Monday, April 27, 2015

Crisis on Infinite Thoughts Will Return ...

I'm off on vacation and during that time, posts are going on hiatus. In the meantime, feel free to explore past articles, reviews, countdowns, and more! If you haven't read them before (or just want to take another look) feel free to browse through some of my favorite articles.

Greatest Fictional Weapons

Captain America's Shield
Spider-Man's Web Shooters
Thor's Hammer Mjolnir
The Infinity Gauntlet
The Cosmic Cube
Iron Man's Greatest Armors

Movie Reviews

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Retro Review: Predator

Decades of experimental and often misguided movies have shown that the blending of multiple film genres can often lead to a mess of a movie. The simple truth is that it is downright tough to appeal to fans of more than one genre within a single film. Released in 1987 and spawning multiple inferior sequels in the decades since, Predator is a film that many enjoy but often overlook in the larger scope of movies.

But what many don’t understand is that Predator strikes an incredible balance between action, twists, and star performances. Best of all, Predator pulls a mid-film twist that shows real intelligence on the part of director John McTiernan and writers Jim and John Thomas. Predator is half action movie, half science fiction, and all Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime. Movies don’t get much more fun than this.

The setup, and really the entire plot in general, are incredibly simple. Delta Force Major Dutch Schaefer (Schwarzenegger) and his team of commandos are called in to rescue a group of officials held hostage by rebels in the fictional country of Val Verde. While these men are the best of the best, what they do not realize is that they and the local woman they have taken with them for information are being hunted in the jungle by something far deadlier than them. What starts out as a testosterone-fueled shoot ‘em up like Schwarzenneger’s Commando or one of Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo sequels gets the rug pulled out from under it when the deadly alien only referred to as The Predator begins taking out these soldiers one by one.

Is there much more to Predator than that? Not really. Does it need to be more than this when everything in this film is so much fun? Absolutely not. This film has no pretense of being more than a really well-executed thrill ride, so those looking for deeper meaning may not find Predator to their liking. But what this film does well, it does with the best of them.

Monday, April 20, 2015

A History of Batman vs Superman Fights

The official Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer is here, stirring up all kinds of buzz, theories, and controversies concerning the first ever meeting of The Man of Steel and The Dark Knight in a live action film. But Batman and Superman have a very long history of coming to blows in both comic books and cartoons. Through their 75-year history, these two heroes have clashed multiple times due to misunderstandings, mind control, and just plain old anger toward one another. Since these two characters are easily the most iconic heroes in the world, both sides have their staunch supporters in this titanic battle.

But why should Batman and Superman fight in the first place? Both men are heroes and are often depicted as good friends, even though their temperaments and ideologies are often at cross purposes. Sure, they both pursue justice, protect millions of people, and refuse to kill their enemies, but Batman is a dark symbol of vengeance while Superman is a bright icon of hope. Their drastically different personalities are bound to lead to a metaphorical and sometimes physical clash.

Putting aside personal preferences, who would really win in a fight? Batman is a tactical genius with access to powerful technology through his wealth and intelligence. He's the peak of what a human can be, even though he's flawed and makes mistakes. Superman is an all-powerful alien who uses his incredible powers for the good of his adopted world. He may be an outsider, but he's the symbol of what humanity can be. He is the ultimate immigrant who has taken on our ideals.

In all reality, Superman should beat Batman in a straightforward clash. After all, The Man of Steel can fly at the speed of sound, is invulnerable to most weapons, and is strong enough to topple mountains. But this is the world of superheroes, where anything can happen. As long as the writing is good enough, readers should be able to go along with these many battles and their various outcomes. Unfortunately, that is sometimes not the case.

So from the iconic to the downright lame, here's a look at the many times Superman and Batman have fought each other over the decades, along with the deciding factor in their fights and who the true winner was in the end.

The Dark Knight Returns

When comic book fans think of The Man of Steel fighting The Dark Knight, many first think of the climactic battle of Frank Miller’s opus The Dark Knight Returns. It’s also the most heated topic of debate concerning these two iconic heroes fighting one another. In this future-set alternate reality, and older Batman and Superman fight when The Man of Steel is ordered to bring in the rogue Caped Crusader. The two men meet in Crime Alley (where Bruce’s parents were murdered) and clash. But Batman has a plan – he’s wearing powered armor to augment his strength and durability, has a sonic gun, shocks Superman with Gotham’s entire power grid, and smashes his foe after a timely Kryptonite attack from Green Arrow. And when he has Superman at his mercy, he tells him “I want you remember, Clark, in all the years to come, in your most private moments, I want you to remember my hand at your throat. I want you to remember the one man who beat you.” Then Batman dies of a heart attack. Or does he?

The Deciding Factor: Superman is majorly weakened. While Batman has the power armor, it’s more effective because Superman was caught in a nuclear blast previously and is eventually hit with a Kryptonite arrow.

The Winner: Batman, in likely his most decisive victory on the list.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Daredevil on Netflix Review: Episodes 7-13

After covering the first half of the brand new season of Daredevil on Netflix, I continue my review of the latest and darkest entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And if you thought that the first six episodes were gritty, shocking, and violent, then you’re about to be blown away with what happens in the final seven. It’s clear that Daredevil is a show that is willing to take some chances and go to some very dark places. For the most part, the back half of the season is a rousing success, although there are some minor stumbling blocks along the way to the show’s triumphant finale.

Be warned if you have not finished Season 1 of Daredevil, there will be plenty of spoilers

After the end of episode 6, it’s clear that the show is now ramping up into the inevitable confrontation between Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk, as well as anyone else who may seek to take down The Kingpin. However, there are some strangely slow pieces to the back half of this season, as the show takes its time getting to the final showdown. That’s not to say that there are glaring weaknesses here, but when some characters hem and haw about their decisions to take down Fisk, it grows frustrating over a longer span of multiple episodes.

While Daredevil is a strong mix of the superhero and crime genres, it’s clear that this is a Marvel Studios production. Of course Daredevil and Kingpin are going to have one final fight at the climax of this season. But because there are 13 episodes, we all know that it won’t happen until the end of the final entry. The time spent getting there can feel like the wheels are being spun just a bit too obviously, especially during the 11th and 12th episodes – “The Path of the Righteous” and “The Ones We Leave Behind.” Thankfully, the momentum of the season as a whole and the strength of each character propels the series through these duller moments.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Daredevil on Netflix Review: Episodes 1-6

After revolutionizing the superhero genre on the big screen, Marvel Studios has set its sights on television. And while the ABC series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  is in its second season and the first season of Agent Carter has come and gone, the Netflix Original Series Daredevil is truly the game changer that those two series could have been. In short, Daredevil is a supremely well-crafted and entertaining series that finally does live action justice to its long-loved titular character.

Daredevil follows Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), a blind lawyer living in Hell’s Kitchen, NY, who uses his enhanced senses to fight crime as a masked vigilante. While partnered with lawyer Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) and secretary Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll), Murdock takes on various cases that all seem to have a criminal connection. Meanwhile, criminal kingpin Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) slowly unveils his plans to remold Hell’s Kitchen and gain control of all crime in the area. With both men embracing their destinies, it’s clear they are on a collision course.

Of important note, Daredevil is rated TV-MA for its mature content. While there is some harsh language, it’s mostly the brutal violence that earns the series its rating. When Murdock jumps into action, he puts his enemies through the ringer. People don’t go down easily and there are plenty of broken bones, snapped wrists, deep cuts, and many more brutal injuries. But it’s the criminals that inflict the worst of the violence, much of it enough to cause gasps and grimaces in audiences. While the show does have restraint in what it will explicitly show, this is by far the most violent entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But this is the atmosphere the show wants, and it handles it superbly.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Greatness of Daredevil - The Man Without Fear

It's the 50th anniversary of Daredevil and Marvel Studios is set to premiere the Netflix Original Series Daredevil, hopefully finally giving The Man Without Fear his proper live action due. While the mainstream public may first think of Ben Affleck’s weak, leather-clad 2003 film, Daredevil has been known and loved by comic book fans for decades. First debuting in April 1964 and created by writer Stan Lee and artist Bill Everett, Daredevil has been a mainstay of the Marvel Comics Universe year after year. But while die-hard Daredevil fans have long supported the character, there are so many more who are set to discover what makes Matt Murdock and his crimson-clad alter ego one of the greatest comic book characters of all time.

And once you’re a Daredevil fan, you’re a Daredevil fan for life. From dark vigilante dramas to epic ninja battles to swashbuckling superhero adventures, Daredevil has taken part in some of the finest superhero comic books of all time. He’s a character fans can really sink their teeth into and love for countless reasons.

Matt Murdock is a morally righteous man with a shocking dark side that he must continually fight in all aspects of his life. Catholic guilt plays a major role in the character, underlying many of his tortured choices that are only exacerbated by the countless tragedies he has endured. But that only makes him a symbol of courage, charging into battle no matter the odds. It's not just blindness that Daredevil overcomes to fight crime and save lives, it's his own inner demons.

So whether you are interested in understanding more about the hero who is soon to be everyone’s new favorite Marvel character or just want a better look at The Man Without Fear, take a deep dive into the strength of Daredevil and his wild history in comic books.