*GREAT CAESAR’S GHOST THE FOLLOWING POST CONTAINS SPOILERS*

Superhero films encompass an odd crossroads at…

What’s that? Why haven’t I been writing and why am I now writing again?

Because shut up, that is why.

Anyway, Superhero films encompass an odd crossroads at which many conflicting elements collide. You might not need someone to tell you, but comic books are not films and vice versa.

And as such, one shouldn’t be expected to directly translate into the other. It’s only fairly recently that comic book films should be expected to be decent or well-done pieces of cinema and it’s something that we as nerds are entirely too blessed to have.

But too often, as comic book fans, do some of us forget that these films are not being made for us. Well they ARE, of course, but they’re also being made for people who have no idea who these characters are. They’re being made for people who only know these characters through their animated personas or through some other popular iteration of them. They’re being made to be some youngster’s definitive version of who these characters are.

This past weekend I watched Man of Steel. At 24 years old, I’ve never been a lifetime Superman fan. Indeed, until about a half-decade ago, I held fast to the popular opinion that Superman is boring–that to LIKE Superman means you’re boring.

That was until I read a story called Superman for All Seasons by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale.

In it I didn’t see a big blue boy scout who looked down his nose at other superheroes for their more “extreme” methods. He wasn’t invincible. He wasn’t infallible. He was just trying to be a good person.

This was my Superman.

And as I watched Man of Steel, I couldn’t help but see the resemblances. Sure, it might not resemble Superman for All Seasons in any other fashion, but Henry Cavill’s earnest, honest and vulnerable Clark Kent was the one that made me fall in love with the character.

It certainly helps that the film surrounding him was very enjoyable. Man of Steel isn’t without faults–it’s certainly a strange film that straddles blockbuster stupidity with quiet contemplation–but it works both as a sci-fi drama and a superhero film. Only Thor has been similarly successful in doing that.

But THE thing that many comic book fans who disliked the film were a few moments in the film, and few others.

One of these I actually somewhat agree with; in the film, when Superman does battle with Zod and the Kryptonians, it results in some fairly widespread destruction. Particularly, during the film’s climax, the Kryptonians bring their “World Engine” to bear on opposite sides of the Earth. The actually “engine” part of the contraption plants itself in the Indian Ocean while the Kryptonian’s ship ends up in Metropolis, fueling the terraforming terrors transformation (BECAUSE COMIC BOOKS!).

Anyway, the “World Engine” creates quite the mess, leveling nearly all of Metropolis while Superman tries to dismantle the machine in the Indian Ocean. Many people seemed to think–along with the following sky-scraper-shattering duel with Zod–that this felt uncomfortably like Supes was showing a disregard for human life.

I agree, it was uncomfortable to see some of the scenes of wanton destruction and that at times it felt like too much. But at the same time, I saw the film as a whole. I saw the moments that led up to this fight and the character that was developed in this film and while I agree Superman in the comics would have saved everyone.

But again, this is world and character building. Obviously, Man of Steel is following the old Superman mythos, but at the same time it’s also trying to build one for itself; one that people can love and latch onto. Furthermore, it’s never explicitly shown that people are dead, dying or have died. It’s being a tad harsh to just assume that Clark remorselessly let people die as he was battling Zod.

And of course this leads to the biggest moment of contention in the film. At the end of their fight, Superman has Zod subdued. Zod is beaten, but he’s also a man without a purpose and thus more crazed than ever. In a final act of defiance to Superman, Zod targets the first nearby civilians he can see and attempts to burn them alive with his heat vision. Clark fights to control Zod, but the beaten Kryptonian flat out tells him that he’s going to have to kill him to stop him. The blistering blasts of Zod’s heat vision are mere inches away from these civilians and Clark is begging Zod not to make him do it. Zod does not listen.

So Clark, in a moment of weakness, does the only thing he believes he can do to spare any more lives and kills General Zod; he breaks his neck.

This moment, and the following moment of quiet shock was not a moment of victory. It was not the triumphant end to a Superman rebirth that one might expect (particularly in an initial offering). What this was was the definitive example that this Superman–a Superman who I can identify with and look up to more than any other and I think that Man of Steel whole-heartedly earned that moment.

It never sells it as something good. It never sells it as something marking anything more than a failure for a man who is still learning to be a hero.

And some people can’t understand that. Some people don’t want to understand that simply based on the fact that that’s not what THEIR Superman would do. Superman would have found another way. Superman ALWAYS finds another way.

And I agree, Superman doesn’t kill, but did anybody seem to think for a second that perhaps the filmmakers realized they needed a REASON for Clark not to kill anybody? Shouldn’t Clark need motivation for FINDING another way?

After all, the Kryptonians just leveled an entire major city. Superman would be justified in killing them all, yet he holds back on them because 1.) they represent the last of a race he just discovered he is a part of and 2.) because he is, again, genuinely a good person who does not want to kill.

Yet he was forced to and, yes, that opens up a hell of a lot of possibilities in the future. Will killing Zod haunt him? Will he be presented with a similar situation in the future, yet find that elusive other way?

The problem I have with all the complaints is that, rather than look at the film from the standpoint of… well… a film adaptation–one with reverence, affection and respect for the character–so many seem to be focusing on why Man of Steel doesn’t fit into their individual mold of Superman. That somehow makes the entirety of Man of Steel irreconcilable for them.

I can understand that.

But I also say that it should not be the defining factor of what Man of Steel is. It’s a film that is both re-imagining and homage. It’s a movie that wholly earns whatever deviations from traditional Superman mythos it takes.

And it is Superman, just Superman another way.

‘Big Things… Small Beginnings': A Prometheus ‘Review’

Artist: Ross Burt

As seems to be the case with many of the actual reviewers and critics out there (IE, not just some schmuck writing jumbled paragraphs from his mother’s couch), I find myself unable to form a coherent opinion on ‘Prometheus’.  Ridley Scott’s newest space odyssey about a crew of intrepid scientists and adventurer types who go searching for humanity’s origins- with predictably disastrous results- is a film that has a plethora of lovable elements.

However, just like many of those whom are actually paid for their opinion, even my praising thoughts are tinged with a certain… something.  It is is as if there are two minds in my head and the two- even if both have an overall positive impression- cannot agree on WHAT makes ‘Prometheus’ a film worth seeing (or not seeing, as the case may be).

As Ash might say in ‘Alien’, “We’re still collating”.

But that might explain the biggest problem with my viewing of ‘Prometheus'; at the behest of media and the ad campaign for the film, I familiarized myself with Scott’s original ‘Alien’ film.  Leading up to the release of the film, I experienced ‘Alien’ for the very first time and- partially because I loved it and partially because I was lead to believe it necessary- I wholly absorbed everything I could obtain about the film’s finest nuance so as to have a ‘leg-up’ when watching ‘Prometheus’.

And while that might benefit those that relish in making connections between pieces of a creator’s vast lore (something I normally enjoy, myself), it also has the dual purpose of skewing expectations down a dangerous path.

What I’m attempting to say is that whilst ‘Prometheus’ tends to effectively utilize certain elements that made ‘Alien’ the great film it was while also forging its own strengths independently, the film feels BIGGER if not STRONGER.

Likely, it’s because of that trait; it’s just too damn big.  Not that its ideas are too lofty or its impressive scope too daunting, just that this story is too big to get all the ‘stuff’ it needs to say in such a short time span.

But at the risk of this becoming just an argument of size mattering (which for my sake, I most certainly hope it DOESN’T), I’d like to properly run down the bullet points of what I think works with ‘Prometheus’ and what doesn’t by highlighting two points from each category.

  • POSITIVE: ‘The Look’

Prometheus is a smorgasbord for the eyes.


‘Prometheus’ is a gorgeous film.  Not gorgeous in the ‘sunrise breaching the softly rolling hills buffered by a flowering meadow’ kind of way, though there certainly are a number of lovely long shots of the primordial landscapes that make up the film’s setting, but everything is so finely and intricately designed that any lingering shot on the smallest object is fascinating.  Much of the technology featured- from cryopods to space suits  to the very alien… er… alien gadgets- never makes you question HOW they work simply because they’re made with such an overtly obvious, yet workman-like quality to them.

It’s something that ‘Prometheus’ shares with ‘Alien’, and while I prefer the darker more ‘used’ look of the Nostromo to the ship Prometheus, both films do a great job of showing us cool tech without feeling like the filmmakers were just ‘getting off’ on creating superfluous whozits and whatzits for the sole purpose that it looks cool.

And of course there’s the grotesque, yet strangely beautiful designs of the alien creatures themselves.  I think part of what makes the film great is the mystery of what some of these look like, so I won’t go into detail or discuss exact alien physiology, but  apart from the sheer horror of many of these creatures appearances what’s even scarier is the genesis and creation of these creatures.  They’re scary not only because they’re ugly, but because you’ve seen them literally birthed in front of your eyes.

  • NEGATIVE: “The Plot”

When I say that the plot of ‘Prometheus’ is ‘bad’, I don’t mean that it is bereft of great ideas or individual subplots and story threads that are interesting.  In fact, this is really all the film has.  If you’re looking for lots of intriguing concepts and small side-stories that ultimately deliver on mild emotional response, then ‘Prometheus’ delivers.

If you’re looking for a central, hard-driving, underpinning narrative that’s going to keep you riveted until the very end, you’re probably going to be a bit disappointed.

The problem here is the audience is never given something to really CARE about.  We’re teased with a tantalizing tale of our species’ origin, yet that quickly fades into the background as it becomes a film about a claustrophobic tomb raid.  And hey, if you’re really starting to dig that angle, then soon enough the film changes to a completely different type of tone and setting.

That kind of setting shift would be fine if there were a character and his/her journey to anchor the plot, but sadly there’s not.  Even the best characters in ‘Prometheus’ have motivations either too hazy to get attached to or that change too sporadically to carry the audience through an entire film.

That doesn’t mean that there won’t be characters that you like (which I’ll get to), but it just means that the plot is neither character-driven nor story-driven.

I’ll reiterate that there are superb ideas in ‘Prometheus’, and even some competent story-telling, but the piecemeal parts that make up the film as a whole never really come together in a satisfying way.

  • POSITIVE: “The Believer, the Android and the Captain”

Amid the forgettable, Prometheus has a handful of memorable characters.


For as much as I’ve spoken ill of the lack of good characterization in ‘Prometheus’, there are three performances that I’d like to give veritable ‘props’ to.

First off is our main protagonist, Elizabeth Shaw, played by Noomi Rapace.  She has the very generic, but kinda stupid, template of being a religious person in a profession that doesn’t really support that kind of thinking- setting up all KINDS of WACKY SHENANIGANS!  But seriously, Rapace does a really good job of endearing herself to the audience through her charm and sheer strength of personality.  She’s cute, for lack of a better term, which means when she says something with conviction, her natural bright and smirking personality makes you WANT to believe her.  More importantly, when the bad shit happens, those traits transfer to making the audience generally scared for her safety.

Secondly, we have David the Android, played by the impeccable Michael Fassbender.  His performance here has been the center of most of the praise surrounding ‘Prometheus’ so I won’t waste anymore precious ‘digital ink’ driving the point home, but every second he’s on-screen, his inhuman-ness is arresting.  Most of that comes from the fact that he plays a robot who has two-fold personality of being almost childish naive and fascinated by most things whilst simultaneously having a cold, statistically calculating drive to ‘know’.  It makes every artificial smirk have both charming and sinister qualities behind it.

Lastly, there’s the captain of the ‘Prometheus’, Captain Janek, played by Idris Elba.  If there’s a ‘straight man’ in all of this alien funkiness, it’s him.  He’s laid-back, similar to Captain Dallas from ‘Alien’, but unlike Dallas he’s not dismissive nor stupid.  He knows what’s up, and he regularly has the best advice going that nobody heeds.  It’s all wrapped in an incredibly cool, occasionally quirky, performance by Elba which arguably makes him the most likable character in the whole affair.

  • NEGATIVE: “What. Are. You. Saying?!”

Of course, part of the problem I noted earlier and the reason why I only noted about three characters that are really likable is partially due to an overly cryptic script that often has them saying some pretty stupid shit.

I know that’s not really eloquent, but hey ‘not really eloquent’ is what this script is!  Characters carry on conversations with such obvious  purpose in them that it makes them awkward and not very naturalistic.  What I mean is that most conversations could essentially be summed up with “THIS IS THE CONVERSATION THAT FORESHADOWS A PLOT TWIST” or “THIS IS A CONVERSATION WHICH REVEALS MY ONE CHARACTER TRAIT”.

‘Alien’ didn’t have a ton of dialog, nor did it have a huge amount of memorable or quotable lines, but it did give one the sense that the characters were human.  ‘Prometheus’ makes it all too apparent that these are not real people simply by the fact that real people do not talk this way.  I’d hate to say that the movie’s plot itself would be vastly improved if only we were made to care about these people because they weren’t just vehicles for plot delivery, but… that’s what I’m saying.

THIS SECTION HAS BEEN USED TO DISCUSS A NEGATIVE ASPECT ABOUT THE FILM, ‘PROMETHEUS’.

  • IN SUMMATION

If you’ve stayed with me on this long and rambling journey this long and still don’t have a real idea of whether I’d recommend this film or not, then you can imagine what it’s like watching the film itself.

Looking at ‘Prometheus’ for what it doesn’t do- looking at missed opportunities and some mis-handled elements- it’s easy to pick it apart and find enough fault to drag it down to a level it doesn’t deserve.  It really is a beautiful, at times thought-provoking and more often unsettling film.  It is very much a story that knows that questions are often more fascinating than the answers, but I can’t fault people who might be frustrated at the film’s tendency to NOT throw them a bone.

The best I can say is to curve expectations.  Stifle a desire to compare this film to its more impressive predecessor, and you’re much more likely to see just how good it is.  Don’t, however, expect any of its great ideas to reach a full gestation.

3/5*

Feature Presentation: John Carter

At this point, it’s official. John Carter has become the biggest box office bomb in film history.

And yet, as I exited the theater, all I could ask myself was, ‘Why?’ Actually I wasn’t asking myself anything. My reaction was more of a ‘OH MAN, THAT MOVIE WAS COOL’, but still.


The point I’m trying to make is that John Carter, from a purely technical standpoint, is too competent to be looked upon as a failure. Furthermore, it has too much heart, too much attention paid to its characters and world, for that to be the only perception history will have of this film adaptation of one of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ most well-known creations. It isn’t without its faults, but John Carter is a film that should be experienced by far more people than currently have.

Part of the problem with getting people to watch John Carter may have been conveying the plot of the film to an audience who is utterly unawares of the whole Barsoom series of books. That’s partially because the lengthy lore of Burroughs Mars is a tough one to sum up in a short paragraph or :30 TV spot, but also because John Carter as a film just has so much going on in it. The audience is introduced to John Carter, a Virginia cavalryman who is very much done with war-like pursuits. Sadly, warmongers are not done with him and before long, he finds himself conscripted into yet another conflict. Through a few convoluted twists of fate, Carter finds himself transported to, of all places, Mars.

Far from being uninhabited and dead Mars is embroiled in a civil war between rivaling factions. Throw in a race of shadowy overseers, a tribe of wasteland natives, and miles and miles of Barsoomian desert, and John Carter’s plot gets pretty heavy pretty quick. For the most part, director Andrew Stanton does a great job of juggling these various subplots and still injecting a level of character and humor into them despite having a very limited runtime. However, if John Carter has one flaw it’s that it tries to cram too much of this ‘stuff’ in, and certain things feel intentionally rushed. Honestly, there were a few scenes where John Carter literally says, “I’ll explain later!” before charging off to another scene- almost winking to the audience that he doesn’t have time for this shit.


Luckily, Stanton also has a super-solid cast driving the production which help make up for some of the hyperactive pacing that happens late in the film. Taylor Kitsch is at the very least convincing as a snarly, world-weary Carter. He isn’t necessarily the most charismatic, but he does a decent job of at least playing the part of a man who is pretty much fed up with fighting for causes he doesn’t believe in (a nice intercut scene about halfway through the film does a great job of conveying Carter’s troubles without actually needing to explain explicitly). Perhaps more likable are Lynn Collins as Dejah Thoris, a princess/scientist/buttkicker who desperately attempts to use Carter to save her floundering kingdom and Willem Dafoe as the Thark chieftan, Tars Tarkus. Both help acclimate both Carter and the audience to the goings-on on the red planet and are responsible for some of the funnier and cooler moments in the film.

And boy does this movie have a lot of cool stuff in it. Even if one cannot grasp the entirety of what they’re witnessing on film, the spectacle is still impressive. Being born on Earth, Carter has the ability to use Mars’ lower gravity to jump and do all manner of super-human feats. All of these are done convincingly with a combination of practical and CG effects, but even the purely CG like the various creatures of Mars- including menacing White Apes and the adorable monster dog, Woola- are done against the backdrop of a wholly alien planet. Where John Carter soars is its ability to actually transport the audience and performers to its foreign realm. The architecture, weapons, clothing, vehicles, and indeed denizens themselves are so meticulously detailed that I always found my eye wandering all over the screen throughout the film.


That’s really what it comes down to. John Carter may want for some pacing and might suffer from a bit of a steep barrier to entry, but if you’re willing to take the journey to Mars, you’ll sure to be entertained. This is a film with heart and craftsmanship, and far from the tragedy of certain elements in its narrative, it’s a tragedy that more people haven’t taken this worthwhile trip.

4/5*

I am angry AND SO CAN YOU!

Asura’s Wrath, Capcom’s latest bit of craziness, released a demo last week for PS3 and Xbox 360. An oddity in gameplay, presentation, and (presumably) story, I highly recommend that the curious go out and play it. It’s fun, if only for the short time the demo lasts, and one I’ll be keeping a lookout for when its February release date draws nearer.

BUT NEVER MIND THAT SHIT.

No, the real reason I bring up Asura’s Wrath is because they’ve got a bit of an interactive promotion going. In a move that can only be executed in this stupid stupid age of the internet, Capcom wants you to upload videos of you “Raging”.

The official Asura’s Wrath Youtube channel (HERE) seems to also have versions for all you European folks. How exactly they’ll be used is beyond me. The video doesn’t make it really clear, and the Tweet that alerted me to it simply stipulated that the videos need be around 10 seconds and contain “No words… just screaming!”

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

Stupid, yes. But I’ve never been one above stooging myself out for the sake of stupid video features.

And hell if you’re not either, live in US or Europe, and/or just don’t give an EFF, I’d highly encourage you too as well.

DA FAVE FIVE (Week of 1/21)

D’AWWWWWW WAIT UH MINUTE! IT’S ANOTHER NEW WEEK AND DAT MEANS A BRAND NEW FAVE FIVE!


In all honesty, this week’s FAVE FIVE will probably look very similar to last week’s. Calling it “BRAND NEW” is probably overselling it, but regardless, in the words of the great Randy Savage, “It IS… what it IS!” Remember, this isn’t a power ranking or who I think are the five best wrestlers currently, just who I enjoy seeing every week and feel deserve some recognition.

5.) Johnny Curtis, Derrick Bateman, and Maxine of NXT


I’m cheating a bit with this one, but I’ve stated ad nauseum on Twitter and other outlets my love and devotion for NXT. It’s a show that really is better than it has any right to be, and part of that is due to the fantastic rookie trio of Johnny Curtis, Derrick Bateman, and Maxine. Besides all three being solid in the ring, they’ve all developed uniquely hilarious characters over their time with NXT, and their storyline culminating in the disaster wedding scenario last week was nothing short of masterful. It would feel wrong to include one without including the other two, so there ya go.

4.) Chris Jericho


Doing tons with, quite literally, nothing, Jericho’s return has been the gift that keeps on giving. Although he’s broken his pseudo-science, his manic and cryptic performance thus far has made him a more charismatic enigma than Jeff Hardy ever was.

3.) John Laurinaitis


As much as I love CM Punk, it’s become obvious that his current storyline with Executive Vice President of Talent Relations and Interim GM of RAW, John Laurinaitis, would be NOTHING if not for the amazing work by Johnny Ace himself. Laurinaitis is such a good heel because he doesn’t try to do a Vince McMahon impression as the “boss you love to hate”. Instead, he’s crafted a deadpan, self-oblivious man who, even when he’s doing things he knows are not right, finds ridiculous justification for them, or simply says, “that’s my bad”.

2.) Daniel Bryan (AKA MAH BOI D-BRYAN)


Speaking of self-oblivious heels, Daniel Bryan continued his hilarious (and strangely tragic) run this last week, culminating in a surprisingly good Lumberjack Match on SmackDown. Whether it’s his his ability to continually dodge bullets from wrestlers who, by all means, should be crushing him, or his increasing bravado (which was epitomized by his willingness to outright attack and berate the lumberjacks during the lumberjack match), Bryan has really hit his stride. It may not be the American Dragon role people were begging for him to play in WWE, but he’s pulled something great out of seemingly nowhere.

1.) Wade Barrett


The Barrett Barrage holds onto its top spot for a second week in a row. Barrett has proven to be a workhorse after miring in the midcard just a few months back. His rivalry with Sheamus might not be the most complex (seeing as it was essentially crafted out of nothing when Orton got “injured” two weeks ago), but Barrett continues to do his thing on the mic and in the ring. He’s showing just how solid, consistent, and great he is, and it’s something I hope that WWE Creative will remember. Barrett deserves to be a regular main event-er.

Stay tuned to “DA MOTHERSHIP” next week as I bring you another installment of the FAVE FIVE, and stick around for even more nerdy goodness in the weeks to come.

DA FAVE FIVE (Week of 1/15)

WASSUP MAH RASSLIN DOGS?! MAH MAIN MAN BOOKER T AIN’T BEEN DIVULGIN’ HIS PERSONAL FAVE FIVE AS OF RECENTLY TO DA DUBBA DUBBA EE UNIVERSE, SO I FIGGERED I’D TAKE DA INITIATIVE IN POSTIN’ MAH OWN FAVE FIVE TO HELP FILL DAT CEASELESS VOID IN ALL OUR HEARTS!


I should probably stop typing like that. I’m sure it’s annoying and I don’t have the good sense to not just hit the CAPS lock whilst I’m doing it. Anyway, on with the first iteration of the fave five!

5.) Brodus Clay


There’s still the question swimming around in my mind as to just what the hell they’re going to do with Brodus when he runs out of jobbers and mid-carders to squash, but for this moment in time, there’s nobody I look forward to seeing more. Wrestling, at its roots, has always been more connected to the circus than an actual athletic event and its in this mindset that the sideshow/clown of Clay really works. Funkasaurus is just plain fun.

4.) CM Punk


Punk’s one downfall has been that he’s been forced to skirt a line. He’s practically the face of the company at this point, yet he wants to remain an outsider. He promises change, but doesn’t really have the power all by himself to do so. Does that mean Punk still isn’t putting on some of the best matches and cutting some of the best promos week after week? Hell no, but one can’t help but think how much higher Punk could go if only he was given the proper, full spotlight.

3.) Chris Jericho


YEAH BAYBAY C’MON! YEA-YEA-YEAAAAAH!

2.) Daniel Bryan


I feel like D-Bryan’s current angle as a heel is being thoroughly misunderstood. It’s almost like Chris Jericho’s in its own level of troll-i-ness, but with that unaware “I don’t know everybody hates me,” level of douchebaggery thrown in. It’s great. Plus, Bryan is still amazing to watch in the ring, and his matches with Big Show have actually all been solid and embody the David vs. Goliath angle with some unique twists.

1.) Wade Barrett


The Barrett Barrage is on a roll, and there looks to be little that can stop it. Barrett is such a weird guy, in that he seems to mix the best elements of old and new school wrestling. His in-ring work is solid if not terribly exciting, but where he really excels is on the mic. This is one smooth motherfucker. Seriously a few weeks back, Barrett was losing a table match to Randy Orton and then getting put through the roof of a car. Yet you’d never know it by the way he always conducts himself with a microphone. I’d love for Barrett to get his hands on the title soon-ish, but I’d prefer them to take their time. That’s not something WWE has been great at as of late, but let’s make an exception and may God save the queen.

PLAY ALL: FLCL DVD Review


ANIME! It’s for jerks, right? Well even if you’re a member of that extremely close-minded (Read: WRONG) group that subscribes to that way of thinking, it’s a universal fact that FLCL (Fooly Cooly) is awesome. End sentence. There’s really no arguing with it.

Part of that is because this six episode romp by Gainax studios, the studios who also made the hyper-popular Neon Genesis Evangelion, is so batshit insane yet so heart wrenching in its character-driven story that it endears itself to the audience on a number of levels. It’s got incredibly stylish animation and a rocking soundtrack. I insist, being only a fringe fan of anime as whole myself, that this is the go-to anime to convert the uninitiated.

REVIEW OVER. Or it would be if I was reviewing FLCL as an anime. But nay, this is a review of the DVD that Funimation released last year. See when I first saw FLCL some time around the year 2007-08, there was really no good way to get a hold of a home version here in Amurricuh. Luckily, those dudes what published the Dragon Ball Z managed to pick up the FLCL rights in 2010, and now this DVD is widely available for around $40. So, what does this package give you, and should you pick it up?

WHAT YOU GET

For starters, you (obviously) get all six episodes of FLCL for your viewing pleasure. The Japanese language version, along with the excellent English dub are included, as well as the option for subtitles (though subtitles are included in portions of the English dub regardless). So, whether you’re a purist or want to get your Kari Wahlgren on, you get a good number of options here.

As far as bonus content, commentary from series director Kazuya Tsurumaki is included for all six episodes. On top of this, you get English voice acting outtakes, and a plethora of AMVs featuring songs from the soundtrack (done entirely by J-Rock band, The Pillows).

AND HOW IS ALL THAT?

Good, if not a tad underwhelming. As I’ve stated before, FLCL is an amazing experience and if you’re compelled to own said experience, then this purchase is a no-brainer.

However, considering how loved the series is and how long people have been clamoring to own the series in legitimate form, I can’t help but feel like more could have been included. The outtakes are pretty hilarious, true enough, and are a great addition. The commentaries will be worthwhile for anyone with anyone with an interest in the inner-workings of the series (though I feel one should curb their expectations, as I’m not sure Tsurumaki’s commentary is what many might be expecting if Western directors’ commentaries are what one’s used to).

Where I think the package is a tad of a let-down is how the rest is simply a packing in of AMVs of the show’s best tracks. Don’t get me wrong, I love (Read: LOVE) FLCL’s soundtrack. I would kiss it if it was a pretty girl and ya know wanted to kiss me back it’s cool if it didn’t. But I can’t help but feel like the tracks would have been better served as a separate bonus CD or something. Plus, there are no less than THREE videos of the end credits song, Ride On Shooting Star, included. Three VIDEOS, not VERSIONS, of the song that gets played after every single episode.

It’s an AMAZING song. They did not to include it three times in the Bonus Features.

VERDICT

And here’s the point where I reiterate that none of that matters because of the strength of the series itself. Fuck, who am I to be complaining about BONUS features. The fact that they included anything for fans of the series is actually really cool, and there’s some cool stuff here. Yes, taking into consideration all things, I still maintain that Funimation could have done a little bit more to make FLCL’s release after so many years an event.

But hey, now that the license is in hand, I’m sure they can trot out some special edition down the road. Heck 2015-16 is the 15th anniversary of FLCL, so we’ll see what happens then. Right now, though, I highly suggest you go out and pick up FLCL right now if you’re at all interested in this outrageous anime. It’ll be worth every penny.
4/5*

Ship me to the Planet Funk (and somebody call my Mama…)

Hey, wrestling fans. Remember when Brodus Clay was the bodyguard for Alberto Del Rio over on SmackDown? Remember how Del Rio got drafted by RAW and Brodus was left out of a job? Then Brodus went and had a bunch of squash matches on Superstars…

Yeah like that. Squashing Johnny Gargano and shit. And maybe you’ll even remember way back in November when RAW actually ran vignettes promoting Brodus Clay’s return? How he was saying he was the “Fall of Humanity” and the “Monster Underneath Your Bed”?

Yeah, me neither.
SOMEBODY CALL MY MAMA!

The 2011 “Video Games That Rix Liked” Awards

Despite the ratio of posts on this blog not skewing in that direction, I fancy myself a game player of some kind. In 2011, I didn’t play nearly as many as I would have liked, yet still have strong feelings about the ones that I did. Typically, I’ll just make a Top 10 list over at GiantBomb.com (OBSERVE! OBSERVE HERE, AS WELL!), but for some reason there’s no officially sanctioned user participation this year.

So, I figgered I’d take the bull by the proverbial horns here and just make my own awards list. It’s pretty much a stripped down riff of Giant Bomb’s own awards (noticing a pattern?), but fuck it. I just want to feel involved.

PS: If you don’t know what GiantBomb.com is, then I suggest you either kill yourself or, better, just educate yourself right now. Heck, if you’re reading this now, their own awards series is going on so you’ll have a better idea what the heck I’m going on about.

The STILL PLAYING Award (AKA the 2010 game that I played a lot of in 2011)

Super Street Fighter IV

Yep, instead of playing the new version of SSFIV (the supremely busted and insulting Arcade Edition), I soldiered on with even more hours dug into Super Street Fighter IV. The perfected version of the game that got me back into fighting games, it still stands as a time capsule to the pinnacle of my fighting game interest.
Honorable Mentions: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, Mass Effect 2

Best Original Soundtrack (OST)

Bastion

Goddammit, Bastion. Why are you such a great game? Of course, there’s no telling how much this game would have suffered had it not been for Darren Korb’s remarkable music. I don’t buy many CDs, let alone soundtracks, yet the fact that I’m going to buy the hell out of the Bastion soundtrack should be the biggest testament to its quality.
Honorable Mentions: Catherine, Stacking

Best Debut

Bastion

Bastion. You’re super good! Too good! Where is there to go from here? I’m not sure, but whatever Bastion-related nonsense comes out, even if it’s a Bastion slot-machine, you bet your ass that I’ll be playing and supporting it.
Honorable Mentions: Trenched (Iron Brigade), WWE All-Stars

Best Surprise

Mortal Kombat

SUPRISE, BITCHES

I’m not ashamed to say that my experience with the MK franchise first began well into the series’ twilight years. After playing the supremely disappointed MK vs. DC a couple years back, I had absolutely zero confidence that I’d like the reboot of Mortal Kombat half as much as I actually did. I’d almost recommend it above Street Fighter IV for just the sheer, brutal enjoyment the game offers.
Honorable Mentions: Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Stacking

Best Presentation (AKA the best combined use of art style, graphical muscle, soundtrack and voice acting)

Catherine

I have a feeling I’m one of the few people who really really really really dug all parts of Catherine (no pun intended, you perverts). One thing I’m sure most will agree upon is that Catherine is a pretty sharp-looking game. It executes and commits on its art style so well, and doesn’t ask it to expose its weaknesses more often than it needs to. It has got style for miles and is just absolutely absorbing and cohesive at all points that I can’t help but smile for every minute the game was spinning in my Xbox.
Honorable Mentions: L.A. Noire, Bastion

Best XBLA Game

Bastion

If you download one game in your entire life, it should probably be Bastion.

Yep, Bastion again. It runs away with this award handily.
Honorable Mentions: Trenched (Iron Brigade), Stacking

The SON I AM DISAPPOINT “Award” (AKA Most Disappointing Game)

L.A. Noire

I’m not quite sure if I expected far too much from L.A. Noire, but I feel like it was truly one of those games that promised the world and delivered a pile of dirt. That sounds very insulting, and it’s true that I enjoyed L.A. Noire, but I can’t help but feel like the game was just a huge disappointment. Whether it was its strangling linearity or its continuously jarring gameplay decisions which easily pulled me out of the the game’s supposed “immersion” or OR the fact that the game’s first set of cases is the most varied and entertaining set, I think all are solid justifications for me to name L.A. Noire the game I was most disappointed with in 2011.
DIShonorable Mentions: Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Dark Souls

And last, but most certainly not least, my Top 5 games of the year.

5. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

I may not be giving the devil his proper due here, but the fact of the matter is Skyrim is such a dichotomy to me. It’s both beautifully and horribly crafted at the same time. It has an immersive world, but a rather unengaging main story. There still is no denying just how magnetic the pull of this game is, and even if I point out more flaws in both its design and my own enjoyment with it than I’d like for something that I consider to be the “best” of 2011, I still can’t wait to play more of this huge action RPG.

4. Mortal Kombat

2011 will probably be the last time I play Ed Boon’s baby for some time, but what a ride I had with it in the scope of this year. This game took everything I really loved about my newfound fighting game prowess and added things I didn’t even know I wanted. I love it, and it’ll always be looked upon fondly in my eyes.

3. Batman: Arkham City

Again, another conflict enters my mind when I say that Arkham City was one of my favorite games this year. This mainly comes from the fact that I honestly don’t think Arkham City comes close to trumping its predecessor. Still, Arkham Asylum was my top game of 2009, and this game is fundamentally the same (plus I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with the game, particularly that amazing combat system). Leaving it anywhere outside my top 3 for 2011 would just seem… wrong.

2. Catherine

I love puzzle games! I love weirdness! Catherine just scratched so many itches for me (again, no pun intended you miscreant) that I feel genuinely put-off by how many people who just did not like this game. Besides the addictive and frantic block puzzling, the out of control story that manically hopped between emotional introspection, sitcom-stye wackiness and just plain weird story decisions had me roped into its every last twist and turn. I love this game and I’m not apologizing for it. It was easily the singular most memorable gaming experience I had in 2011… save for one game.

1. Bastion

It has already been praised enough in this post (and this post has already gotten long enough), that I think I just need to say one last thing. Bastion is a game you need to play. The story of The Kid is one that is satisfying on another level than anything else I’ve written about here. That it does so in such a humble-seeming fashion makes it just that much more appealing, and it is easily my favorite game of the year.

Movie Musings: The Hobbit

There have been quite a few things on my mind as of late.  I suppose not having to do research to expose the insidious and corrupt underpinnings of one’s “Movember” fluff piece has that effect, but that’s quite beside the point.

The point is that shit is happening. It’s the end of the year and stuff is rapping up faster than a Christopher Nolan film after it has squandered its first two and a half hours on cryptic dialog and awkward action sequences. Things are swimming around in my head and I feel like I should start putting some of that stuff down in written form.

Ya know… like a blog! Odd that I’m just now figuring out how to use one of these things. Anyway, this one’s dedicated to something very near and dear to my heart, and one of the things I’m most excited for in 2012.

THE ‘OBBIT

Rollin' Deep

It’s probably no secret to any and all interested that this week marked the release of the trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, part one of Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Hobbit novel by J.R.R. Tolkien. Since this duology was anounced, I’ve been hyped beyond belief. This is because, following the release of Jackson’s Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, I threw myself completely into the mythos of Toliken’s Middle-Earth. For me, the series was this generations’ Star Wars (you know… because the prequels were YOU KNOW YOU KNOW).

In fact, the only thing I DIDN’T like about the series were the books that spawned the movies. That sounds incredibly asinine and insipid, but I’m sure 90% of people who attempted reading the LOTR books following the release of the first film will agree whole-heartedly. What book I DID thoroughly enjoy, actually, was Tolkien’s The Hobbit. It was a much more straight-forward and simple fair that allowed a greater use of one’s imagination to glean what locations and characters were supposed to look like. This might be because it is largely accepted The Hobbit is a kid’s book, but fuck it; I assert it’s the superior book.

Anyway, TRAILER!

My kneejerk reaction is something akin to *EJACULATION*, but I suppose I should dig into some of the stuff I noticed. For one thing, it’s tough to tell where this first part of “The Hobbit” will end. The Hobbit’s not the lengthiest book, but I suppose it could be stretched into the two films Jackson has planned, especially if the “extended universe” of Middle-Earth is explored. I just hope it doesn’t get too overblown and lose that classic/simple story.

This is also very much a “HEY PEOPLE WHO LIKED LORD OF THE RINGS MOVIES, BUT HAVE NEVER CRACKED A BOOK BEFORE! HERE’S A BUNCH OF SCENES THAT ARE CALLBACKS TO THOSE MOVIES!” That’s not a bad thing, but it also means that someone like me who absolutely can’t wait to see certain scenes unfurl on the big screen are getting blue-balled even harder. Yes, the adventuring group has a layover in the House of Elrond at Rivendell, but it’s hardly an eventful affair. It’s also just a little odd seeing old Ian Holm Bilbo in connecting scenes to “young” Martin Freeman Bilbo. I think Freeman will do a great job, but it certainly emphasizes the fact that the two don’t look (or even really sound) anything like one another! But hey… CALLBACKS, PEEPS!

I can only expect that showing scenes like this, whilst keeping scenes like the fight with the goblins or the run-in with the trolls at a bare minimum in the trailer is for the benefit of those weened onto the series by the movies, and to just up the anticipation for dudes like me who can’t wait GODDAMMIT I WANT THIS FUCKING MOVIE TO BE OUT SO BAD.

I love the look of the Dwarves, too. From the LOTR movies, it seemed that most Dwarves all looked relatively the same (hell, Gimli even says Dwarf women look like Dwarf men), but here in The Hobbit, they have wildly varying looks about them all. It’ll be cool to see each one get their own screen-time and get their own development over the course of the two films.

Lastly, I couldn’t help but feel like the Dwarves song in the trailer is intentionally reminiscent of the Rankin/Bass animated film of the 1970s. Cool stuff.

I could go on and on, but I’m guessing that after listening to that, you’re probably ready for this thing to be over. I am too, so I will simply end by saying that December of next year cannot get here soon enough.