
5. My next pic is a Japanese Samurai Anime with a a Hip Hop Twist known as Samurai Champloo. Now, I don't have any clue what a Champloo is but I do know that I really like this series about a 2 samurai wielding, wild, Ronin-type guys and crazy young girl roaming the country side in search for a Samurai that smells of sunflower and might be the long lost father of the young precocious girl. Along the way they encounter many dangers and villains and sword dueling ensues! It's fun, snarky and full of action for 26 wonderful sword-wielding episodes. It is PG-13esk for that a fore mentioned sword-wielding oh.. did I mention the sword-wielding?
6. Are you a fan of Angel and Buffy? If so, this next Anime is for you! It's called Witch Hunter Robin. True to it's title, Witch Hunter Robin is about a special government task force that hunts down secret cases involving magic users. Robin is a young girl with a special talent for fire-starting who helps her team catch these genetically altered magic users. This show is not as dark or occult as one would think. The magic users are only able to use magic because they carry a very special gene. The show is more like Bones meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer but with a much more serious and dramatic take on the the whole hunting bad guys genre.
like most Anime Series, it's 26 episodes and its very well drawn. Like Buffy or Angel , the subject matter would make this a strong PG-13 and depending on your views on fictitious magic this may not be for you but if you like a good ole cop/monster catching agent show Witch Hunter Robin is the one for you.
7. Last, but by no means least, is a little film that inspired the Warchowski Brothers' Matrix Trilogy and by inspired I mean totally ripped off and when I mean ripped off, I mean everything from the green scrolling letters at the beginning to being hardwired to the net in the back of the head. The film is called Ghost In the Shell (GITS for short) and is about a secret Japanese government agency known as Section 8 that deals exclusively with cyber terrorist, cyber criminals and the occasional computer that decides to go sentient and kill a bunch of people. In this future, people have cyberneticly enhanced their bodies to the point where they are more machine than they are flesh. Some have even made the complete transfer to a cybernetic body. Everyone can hardware into the net in the back of their head and or recreate themselves in both the virtual and the real world. It's a beautiful mix of both animated hand-drawn images and realistic computer graphics. If you watch this film and don't at least think "wow how beautiful" then perhaps Anime is not for you. It has everything from guns, tanks, aircraft battles to martial arts and government espionage.
The original movie was based on the series of Japanese Manga Comics created by a Japanese Frank Miller-like equivalent known as Masamune Shirow. His Ghost in the Shell Manga has gone on to inspire this movie, it's sequel, as well as a series that is based more on the original Mangas than the films were.
The two films are one take on the Manga and the 2 series are another take on the Manga. It's kind like how they did the Superman Returns film based on the Superman comics but it had nothing to do with the TV show Smallville; which was also based on the comics. But to make it a little confusing the Ghost in the Shell Series did their own movie that ties to their show. So it would be like if they did a Smallville movie.
So Where to start? Start with this first movie.... If you like it, watch the first Series called Ghost in the Shell stand Alone Complex. Remember they are not tied together but they are very similar. So keep in mind that the series will not build towards the movie at all but relies more on the Comic Mangas for its inspiration.
If you still like the first series and your starting to get GITS withdraws, watch the second series called Ghost in the Shell S.A.C. 2nd GIG.
If by now you are addicted and you can't get enough, watch the TV film called Ghost in the Shell S.A.C. Solid State Society. This film will tie in the show so don't confuse it with the movies.
After you've sold your blood to get another fix of GITS Anime, your family has left you and it's still not enough, watch the sequel to the original movie. since it's all that is left. You may have to go back and watch the first film because this is it's sequel and has nothing to do with the series. I leave it for last since it's not nearly as good as the rest of the stuff but what do you care! At this point, your an Addict!
For you N00b's to Anime, it's probably best to just stick with first movie and maybe the series But I'm tell you it's addictive so don't be shocked if you a make it all they to the bottom of the list!
So there you have it... Uncle Pappy Wolf's Otaku List for Non-Anime Lovers! Feel free to let us know your favorites or what you think of our picks. We'd love to hear from you! Just don't blame Pappy if you find you want to dye your hair blue and hang out in that strange section of the Best Buy!
We got our 1st look at Captain America's stunt costume for the up & coming Captain America film! Yes, ....ultra technical, nerd, internet, person I know it's just a stunt costume from the film but I'm still not at all impressed. Now when I was at Comic Con and Marvel was unveiling their Avenger Line up and some kid was getting stabbed in the eye, I remember thinking then how unimpressed I was that Chris Evans was playing the role Captain America. Not the kind of pissed off kind of unimpressed or the "What do you mean Norton's Out Kevin Feige" kind of unimpressed, But it is a close 3rd or 4th from there (Kevin is the man in charge over at Marvel Films).
Even during the Q & A I never got the sense that Chris could pull off the Flag Wearing Super Solider from an era long gone. Now I have seen most of the films Chris has been in and though he does a decent job of playing the sarcastic foil, I don't see how his brand of acting translates to playing the Cap. Now don't get me wrong, I don't entirely dislike Chris Evans or anything. But Come on... do you really think he has the acting chops to chew up the screen with Robert Downey Jr. the way Capt. Does when he goes toe to toe with ole Tony Stark? NO WAY. At least not early in his career.
Now Marvel, if you're trying to save a buck, cuz you can't afford anymore actors in your Budget, (I Feel a Cheeeapskates sneeze coming on), that doesn't mean you have to skimp on quality. Jeremy Renner has shown he can pull of his acting chops with that little Oscar nomination thing but you (in your infinite wisdom) cast him as a level above an extra in the Avengers flick. You've pretty much relegated him to playing a character that no mainstream audience even knows exists. He would've been a strong choice to play the Captian and if he was willing to be Hawkeye ( the comic charter not the MASH character) I'm pretty sure he would've taken the job. But still not convinced Marvel. Still want to go cheap ? How about up and coming movie actor who's a looker with the lady folk? how about Wentworth Miller of the TV Show Prison Break? I saw him on the Resident Evil Panel and let me tell you he has a bit of a fan base in the geek world as well as pulling that all elusive female action film money. Not to mention that if he's willing to doing Resident Evil 4, it's a safe bet he's not demanding Terrance Howard money.
No, instead you pick a guy who, now, ever time I see him raise that Shield I expect him to shout ..."FLAME ON" and say something sarcastic and jump off a building. Not just were these other actors overlooked in the Avenger lineup, rumor has it Jon Favreau was overlooked to direct the Avengers pic because Kevin Feige at Marvel thought Jon might ask for more money. I wonder who's getting all this saved money...Is it you Kevin? You mean to tell me the Mouse over at Disney is looking to save a few bucks because things have been rough at the Magic Kingdom now that they own the whole of Marvel. I don't think so. I think Kevin has a bit of a control issue. That would be my guess. Only time will tell. I SO HOPE I'm wrong here.. I never want any of these films to do bad but as for now my money is on Thor and I'll wait a bit to see if Chris Evans proves me wrong. See that Chris I am routing for you.
Even though at this moment Captain America doesn't look all that promising there is one exception. At this moment, the strongest redeeming hope I have for the movie Cap. is that they got the perfect guy to play the Red Skull. I saw a 7 minute scene from the movie Captain America and let me tell you Hugo Weaving is the perfect choice to play the Iconic baddie. He was great and wonderful to watch. So let's hope his villain does what the Joker did for the Dark Knight Film. All will be revealed by 2012.
The Crazy Biblically Illiterate folks Westboro Baptist Church that Protest Military Funerals are at it again but this time they will be protesting for 45 minutes onThursday (1:15 p.m. to 2 p.m.) at the San Diego Comic Con!
According to these fine folks... Romans 9:13 says God Hates Nerds and I quote:
"Just as it is written: "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."
Hmmm...and here I always thought of Esau as more of the hunter/jock type and not a Nerd at all. After all, It was Jacob that was one of the first Cosplayers in history for dressing up like his hairy, Chewbacca like, brother to fool his father Issac into giving him his birthright! But what do I know! I'm just a novice biblical scholar and a gentleman. Who am I kidding...I'm not a gentleman! I'm just a scoundrel with a propensity for picking up a book now and again. You should try it Westboro Baptist Church you might enjoy it!
Why 45 Min. to protest the Nerd Mecca that is the San Diego Comic Con? Why not a full hour? My guess is the fine folks from Westboro Baptists want to go to Old Town for the first 15 minutes to protest the use of refried beans according to 2 Samuel 23:11-12.
Shammah son of Agee the Hararite was the third of the Three. The Philistines had mustered for battle at Lehi, where there was a field full of lentils. Israel fled before the Philistines, but Shammah took his stand at the center of the field, successfully defended it, and routed the Philistines. Another great victory for God!"
MMM...Beans are Holy! Well, at least my moms Beans are! As for Westboro all I can say is there not as Holy as my Mom's Beans and only half as entertaining! Selah .and Thank God for That!
This Weeks Review: Kick- Ass the Comic and the Movie!
First off...One of my favorite things about reading literature is seeing it through the eyes of my own imagination. But not just through my eyes alone but seeing it through other’s eyes as well. That is why I LOVE to read stuff before the cinematic incarnation of the printed ink is made.
I remember reading through V for Vendetta and Watchmen then catching the director's take on the old Mad Moore's Masterpieces. I loved Frank Miller's 300 and was majorly jazzed years later that a film incarnation would ever be made based page for page from the novel. Even with a few frustrating yet still entertaining changes thrown in the film was just as rewarding as the comic. Not all of them have been gems, I remember scrambling to finish Michael Crichton Book "Sphere" before it was an all star cast motion picture only to hate not just the last few chapters of the book but also watch the boring part of the novel painful portrayed on the big screen.
Now as much as I love reading the source material, I’m not one of those purest who thinks the film can never be made into a movie unless it drips every comic panel and or word from the source material. I for one have seen films that are ten times better as a movie than they ever where as a piece of literature. The biggest example for me would be the movie The Crow; which would happen to be my all time favorite adaptation of a comic. James O'Barr's popular but overly dark graphic novel was not nearly as tender and sentimental as its film counterpart. The fact that director Alex Proyas bothered to not only name the title character but give him a heart as well, Elevated the essence of the story even greater than the source material.
So when it comes to Kick-Ass my nerd need to read the source material first was no exception. But it almost didn’t happen. I cut it pretty close. I read the last few pages the day before the film came out. So…what did I think? I rather enjoyed the comic more than I thought. At First, I was apprehensive to read Millar’s comic. In the past I’ve found Millar’s need to be a little more violent in a Nihilistic way to be at the very best distracting and unnecessary for the usually cool premise to work. Which is why I was not a big fan of the comic Wanted; which I feel is the comic equivalent to Vanity Fair (the novel without a hero not the magazine). I didn’t really like any of the characters at all. But the movie was good …heh.
Back to Kick-Ass! As I started reading I was pleasantly surprised. Yes it was violent and not for young kids…but the lead character was relatable and the proper amount of Nerdtastic to hold my interest. Once more as a comic, It did not try to take itself too seriously and though it had a lot of blood it was the kind of over the top blood one finds in zombie George Romero movie. To me it was not at all realistic to me. Its pop cultural references and its self-awareness to the comic genre were very refreshing to read. Not only was the comic somewhat warning its readers of the craziness of dressing up as a pajama wearing vigilante but it also gave us the over the top fun of the Super Hero world.
Now for the movie, I liked it. I liked it as much as the comic. It had all the same kinds of things the comic had and even toned down the violence a little so as to allow for the story to unfold even more. Could I do without the vulgar Hit-Girl..sure but I think the whole thing should not be taken so seriously. It was fun.
So how does it compare to other comic film incarnations? Well, it’s way better than any Fantastic Four film but not nearly as good as Iron Man or The Dark Knight. Yeah, that’s a pretty big gap. So it’s more between Wanted (the film) and yet not as good as Watchmen (the film or the comic).
In the end, I just want my art, whether in book, comic or celluloid form to be Good. Kick-Ass (the film) gets 3.40 paws out of 5.