Monday, July 30, 2012

   It's been just over a week. In the summer Americans have been conditioned to do things. Hollywood has made big money on midnight openings. The Dark Knight Rises was expected to make massive amounts of money. I don't think anyone ever thought it would be associated with this kind of tragedy. Let's forget about all of the bad parenting arguments about kids even being there. I have certainly been a part of a few of them. Let's forget about the stupid lawsuits from people trying to make a buck. Let's remember the heroes. I read People magazine's articles about a few of them. Comic book worthy in a very real world.

  People will ask why for years to come. Was he bullied once or twice? Was he ignored at home? Why didn't the theatre do more? All legit questions, but asked at the wrong time. Tragedy is usually never been prevented because it's always easier to see what should've been done after the fact. It's not fair, but it sure seems to be reality. I think all of this is part of a bigger problem. One that I certainly don't know how to solve. Let's start with a 24 year old killer of men, women, and children.

 James Holmes was not in a gang. He was not a career criminal. He was an honor student. People seem to be saying he is getting different treatment for being white. I am not going to debate stereotypes or play the race card. It doesn't matter. I have a problem with this whole potential insanity thing...

“He claims he doesn’t know why he’s in jail,” the worker said Thursday. “He asked, ‘Why am I here?’”
Holmes, 24, who is charged with shooting a dozen people to death and wounding 58 more at a screening of the new Batman movie, was also complaining of a stomach ache caused by lousy jail food after his sixth day at the Arapahoe County Detention Center, the worker said.
“He’s claiming his belly hurts him,” the worker said. “He complained once that he didn’t like the food . . . The guy killed 12 people, and he’s upset that he’s not getting a four-star meal?”

He sat quietly in court as more than 100 counts were charged to him. I don't like the insanity plea for things like this. I know the definition of insanity and don't need it quoted back to me, but it should not be allowed. James Holmes knew exactly what he was doing. He planned it out. I don't buy this memory loss b.s. either.
So why did he do it? What is to blame? I don't know, but I will say it's not a movie, a video game, comic books, or a song.

 I've always believed that if someone has a screw loose they will snap anyway. It's not a movie. Millions of others saw the same movie and didn't go and shoot up a theatre. I think the problem is a couple of things.
In some cases we have become to nice. Growing up in the 80's was special. We could be parented by more than just our parents. We weren't handed everything. We didn't have video phones and You Tube.

 I'm not blaming any of those, but it has given people a vehicle to be heard and sometimes for the wrong reasons. Parents allow kids to have cell phones at age 8 or younger. Kids are allowed to dwell in their rooms online and doing whatever. There will be parents that will scream right now, "i know what my kids watch and who they talk to." I am here to tell you....NO YOU DON'T. You might think you do, but you don't. We have access to things that our parents don't know about. I was smoking pot and buying drugs at 13 and I guarantee that my parents didn't have a clue. It is so much worse now.

 Any kid with a computer can post a video. We are able to get attention for the wrong reasons and maybe this was his motive. He will now be famous. He will now be remembered. Things happen and they go viral.
We live in a world that craves attention. It's scary where that will lead.

 The suspect remains under 23-hour lock down, leaving his cell just once a day. Authorities fear that other inmates could target Holmes and have him wear a bulletproof vest during his daily walk.
The jail worker said most folks inside the county lockup consider Holmes’ memory loss a ruse.
“He needs to save his act for the jury because no one here is buying it,” the worker said. “Everyone is convinced he is faking it.” Published reports indicated that Holmes mailed a notebook filled with gruesome sketches and details of his plans for the attack in the crowded theater. The notebook was in a package sent to a professor at the University of Colorado, where Holmes was a Ph.D. candidate until dropping out of school just prior to the killings. The FBI snapped up the evidence after school officials notified them that the package was at the university

 I cannot imagine trying to defend this guy, but the insanity plea should not be allowed. I am afraid of what comes next. A couple of films are being re-cut or pulled from released. This is the wrong course of action. When we were young we played violent video games, we beat each other with sticks, and listened to violent rap music. The majority doesn't go and do these horrible things. A world of censorship isn't the answer, but I think we need something. This kind of thing will happen again. It seems that it always does.

 I feel for the victims. I am impressed by the heroes of that day. I think we should all learn to be more careful. We have so many things in this country that need fixing. I am disgusted that this tragedy has been turned into an excuse to argue fire arm rights. I hate that anyone can sue anyone at anytime. I think most of all I that these things continue to happen. We seem to take pride in our education, but it often feels like we don't learn a thing

Friday, July 20, 2012

Does the Dark Knight Rise?

     Comic book movies are everywhere. In the past few years they have become franchises and made billions, but they all seem to have a common curse. The plague of the third movie. Let's be honest. Blade Trinity, Xmen Last Stand, and Spider-Man 3 were all pretty much garbage. Now it's Bat-Man's turn. The Dark Knight was considered by most to be epic. Chris Nolan won everyone over with his realistic take on the legend of Bruce Wayne. There is ridiculous hype, questionable casting, and lot's of expectations. Can the movie live up?

  Eight years have passed since Bat-Man defeated the joker and assumed blame for Harvey Dent's crimes. Gotham is peaceful and Commissioner Gordon, again played brilliantly by Gary Oldman, is burdened. He is having a hard time with the decisions they made at the end of the second film. Bruce is a recluse and for some reason a plan is hatched by the mysterious Bane. Selena Kyle enters Gotham to rob from the rich and steals Bruce Wayne's finger prints. Wayne Industries is losing money. They have built a source of clean energy , but Bruce will not use it. Miranda Tate arrives as a questionable benefactor and Lucious Fox can only do so much.  Bane begins to return crime to Gotham and Bruce must don the cape and cowl to combat the very deadly Bane. He is given new allies in the form of John Blake, an honest cop, and possibly Selena Kyle if he can trust her. The bigger problem is when Bruce learns of Bane's ties with the League of Shadows. The evil entity from the first Nolan film.

  Nolan takes a lot of liberties with the Batman mythology. Pulling from several different comic stories for what is billed as an epic finale. It is a good story. It's a bit long and some of the characters are a bit too altered for my taste, but not so much as that I didn't enjoy them. Let's talk about the characters and the casting.

  Nolan took the most liberties with Bane. He is smaller. There is no wrestling mask. There were complaints with the voice and his signature "venom," is not around. Tom Hardy was brilliant. He did a great job with just his eyes and sometimes muffled voice. Nolan made the character pure evil and it was at last a villain that you were truly frightened of. The Joker was indeed chaos and Bane in Nolan's world is just plain evil. The origin was changed, but it worked well. Bane in my opinion does not disappoint.

 Marion Colliard was cast as Miranda Tate, but in reality is Talia Al Gul. The daughter a Ras and was played very well. It's hinted at several times before her reveal, but Nolan again does it very well. I wanted for her to refer to him as "Detective" so many times, but it doesn't happen. I like the way she emotionally plays Talia, but she was not as physically opposing as the character is. Talia is deadly and in this film she falls short of that.

 It is nice to see Liam return in flashback/ hallucination. I always liked his casting as Ras.

 The most controversial casting was Anne Hathaway as Catwoman/Selena Kyle. The suit was scrutinized and so was the mask and her storyline. Anne was incredible. Nolan did and excellent job of bringing Catwoman to life. She was very different from the Tim Burton version, but believable as a butt kicker and thief. I liked seeing her on screen and she might be the closest version to the current comic that we have seen yet. The debate of who is the best Catwoman is one that will rage for quite a while. I won't say she's the best, but she does do well.

 So what worked? I liked John Blake and there are hints of him possibly assuming the mantle or becoming the sidekick. I would prefer you just make JGL Dick Grayson and call it done. He was essentially Robin minus a costume. He was a bit of a Robin hybrid. Traits of all three of the most popular versions of Batman's sidekick. Michael Keaton was good, but I am not sure anyone will ever play Batman as good as Bale. He is so good a balancing both sides of the character.

 He begins injured which I will assume is a result of the fall at the end of the last film. I loved the way he overcomes the injury and he has great chemistry with Hathaway. The cameo by Cillian Murphy was great and the ties with the first film were weaved in very well. The first battle with Bane is filled with emotion and Nolan does it extremely well.

 It does have it's problems. I feel like there should have been a Joker reference, but I won't condemn the film for passing on it. The "conquered city," thing went a bit long and so did the prison sequence. I liked them as plot, but it felt like it could've been shortened. I wasn't happy with Bruce Wayne losing his money and company. He proved to be a smart business man in the first film and Lucious Fox would never let Wayne Ent become a profit losing company. He would have hidden some away and seen any hostile takeover coming.

 I wasn't a fan of Batman in the open fighting in daylight either. I know he needed an army of cops, but seeing him in the open gave me horrible classic tv show flashbacks.

 My biggest flaw is the ending. Hints are made, but what the audience is left with is completely opposite the character of Bruce Wayne. He is a guy driven by his need to seek justice and has condemned himself to pay the ultimate price for as long as he had to. He simply wouldn't walk away for anyone or anything. It's not who Batman is. I feel like Nolan just wanted to end it so he didn't have to make another one.

 The film is good. The action is stepped up a notch. It is by far the best third chapter comic book movie yet, but in my opinion it doesn't rise above The Dark Knight.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Spider-Man...Amazing or not worth getting caught in the web?

Comic book movies have been summer movie staples for the past few years. The last time we saw Spider-Man on the big screen, a bad taste was left in the mouths of fans everywhere. I for one was hoping that Sam and Tobey would reunite if for no other reason than to apologize for Spider-Man 3.

Sony had other plans. The franchise would be rebooted with an entirely new cast. We know all of this, but the question becomes does it work?

The rumor mill was flooded with stories. The direction would be that of the first Hulk. Peter would be genetically altered and that is why the spider bite changes him. Bad idea. Let me say that was merely a rumor. Thank God. The story we got was something different than the one we were familiar with. I was ok with Andrew Garfield, but we will come back to him later.

Marc Webb spins a different, but somewhat satisfying web. Peter Parker is surrendered to his Aunt and Uncle when his parents mysteriously flee. He grows up and awkward science nerd with daddy issues. In Webb’s tale he is infatuated with Gwen Stacy. A slightly more popular science nerd. Mary Jane Watson is nowhere to be found and this portion is much more true to the comic. Peter is bullied by Flash Thompson and is the star of the basketball team. I would have preferred football, but that is just me. Pete has a good heart, but isn't strong enough to stand up to Flash. When he finds his father’s missing research, he becomes involved with Oscorp and Dr. Curt Connors, who in this story was Pete's dad’s research partner. Gwen and Pete grow closer and Pete's obsession with his father's research grows as well. Genetically altered spiders play a part and of course Peter is bitten. We know this and it is done slightly different than both the comic and previous movies. The result is the same.

Pete develops the typical spider powers and learns to use them. I have problems with some of the way he does this. I am not a fan of using the powers in public. People are not that stupid. The scene on the basketball court is cute, but the minute you see Spidey on the news, you could probably figure out he was the kid from your gym class.

 Webb also returns to the comic roots by bringing back web shooters. I liked the explanation of where the fluid comes from and Peter's ability to build them. I was ok with the organic webs from the previous films, but I was a fan of the way they played out in this version. The ode to the wrestling ring is a nice touch and the way he builds to the suit works. Let's talk about the suit.

When I first saw it, I really wasn't sure. On screen it looks fantastic. It works really well and looks better than the classic suit that Tobey wore. I was never a fan of the bubble webs on the Raimi suit and this one is much cleaner. I give Webb and his crew mad props on the costume.

Peter learns more about Dr. Connors who has a break through, but it ultimately goes wrong leading to him becoming the Lizard. Spider-Man in the meantime is out playing vigilante after his Uncle is killed. If I had one major flaw with this film it was Uncle Ben. Martin Sheen does ok, but the story doesn't do the character justice. He is a moral anchor for Spider-Man, but it felt like his death was glazed over. It happened and Peter was out looking for revenge. I had a problem with this lack of emotion. Uncle Ben's death is pivotal in Pete becoming the character we love and I don't feel it was done justice in this film.

Pete looking for Ben's killer leads to the police hunting Spidey. Connors in the meantime is rampaging through the city as a giant lizard. He decides that he can make a better race and it becomes Spider-Man's mission to stop him. It's a simple story, but does it work?


Rhys Ifans was phenomenal. Webb lifted the Dr. Connors story almost exactly from the comic. A brilliant scientist who is full of morals, but accidently corrupts himself while trying to fix his own deformity. There is a back story that gets hinted at, but not followed through with and I'm ok with it. We are never formally introduced to Norman Osborn, but Oscorp plays a pivotal role in this story. The Lizard looks amazing on screen and the fight scenes are really good. I was a bit disappointed that we never meet Connor's family as they were big parts of the comic, but I can live with it.


I loved Dennis Leary as Capt. Stacy. He brings the usual sarcasm mixed with a sense of honor and duty. He is believable as the veteran police Captain and credible as the over protective father. It was great to see C. Thomas Howell in a decent cameo. Stay gold Pony Boy. I was a little disappointed with Sally Field as Aunt May. She never really looked the part for me. I kept waiting for her to tell Pete that "Life was like a box of chocolates."


Emma Stone is perfect as Gwen Stacy. She is the right amount of sexy with tough. She comes across as smart and good natured. The chemistry with her and Garfield works very well. It is every bit as solid as Tobey and Kirsten. I wanted to see their story continue and I am excited to see Emma take Gwen to her characters eventual close. Andrew Garfield does well as Spidey. I like the fact that he is so skinny. Spidey was never big and Garfield looks great when he is on screen in the suit. The wise cracks were there and he does a good job of bringing a modern Peter Parker to life, but there is still something missing. In fact it was missing from the entire movie.

The 3D is breath taking. The CGI looks awesome. The story is good and leaves you wanting more. The problem with Webb's Spider-Man was heart. The lack of it. This film fails to capture the emotion that Raimi and cast did so well. It goes back to what I said about Uncle Ben's death. You never really felt the emotion. You never really connect with this Peter on an emotional level. Emotion was always one of the keys to what made Spidey great and it is lacking in this movie. The visual is great and people will probably love it. Watching Spider-Man swing through New York is a lot of fun and I recommend I-Max 3D. If the story starts over from here, I can live with it. It is a decent take on a much loved character. The first hour drags a bit, but all in all better than many probably expected. I won't call it "amazing," but it was worth taking the spin.