Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Batman & Robin: Batman Reborn

I've been in love with Dick Grayson since the approximate age of 12. It started with Batman The Animated Series and quickly moved over to the comics. I even decided that if I ever found a guy in real life that was like him, I'd marry him.

I loved the Prodigal storyline that happened right around the time I was collecting. After all the Knightfall/Knightquest/KnightsEnd business, Bruce decided he needed more time off, and asked Dick to fill in for him. Dick was more than happy to put aside the Nightwing persona and do it for him. I haven't collected comics in ages, and honestly I stopped collecting Batman comics even before that. I do try to keep up to date with what's happening however. So when the death of Batman storyline came about, and they started playing the guessing game of who would replace him.. honestly there was no other choice in my mind. Of course it would be Dick.

Reviews of the Batman & Robin series were overwhelmingly positive from the get go, so I knew I had to get my hands on it. At this point in my life monthly visits to the comic shop just aren't practical, so I waited patiently for the release of the trade paperback. Actually, it's a hardcover. I didn't even realize they were releasing them this way, but I'm glad they did. It looks gorgeous and of course it's much harder to damage. I was afraid to take the sleeve off while I read it because I have a cat that loves to chew on paper, but the average person would have to try pretty hard to ruin the quality of these.

I enjoyed Morrison's New X-men run quite a bit, even though my thoughts on the whole thing were "Well, these aren't MY X-men, but I like the stories just the same.." I didn't get that feeling from this series at all. This is the Dick Grayson I've been in love with for more than half my life now. His thoughts and actions meshed perfectly well with the character I've known for so long. I can't count the number of times I smiled while reading this. In all fairness a general mention of Bruce and Dick as father and son is usually enough to make me all warm and fuzzy inside, so maybe I'm just easy to please in this regard. Damian Wayne was a completely new character for me, and I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about him. On the surface these "child of famous hero" characters always smack of fan fiction being brought into canon, but I think he's handled very well and brings a new dynamic to the Robin character and his relationship with this new Batman. He's both a compliment and foil for Dick's way of doing things, and I enjoy him a lot. I also really like the hood on his costume.

In terms of villains, I enjoyed that so far the Rogues gallery is pretty much literally a freak show. This early on they could have gone the obvious route and had them take on one of the big names to try to drum up interest and I'm glad they didn't. While I hope that the villains aren't constantly this gritty, I think it fit the tone of the book really well.

As you can probably tell, the art in comics often takes a backseat to storyline for me. I was not a fan of Quietly's art on New X-men, but I think it worked much better here in a Batman book. Or perhaps he has just grown as an artist. I still don't care for his shading techniques regardless. I found Philip Tan's art in the second arc a bit more enjoyable. Maybe it's just been a long time since I've read a comic, but I was also really energized to see the way they incorporated the sound effects into the images themselves. BANG is written in blood as someone is shot, and CRACK appears in the cracks as someone collides with a wall. Just a great subtle touch that shows how you can really take advantage of the medium you're working with.

I can't believe I have to wait until November until Volume 2 is out! Highly recommended for any Batman fan.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Flight of Dragons

In the midst of a discussion about the Neverending Story with a friend on LJ, he mentioned this movie as one that he watched over and over again as a kid. The name didn't ring any bells, but considering that I loved pretty much all fantasy made in the 1980s, I knew I had to watch this movie. It's a bit rare - don't expect to rent this one from Netflix.

The movie takes place in a world where there are 4 wizards who seems to control all of magic and each has domain over a different area - the earth, the air and sea, light and harmony, and evil. Magic is slowly fading from their world because people are embracing logic and science. The evil wizard decides he's going to force people to embrace science until it kills them (with nuclear war) and then apparently he'll just sit around and rejoice about ruling the ruined wasteland they leave behind. Obviously the other wizards aren't too happy about this and decide to stop him, but they're not allowed to interfere directly. So they call upon a dragon, an old knight, and "the antiquity" (just run with it) tells them they need to go fetch a guy from the late 20th century to complete the group of heroes. This guy's name is Peter and he's an inventor/scientist who is also totally in love with magic and dragons and has even invented a board game that just so happens to feature all the characters we've met so far in the movie.

Everytime they showed the board game, I kept wondering if they actually made one for sale. I would totally play it.

If you go into this movie thinking really hard and expecting something serious, you're going to be really disappointed. The art is not stellar (it's the same group that did the old Lord of the Rings cartoon movies), the story is disjointed (apparently they picked and chose plotlines from two books and it shows), and its resolution is just a little too neat and silly. On the other hand, if you look at it from a child's point of view, or just an appreciation for 1980s animation, I think you'll really enjoy it.

I guarantee you that if I had seen this as a child, I would have made sure my parents' taped it so I could watch it over and over again. It has everything a fantasy lover could ask for: dragons, fairies, elves, dwarves, knights, trolls, wizards, and princesses. Two things I found pleasantly surprising: it wasn't afraid to kill characters, and there's one very strong female character who shows up in the final act (even if we don't get to know her too well). The part that I loved the most is the time they spend explaining just how something as incredibly huge as a dragon could fly. It also explains why they breathe fire as well. It really is a fairly plausable explanation. The funny part is at the start of the movie I thought "Man, those dragons aren't really flapping their wings or anything, they just seem to float.. how am I supposed to believe they can fly?" and then a half hour later they were actually telling me how! Silly me thought it was sloppy animation. They showed me.

If you're the type who needs to see something before purchasing, this is the internet and you probably know how to go find it. On the other hand if you're feeling more daring, I recommend buying it. If for no other reason than you're not going to see John Ritter and James Earl Jones face off in any other movie ever.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Battlestar Galactica Season 3

What a rollercoaster ride that turned out to be. At the end of season 2 I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about the jump ahead.. there were a lot of things there that just weren't thrilling me and left me lukewarm. However I think it turned out great and it was probably just what the show needed to keep things fresh and moving forward.

I don't consider myself a shipper.. at least I always figure a "shipper" is someone who spends a lot of time writing fan fiction about their favorite couple. If all it means is that you care passionately about a certain couple in fiction and want to see them together... well, shoot, I guess I am one. I spent a good portion of this season yelling at Kara, Lee, and Dualla. Anders not so much.. but that's probably just because they don't give him a whole lot to say most of the time. I think I spent most of "Unfinished Business" on the edge of my seat in one way or another. The ending drove me crazy.

I've already expressed my Starbuck love before, so I'll try not to repeat myself. I enjoyed "Maelstrom" quite a bit and by the time it was over I refused to believe that she was either dead or a cylon. Don't ask me how I could possibly have that cake and eat it too, but there it is.

Having gotten through to the end, it's pretty obvious she's cylon number 5. However, it sure seems like these 5 cylons are quite different from the others.. there's a whole ton of questions there to be answered. I find myself more confused than anything.. not really upset or even shocked. It's just things like "Why is Hera such a big deal if obviously Tyrol's kid is also a half breed?" Of course no one apparently knows that yet, but shouldn't the doctor have recognized it given the unique blood properties? At this point though, there's only one season left (and apparently a few prequel movies) so I'm just going to sit back and enjoy the ride. And not expect all questions to be answered since apparently it ends in a Lost-like fashion.. thanks, internet.
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