Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bechtloff Movie Night: Freddy vs Jason (2003)

Happy Halloween everyone! So I've looked at quite a few horror/slasher/Halloween themed movies this month and figured I would top it off by taking a look at my all time favorite slasher movie, Freddy vs Jason.

I mentioned here before that I fucking love Freddy. There is something about that character as played by Robert Englund that is just such an incredible mix of humor and horror that I just love. Jason I could take or leave to be honest. I mean my favorite Jason movie, aside from this one, is Jason X so clearly I'm not in line with the Jason fan boys. I do feel this movie did a pretty good job of representing both franchises pretty well, certainly it nailed Freddy in my mind.

The story here is that the town of Springwood has managed to pretty much lock Freddy in his dream realm. They have erased all trace of Freddy from the towns history and even prescribe many of their children a drug that keeps them from dreaming. Freddy, being a being who feeds off fear, has found himself essentially neutered by this. So he decides to invade the dreams of Jason, who is slumbering at the bottom of Crystal Lake, to get him to go to Springwood and start killing. This will reawaken the towns fear of Freddy thus returning his power. However once his power is returned he finds Jason is killing teenagers before Freddy can and the two inevitably clash. Freddy takes over one kids body through his dreams to inject Jason with heavy tranquilizers in an attempt to kill Jason through his dreams. The teenagers, lead by Lori Campbell (it's always a girl that takes down Freddy isn't it?) figure out the old trick of bringing Freddy into the waking realm by grabbing him in her dream. This leads to a clash by Camp Crystal Lake in which Freddy and Jason fight.

This movie absolutely rocked. I still watch it every Halloween. This was, and will most likely remain, the last Freddy movie Robert Englund did and I can't think of a more fitting send off for that incarnation of the character then this joy of a movie.

Interesting side note, after seeing it for the first time it took me forever to figure out where I saw the black girl in this movie from. It was Kelly Rowland, from Destiny's Child. This was her first movie, don't remember seeing her since though.

Maybe now Star Wars will stop sucking so bad.

So by now you've probably heard that George Lucas sold LucasFilm, and by extension Star Wars, to Disney. I for one am very cautiously optimistic about this, I think it might, and I stress might, lead to Star Wars movies that don't suck a big fat cock. And that would be a first in about three decades now wouldn't it?

Lucas is a fucking hack. Yeah I said it. Sure I like the original trilogy, even if I think it's a touch overrated, but damn near every awesome thing about it was lifted from old westerns and samurai movies. You know what happens when Lucas isn't ripping things off, when a Star Wars movie is 100% Lucas? You get Episode I.

So maybe the people Disney will put in charge of Star Wars will recapture some of the original magic. Then again maybe they won't, maybe they will be just as bad as Lucas, maybe even worse. But at least now there's a chance it will be good again.

We'll find out, until then I remain cautiously optimistic.

Review of the Week: Superman:Earth 1 Vol 2.

I was tremendously impressed with the Superman: Earth 1 Vol 1 hardcover that came out a couple of years ago. The sequel did not disappoint. Most of this hardcover centers around Superman confronting Parasite, and the Parasite redesign is amazing.

There was also a part in here where Clark describes a childhood pet cat he had that was downright beautiful. Both of these hardcovers are incredibly well written and drawn takes on a classic and sometimes tired character. And what's more, it's a far better re-imagining then any Super book in the new 52.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Bechtloff Movie Night: Corpse Bride. (2005)

Well, Halloween is tomorrow. I for one can't wait. I've taken a look at a few horror movies this month, Jason X, Jennifer's Body, the Nightmare on Elm Street remakeThe Exorcism of Emily Rose, Return of the Living Dead 3, Cube, the Silent Hill movie, and Signs. Now let's look at something that, while not a horror or slasher movie, is definitely Halloween themed, Corpse Bride.

I don't think I can talk about this movie without talking about Tim Burton first, because this movie has his dick prints all over it. Personally I like Tim Burton, at least for the most part. I get why a lot of people don't like him though, he can be in many ways a one trick pony. And it's arguably obnoxious for a director to have a visual style so overwhelming that you can look at two seconds of any Tim Burton movie and know instantly it's a Tim Burton movie. It's like a painter who's signature is bigger then his painting. And personally I don't think Burton should ever be allowed to do any more movie adaptations of pre existing material like books or TV shows as he has made it abundantly clear that rather then even attempting to respect the source material he will mangle it into his own image. The only possible exception is 1989's Batman, and that was because the movie studio kept him on a short leash. For Batman Returns they let him do whatever he wanted and what a mess that was.

But for all his short comings, the man does truly produce some memorable and sometimes amazing movies. And I feel Corpse Bride is one of his best. The story is of a young timid man named Victor who flees a current engagement and ends up accidently engaged to the titular Corpse Bride. He gets dragged into the land of the dead and all kinds of adventure ensues from this wacky Three's Company like supernatural misunderstanding.

The visuals are amazing. The movie is done in stop motion animation. I've always been a fan of stop motion, you don't see it that often anymore as many studios consider quality stop motion to be cost prohibitive. A lot of the feel of land of the dead in this movie remind me of the old Beetlejuice cartoon, I have to wonder if that was an inspiration to Burton for this.

Despite the macabre subject matter this is actually a very light hearted, even romantic story. A lot of people with Burton fatigue may have passed on this when it came out, but I recommend giving it a shot if you've never watched it. I consider it a classic.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Check out Geek Mythology Crafts

I was at a small comic con today, helping to run a booth for my comic store, and came across a little business called Geek Mythology Crafts. They make bead art specializing in old video game sprites.
I got a Knuckles and Metal Sonic done in the 16-bit Sonic 3/Sonic and Knuckles style. They look even better from farther away.

Just in case you were wondering this is what they look like really close.

I also got a Mega Man and a Proto Man done in an 8-bit style. Again they look even better from across the room.

The have a website, a Deviant Art page and a Facebook page. From what I saw at their booth they focus mostly on video game style because this type of bead art is perfect to give something a pixelated look, but they also had super heroes, anime characters, tons of various nerd shit. Their doing great work and this is a small business that definitely deserves support so check them out.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Bechtloff Movie Night: Signs (2002)

Oh M. Night Shyamalan, what the fuck happened to you? You started out so strong but your movies just kept getting worse with each one. To me this was the first one he did that flat out sucked.

The story here follows Mel Gibson's character, a former Reverend who lost his faith after his wife died in a senseless car accident. He lives in a farm house with his two kids and his brother. And then aliens attack. When one of the aliens has him and his family cornered in his house he remembers the dieing words of his wife, which at the time seemed to make no sense. She told him to tell his brother to 'keep swinging'. So he tells his brother to swing the baseball bat at the glasses of water laying around the house. Why are there glasses of water everywhere? His daughter keeps starting glasses of water and leaving them everywhere. Also he heard the aliens don't like water. See how all these seemingly unrelated things come together to save his family? He concludes that must be divine providence and reclaims his faith. Yay.

This is one of those movies I kinda liked the first time I saw it. Shyamalan is a damn good director and can suck you into even a pretty weak story. And I found the elements of faith interesting. But it is just so fucking full of holes. I'm not gonna spend much time talking about how the technologically advanced aliens can't fucking open doors. Nostalgia Critic did a pretty good job ripping on that in his Signs review. But let's look at their weakness for a moment. Water.

Yes, fucking water is a deadly poison to them. And they are walking around on this planet bare ass naked. Now maybe in their culture they don't have clothes. Fair enough. But let me ask this, if there was a planet where there was mercury everywhere, where every living thing on it was made of mostly mercury, where there were lakes, rivers, and vast fucking oceans of mercury covering most of the surface of this planet, and where sometimes mercury fell from the fucking sky, would you walk around with zero protective gear? Of course you fucking wouldn't.

And what the fuck could these aliens possibly want here? They can't eat us or any other living thing here. They would be fucking morons to want to try to colonize this planet. What did they want? Was it some sort of mineral or resource here? If so you think with their technology they could have just fucking taken it without us even knowing they were even here. What was with their retarded half ass attempt at waging a war?

That is only the biggest plot hole with this movie, but it fails on many more levels. I'm a man of faith and even I thought the whole resolution of "God working in mysterious ways" just felt incredibly silly and forced. Many of the horror themed movies I've looked at this month I feel are very underrated, this piece of shit however is completely overrated.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Some awesome Sonic the Hedgehog art.

I talked about this a little bit in an earlier post, but I recently stumbled across a Deviant Art page belonging to a Lamar Wells AKA Trunks24. He has a very impressive Sonic gallery and I just thought I'd share some of the pieces I found most impressive. First he has a few Sonic Generations inspired pieces.

I really love this one. We have modern Sonic and Tails along side classic Sonic and Tails facing the Time Eater from the game. I love the detail, the little bits of grass blowing through the air really give it a sense of "impending storm". I also am impressed with the coloring. He says on his page he just uses regular color pencils. The colors look so smooth.

This one isn't as detailed as the first, what with the lack of background and all, but I still love it. Once again I find the coloring impressive. I also feel he captures the diference between the looks of modern and classic Sonic and Tails perfectly.

This is the last Sonic Generations inspired one I'm showing here, although he has done more. Both Sonics gone super and again he captures both styles extremely well. And again I'm impressed with this guys coloring technique, and while a little hard to even see the light bits of yellow energy pouring off of them is a nice touch.

Here we have one of Sonic, Princess Sally, and Knuckles in their robotisized forms, and one of robo Sally attacking sonic.

This one of Sonic and Sally is a good example of how great this guy is with expressions, he reminds me a little of Amanda Conner in that way. The coloring isn't quite as smooth as some of his others but it's still solid.

And finally here is one of Mega Man and Sonic meeting up. Not even really one of his best to be honest, Mega Man's blaster arm looks a little messed up at the elbow, But I just had to put it on here due to how much I'm geeking out over the upcoming Sonic/Mega Man crossover. This guy has really impressed me and from what I've seen Archie needs to get this guy on one of their Sonic books.

Bechtloff Movie Night: Silent Hill (2006)

This movie, based on the video games of the same name, follows a woman named Rose as she attempts to find her daughter who has disappeared. She heads to the abandoned town of Silent Hill where she believes her daughter is and gets sucked into a nightmarish haunted hellscape where it becomes almost impossible to even tell what's real anymore.

I gotta confess I never played any of the Silent Hill video games. In fact at the risk of hurting my nerd cred here, I had never even heard of Silent Hill before the movie. So I can't say how true this is to the source material or any of that, I can only judge this movie on it's own.

And with that said, I'm really not all that sure how I feel about this movie. On the one hand the acting is solid all around, and the visuals are simply amazing. The film is horrifying, creepy and suspenseful. I spent this whole movie completely enthralled, dieing to figure out just what the fuck was going on.

And then the movie was over, and I still didn't really know what the fuck was going on. Nothing really came together story wise I thought. I couldn't help but wonder, did the writers even know what the fuck was going on, or were they just throwing one twist after another at me to hide the fact they were as lost as I was?

That aside this movie is still worth checking out for any horror fan, especially if you're not familiar with the games you will be impressed with all the unique and disturbing imagery, the most well know of course being the triangle head dude. But if you are a fan of the games the imagery might be old hat to you.

I wouldn't pay big bucks for this, but it's worth checking out on Netflix or getting on DVD as long as you find a cheap used copy or something.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Review(s) of the Week: Punisher War Zone Vol 3 #1 and A-Babies vs X-Babies

Spider-man has always had a pretty open contempt for the Punisher. In this issue Spidey tries to bring the Punisher in, Spidey slaps him around a little but the Punisher manages to get away using a trap he had set. Anyways, Spidey has had enough and remembers "Hey wait a minute, I'm on like a dozen teams now" So he calls an Avengers meeting to deal with the Punisher problem. Most of them scoff at the idea, saying that Punisher is below their radar and not the kind of thing the Avengers deal with. Captain America however agrees with Spider-man and decides to send Black Widow after him. Wolverine objects to this, and even heads out to warn the Punisher first.

This has the potential to be a great series. I'm not a huge fan of the Punisher. Most of the time his book can fall into the same trap of just being a guy killing people, a sort of revenge porn, but I feel he works best when played against other heroes who disapprove of his methods. Then you actually have questions of morality in the story rather then just a guy shooting people. To see the full weight of the Avengers raining down on little old Frank will be interesting. How will he get out of this one? We'll find out.

There really isn't much here to say, but I still wanted to talk about this book. You might pass this up thinking its just a stupid throw away story, and it kinda is. But it's also very funny. The visual gags in this are just great. At one point Hulk knocks Wolverine into orbit and he sees this.

This was a very entertaining read and you should check it out when you hit your local comic book store this week.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sonic/Mega Man crossover talk from NY Comic Con.

We got a little bit more info on the up coming Sonic and Mega Man crossover from an Archie Panel at New York Comic Con. Not much more but a little. The creators still promise it will be epic and include as many characters from each universe as possible. Also they discussed some up coming stuff in both Mega Man and the Sonic books. Check out the article over at CBR.

Also I found this little Sonic/Mega Man gem on Deviant Art. The guy's name is Lamar Wells, goes by the DA handle of trunks24. He's got a lot of really good Sonic stuff on there, if your a fan like me you should check out his page.

Top 10 DC alternate realities.

So last time I looked at my 10 favorite alternate realities in Marvel Comics. This time let's look at my top 10 favorite alternate realities in DC. Now, again, these are not the most important, or the ones that have been in the best stories, these are just the 10 I happen to like the most.

10) Earth-10 or Nazi Earth. I talked about this world before, so I won't spend too much time on it now. This is a world ruled by the Nazis complete with it's own Nazi version of the Justice League, the JLAxis. We've only seen this world briefly during the train wreck of a series Countdown. But I feel there's a lot of potential for great stories in this world and I hope we see more of it.

9) All Star Batman and Robin. I might be alone on this but I absolutely loved this series. I love the over the top dialogue, I loved the way the JLA was portrayed in it, I loved the more creepy serial killer take on the Joker, I just loved it from start to finish.

8) All Star Superman. There was something so special about this. Grant Morrison took the over the top, goofy, and down right stupid elements and feel of silver age Superman and made it feel so real. This book felt like modern day mythology. If you never read this, you should.

7) The Dark Knight Returns. I loved the Dark Knight Returns, I mean who didn't? There were so many interesting elements in this world. While I agree with the majority of fans that the sequel was a pretty big mess I still felt it had elements that were really interesting. I liked how Atom was kept in a petri dish and was living a barbarian's like fighting microscopic monsters. I liked how Flash was kept prisoner and forced to run to generate electricity. However flawed the execution of the Dark Knight sequel was it had some damn solid concepts.

6) Maximum's Earth. This one you might not have heard of. It was featured in a Superman/Batman story arch and featured a team of heroes called the Maximum's who were Avengers analogues. There was Viking (the Thor stand in), Soldier (Captain America), Hornet (Wasp), Monster (Hulk), Bug (Spider-man), Robot (Iron Man), and Wolfen (Wolverine). We never saw these guys again and I think it's a shame. This had the potential for so many great stories, similar to what Marvel does with it's DC stand ins, the Squadron Supreme. I for one hope we see the Maximums again.

5) Kingdom Come. What can I even say here that hasn't been said? This might be DC's most celebrated alternate universe story. The only reason this isn't higher is I just don't feel there is really much more story to be told in this universe and that's a pretty big factor for how I scored this list.

4) Earth-2. No, not that new one with the gay leather bar daddy Solomon Grundy. No I'm talking about the classic Earth 2. The original comic book universe, I had kinda hoped after Infinite Crisis when DC revived Earth 2 we would get more stories set in that world. Then New 52 happened and that hope, as well as any other hope I had regarding DC was brutally beaten to death then had it's corpse desecrated.

3) Tangent Earth. The idea behind this Earth is pretty simple. Creators took the names of DC characters and created whole new characters. Green Lantern had a mystical green lantern that could summon the dead. Flash was a female hero made of light with an array of light and energy based powers. Those were the most interesting ones to me but all and all the universe itself was pretty interesting and I hope we continue to see more of it.

 2) Charlton Comics world. These heroes were originally published by the now defunct Charlton Comics. They were bought by DC and folded into the regular DC universe after Crisis on Infinite Earths. Captain Atom and Blue Beetle even became Justice Leaguers. I mentioned before what a soft spot I have for these characters, especially Blue Beetle and The Question. The Charlton Earth was restored at the end of Infinite Crisis but we never really saw much of it. I would love an ongoing series set in this world. Interesting side not in case you didn't know, the heroes from Watchmen were based on these guys.

1) The Crime Syndicate of Amerika. I did a villain spotlight on these guys before, so I won't spend too much time on them here. I'm not a fan of the pre-crisis Earth-3 version, it's the anti-matter universe version I feel is really interesting. These guys are some of my all time favorite comic book characters, there is just something about this bad ass evil absolutely gangster version of the JLA that I can't help but love.

So there you have it, my favorite DC alternate universes. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Top 10 Marvel alternate realities.

I've said before here how much I love the idea of the multiverse. I am not only fascinated by the scientific theories behind it but also I think it's a great story telling engine in sci fi. Comics feature tons of interesting alternate realities and I thought I would take a look at my favorite ones. Let's start with Marvel's. Now these are not necessarily the most important ones, just the 10 I like the most.

10) Spider-man: India You might not have even heard of this one. This was a 4 issue mini series published in the states back in 2005 and India the year before. In this world Spider-man is an Indian boy named Pavitr Prabhakar. Spider-man, as well as the analogues of Doc Ock and Green Goblin get their powers from mystical elements of Indian mythology rather then super science. This came and went without much fanfare but I found it interesting to see Spider-man transferred into a different culture in this "Elseworlds" type tale. If you haven't read it you should give it a shot.

9) Marvel Noir. This was a series of mini series taking various Marvel characters and setting them in a noir style 1930's world of gangsters and crime stories. Also Spider-man Noir was even featured in the recent Spider-man: Shattered Dimensions game. It worked pretty well for the street level characters like Spider-man but not as well I thought for characters like the X-men or Iron Man. The Spider-man mini's were the only ones I thought were actually good, the rest were either OK or weak, but the concept alone is enough to intrigue me and I hope we see more of the Noir world.

8) Mangaverse. I talked about this a little bit in an earlier post so I won't go to much into it here. The Mangaverse books had high and low points but I was still impressed with the creativity behind the concept of it.

7) Earth X. This was a simply amazing read. In this dystopian future ever single person on Earth has super powers. One of the things I found most interesting was Marvels two most popular heroes, Spider-man and Wolverine, were both fat has been losers in this world. If you haven't read this you should, and the two sequels, Universe X and Paradise X, while not as good are worth reading too.

6) MC2. Set roughly 15 years in the future, this world features a new generation of super heroes, most well know among them being Spider-girl, the daughter of Mary Jane and Spider-man. It also featured a few other short lived books, like J2, the heroic son of the Juggernaut, and A-Next, the next generation of Avengers. J2 was always my favorite. I don't quite get the feverish devotion this line of books got from its hardcore fans, but it definitely had it's charm.

5) 2099. Set in the corporate run dystopian future of 2099 AD, a new crop of heroes emerges, many taking on the mantel of heroes from the 'Heroic Age".  I actually feel like most of the 2099 books were pretty bad. But Spider-man 2099 was a pretty damn good book. From what I understand Peter David went to Marvel with the idea of Spider-man 2099 and Marvel decided to stretch it into a line. Some of the other books like Doom 2099 had it's moments but a lot of them like Hulk 2099 were dogshit. Still the strength of Spider-man 2099 alone is enough to keep this universe on this list for me.

4) Marvel Zombies. Zombies and super heroes, two great tastes that taste great together. For those of you who don't know Marvel Zombies is a world in which a zombie virus turns the world's super humans into flesh eating zombies. While this franchise did get run into the dirt the first few minis and one shots are damn good reads.

3) Supreme Power. This 'Ultimate Squadron Supreme' series was full of compelling characters and interesting, sometimes pretty high concepts. This is another one that was eventually run into the dirt but the early Supreme Power is some of the best super hero comics to come out of the last decade. And speaking of the Squadron Supreme....

2) Squadron Supreme. The idea here was simple, a team of heroes on another universe who were obvious JLA knock offs. They fought the Avengers a few times, long before we ever got JLA/Avengers, and even had their own critically acclaimed 12 issue series in which they decide the best way to protect their world is to rule it. If you haven't read it you should, it's available in trade.

1) The Ultimate Universe. This is another one that got ran into the dirt (I'm seeing a pattern here Marvel) but when it first started it was unbelievably good. Ultimate Spider-man  Vol 1 is still one of my all time favorite Spider-man stories, Ultimate X-men is still my favorite X-men series ever, Ultimates vol 1 is one of those trades I always loan to people who are getting into comics and want to read the classics, right along side stuff like Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen. The Ultimate universe is nowhere near as good as it used to be since Jeph Loeb ran it into the dirt with Ultimatum, but it has it's moments and I feel it's picking up steam again.

So there you have it. My favorite Marvel alternate universes. Soon I'll look at my favorite alternate DC universes. 

Bechtloff Movie Night: Cube. (1997)

With Halloween coming I've been taking a look at some horror movies on here. So far this month I've talked about Jason X, Jennifer's Body, the Nightmare on Elm Street remake, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and Return of the Living Dead 3. Now let's take a look at a movie I feel never got the exposure it deserved, Cube.

Cube starts out with a man waking up in a cube room, There are little doors on all four walls, one on the floor, and one on the ceiling. Obviously confused as to where he is he goes through one of the doors to an identical except each room has a different number.. Once in there a trap activates that cuts him to pieces. And that's how out film starts.

The film follows a small band of people who have also woken up in the cube. They try to find their way out while avoiding the traps. We see some of them try to work together, some look out only for themselves. In fighting takes just as much of a toll on the group as the external dangers. Along the way they find a mentally challenged man, and argue over whether or not to bring him along. Eventually....spoiler alert....the retard is the only one who survives and makes it out.

We are never given an explanation for the Cube. We are given hints and theories but no solid explanation. At one point they seem to figure out that the rooms with prime numbers have traps, but even that is just a theory and not a proven rule. There were two other Cube movies, a sequel Cube 2: Hypercube and a prequel Cube Zero. I never really bothered to watch either of them because I can't help but feel like any sequel can't help but diminish this movie. I could be wrong, but it just seems like Cube works so well because of how little is ever known. If you haven't seen this movie I can't recommend it enough. Go get this movie. It's truly a classic.