Sunday, July 29, 2012

Japanese Evangelion 3.0 Teaser

There are few films upcoming that I'm quite so excited for as "Evangelion 3.0:  Japanese subtitle".  The first one was decent, the second one ROCKED, and now the third film of the quadrilogy will be released come this November - in Japan.  The English dub probably won't be out until, oh say, 2014 or so.  But that's a different problem with different concerns, for now, here's the first teaser:

And in proper Evangelion fashion, the trailer makes no sense.  All we see is a psychedelic rainbow piano playing a song.  A very nice song, with very nice visuals, but hopefully this is symbolic of something or other instead of being an actually representation of what "Eva 3" will be like.  Because as wonderfully weird as a sudden shift to musical interpretations might be for this franchise, I would prefer to see Shinji and Asuka and Rei's storylines concluded, perhaps in a more pleasant fashion.  Maybe?  Considering how "Eva 2" ended with us virtually at Third Impact, the third movie in this series is hopefully going to be hard core.

So the review for this will be up... within the decade.  Beyond that, I'm not sure.  I don't think I can wait for dubbing this time, so there might even be two reviews.  All I know is that I really doubt I'll be disappointed.

However, if you're feeling trolled, here's a fan-made(?) trailer that seems to have more meat on it.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Final Fantasy VI LP Episodes 1 and 2

Hello children!  At the beginning of the month I promised that me and my FFWiki friends would be making an LP together, and as of now, the very first two hours of that great work have been completed and are on Youtube thanks to the work of my buddy, Scathey.

I'm on for the second hour, episodes 2.1-2.4, if you want to enjoy me, enjoy me.  Here is a link to the whole Playlist, where you can watch me if you are so inclined.  My audio isn't great but its something.

And now since this post is functionally over, here's a picture of Terra hugging a Moogle:

File:DFF Terra and Moogle.png

Friday, July 27, 2012

Cloud Atlas Trailer

"Cloud Atlas" seems to be a movie about everything.  Pirates, musical theory, mountain adventuring, lost love, found love, resurrection, literature, gangsters, explosions, huge flower structures, and the FUTURE!!!  The trailer below is nearly six-minutes long, and I don't think they could have sacrificed a second to fully explain this movie.

So since this trailer is just too amazing, I had to look up what the heck was actually going on during this trailer, since it seemed like the world's most gi-huge-mungous epic, a movie that could easily last nine hours - and don't think they haven't made nine hour movies before, they've made 175 hour movies. This is just two hours and forty minutes, about the length of "The Dark Knight Rises".  The reason its that long is because its actually an adaptation of "Cloud Atlas", a 2004 book by David Mitchell, which is not one continuous story over time, but actually six episodes of totally different people across something like a thousand years.  They're connected because every story features the characters hearing the stories of the previous people.

Altogether, "Cloud Atlas" looks like a great big feast of a movie.  It either will be an impressive adventure of recurring themes across time or a jumbled mess of confusing stupidity.  I dunno.  But it definitely is not something that should be missed.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Beasts of the Southern Wild

After "Batman 3", I had to be sure that the next movie I saw in theaters was something completely different.  I couldn't go out and see some huge action Blockbuster because no matter what it was, it would just pale miserably in comparison to "The Dark Knight Rises".  I didn't really have much hope for the remake of "Total Recall", since its pointless and they killed all the great 80s action charm, but it really will not stand any chance at all if it has to follow up the biggest movie of the year.  In that view, I went to see a completely different kind of movie:  a small Indie Neorealist film about poor people living on America's contracting frontier.  And since its a nice serious drama, I guess I need to shed the Batman fanboy persona and take on the academic one.  *Changes Hats*

"Beasts of the Southern Wild" is the first film directed by Benh Zeitlin, a first-time director, but probably not a last-time director.  His film has already made a huge splash amongst the stuffy elites of film criticism, even getting a Camera de'Or (the Best film made by a newbie director) at the Cannes Film Festival*, the Mecca of film academia, and it won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.  Interestingly, "Beasts" was filmed entirely without professional actors, instead using first-time people found locally in New Orleans, but it also stars Quvenzhané Wallis, a - then - five-year-old actress.  Usually working with a little kid of any age is a huge gamble for your movie, because unless you can get that kid to stop being cute and give the performance you need, your whole movie will just collapse.  Remember "Phantom Menace"?  But Quvenzhané Wallis is not just an aversion to that rule, she is the singular best thing about this movie.  If "Beasts of the Southern Wild" goes to the Oscars, it will be because of her more than anybody else.  She's that remarkable.

That's not to say the rest of the movie is unremarkable, its a filthy, grungy movie starring the poorest people in all of America.  These are people who live beyond the edge, sitting in the Louisiana bayous with the land slipping away below their feet.  Everything they have is falling into the sea, and while the rest of the world is already moved on, their holding onto everything they've ever known, but also living in abject, frightening poverty.  However, Benh Zeitlin isn't a crusading evangelist out to spread the word to save these people, his use of the camera seems to admire them.  He's not calling us to action, he's praising a culture that is literally drowning under the moving tides of the world.  Despite all their ignorance and lack of a future, they're still walking bravely into whatever life will bring them.  Zeitlin doesn't pity them, he admires them, and this is why "Beasts of the Southern Wild" is a very interesting movie.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Man of Steel Trailer

No, I'm not going to do a Super Movie Superdown for this movie:

Last year I mentioned that I thought that Superman was actually unfilmable, and... this trailer doesn't actually disprove me, but it sure goes a great way to show that I'm an idiot.  Very is only about ten seconds of Superman, but what little we see is incredible, the perfect teaser.  We see Superman working in blue collar mediocrity, we see Superman hitching a ride, we see a young boy running around in a cape, a slow montage of Americana set - oddly - to a song lifted from the Lord of the Rings.  Then we see the big deal:  Superman blasting away with a sonic boom, and that's it.

Well, even though this trailer tells us nothing, I'm hugely excited.  Zack Synder is directing, and it seems he's finally learned some kind of maturity with the camera if this teaser is to be believed, since it isn't just endless slow-mo attacks and anime cliches.  Henry Caville is Superman... and no, you don't need to know who he is.  He was the bland stonefaced here in "Immortals", which actually isn't a good sign since that movie wasn't even interesting enough to review when I saw it.  But as for a good sign:  Master Christopher Nolan is producing.  Hey, he hasn't failed me yet!  Especially when this teaser is promising an epic heroic poem for the Superman character, a level of maturity that none of the other films seem to have tried for.

"Man of Steel" is coming in 2013.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

Having spent the last eight weeks living and breathing the life of Batman, writing endless reviews and trying my best to 100% "Arkham City" (and failing), and even once dressing up in a cape and actually beating up local criminals, it would have been a terrible shame if it all was for naught.  If all that effort and dangerous obsession was all to lead up to something less than one of the best movies I've ever seen.  I made sure to be reasonable with my expectations, to lower my sights to just another fine Master Christopher Nolan film.  If it was just mediocre but enjoyable like the recent "Spider-Man" movie, I was ready.  Though in that case, I would have fallen into an existential crisis about just what the heck my whole life had been about.

Right now, I'm not in an existential crisis.  I'm not even merely satisfied.  I'm gleeful, I'm ecstatic, I'm bouncing off the walls in idiot joy.  "The Dark Knight Rises" is not merely a good movie, it doesn't merely wrap up Master Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy in a grand flourish, and it does not merely ante up the stakes of this Batman adventure to an unprecedented desperation and bleakness, its also one of the best goddamn experiences I've ever had in a movie theater.  I mean, I'll have to quantify the fact that I've been eagerly awaiting this movie for weeks, that I was sitting with a cheering crowd full of Batman fans*, but - and I feel like an absolute crazy person for saying this - this may be the best movie I've ever seen in my entire life.  I don't say that easily, I don't say without embarrassment, but I simply cannot think of a movie I have enjoyed more.  It was everything I wanted out of "The Dark Knight Rises" - all of my wildest dreams come true and still somehow more.  Its at the point that I am 100% certain that this is the best movie of 2012, without any possible hope of real competition in any way.  This is THE Batman movie, its a whole new league.  Before when Tim Burton said that his movies look like "Batman on Ice", I thought he was just sucking up.  Now I know, he was right.  I still love Batman on Ice, but "The Dark Knight Rises" is THAT good.  Holy shit.

This unfortunately is where the non-spoilers are going to end.  I really only had the vaguest idea what was going to occur during "The Dark Knight Rises", and I really could not have guessed the sheer magnitude of the final product.  This isn't merely a superhero adventure, this is a war movie.  Imagine the biggest most impossible odds for Batman to overcome, multiply by about one hundred, then you might have a brief clue as to what "The Dark Knight Rises" is actually about.  But I don't want to spoil anything - WATCH THE MOVIE.  WATCH IT NOW.  Then come back here, and you can read the rest of this review.  The less you know about whats going to happen, the better.  You will be pleasantly surprised.  "The Dark Knight Rises" is going to knock your asshole insideout, it will grow tumors of pure awesome inside your brain, and then it will go back in time and punch Hitler in the face in case you have any lingering doubts.  This movie is simply incredible, fantastic, amazing, holy fucking shit this movie rocked!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Batman Movie Batdown Week 8 - The Dark Knight

"The Dark Knight" is the biggest, boldest, hugest, and most Batmanest movie ever made.  Its also one of the most successful films of all time, singlehandedly making more than a billion dollars worldwide - a figure that absolutely dwarfs the previous record held by 1989's "Batman", which only hit 400 million.  Today if you go on the Internet and hear a reference to something Batman-related, nine times out of ten its going to be a "Dark Knight" quote.  "He's not the hero we deserve, but he's the hero we need."  "Some men just want to watch the world burn."  "WHY SO SERIOUS???"  This is the Batman movie that has defined the current generation, and probably will remain for decades a classic.

In many ways, "The Dark Knight" dwarfs the other Batman films, because its just so big, so amazing, that its hard to remember that the other Batman films have even happened.  Even Tim Burton admitted recently that his Batman films feel like "Batman on Ice" compared to Master Christopher Nolan's epic.  And epic is indeed the term to use for "The Dark Knight", more than any other movie, this is the story that really drives Batman to the very wall.  Its not merely the biggest Blockbuster spectacle, its a brutal story that shoves Batman beyond his limits, where Bruce Wayne loses the only links he had to a normal life.  No superhero movie before or since has ever tested it protagonist so deeply, forcing them to almost abandon their capes and mask, and then lose everything.  If you're wondering why I was so disappointed with "Iron Man 2" or couldn't call "The Avengers" a timeless classic, its because "The Dark Knight" raised the bar.  This is a new class of Blockbuster, chillingly bleak, frightening in how it pushes its hero right to the very wire.  And above all, well-crafted, inventive, and constantly exciting.

You really cannot deny the simple fact:  "The Dark Knight" is the best Batman movie ever made... for now.  In a few hours, that fact may change forever.  The new interpretation Master Nolan began with "Batman Begins" was truly perfected in "The Dark Knight", to the point that this film actually transcends simply being a Blockbuster or a superhero movie.  Those terms are too pedestrian for a movie like this.  "The Avengers" is just fanservice with a plot, "The Dark Knight" is brutal.  It doesn't want to just give comic book fans the same stories they have been reading for decades, it wants to test the Batman idea, to place him in the most extreme circumstances conceivable and see if he can survive, to see if Gotham can overcome the full force of a supervillain on the loose.  The Joker isn't a cackling bank robber, he's a terrorist, trying to destroy everything he sees.  What is the Batman if not a costumed guardian of civilization?  Order vs. Chaos.  For that reason, this is really the ultimate Batman movie.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Batman Movie Batdown Week ∅ - Batman B-Movies

Yeah, there are still more Batman movies!  It never ends, does it?  You thought we would be quite nicely finished with just the Batman film serials, didn't you?  You thought that was the bottom layer of the weirdness?  You thought wrong!  There is no end to Batman weirdness.  Considering that Batman is one of the most popular fictional characters of the 20th century, there is no way that Batman's film career would simply end thanks to copyright and intellectual property laws.  Just because DC Comics owns the rights, that doesn't mean they can stop random film companies from creating their own artistic visions of the Caped Crusader.  Oh no.  Before I even think of hitting "The Dark Knight" tomorrow, we need to go over the strange, embarrassing, and sometimes downright terrifying history of B-Movie Batman.

Unfortunately, these being B-movies, they're very rare.  At least one has been outright lost to history entirely, and the others are very difficult to find.  Because of this fact, sadly, "The Wild World of Batwoman" is the only unauthorized Batman movie you can legally own today - and there's a whole long story behind that.  This also means, tragically, that "The Wild World of Batwoman" and "Alyas Batman en Robin " are the only unauthorized Batman movie I've ever seen.  And this is not from lack of trying, I desperately researched through the night, had a very unsuccessful battle with a torrent download, and eventually had to give up.  There were some very sketchy download sites that I'm sure would have given me many very entertaining viruses, but not one Batman film.  So for now, I'm running off what little I could learn from various Wikipedia pages, Youtube vids, and other lazy levels of research.

Just so that you know that I'm not terribly lazy, the big problem here is that five out of the seven Batman films are made in the Philippines and in Tagalog.  These movies are so obscure that I don't think they've ever been translated into English, let alone released in any form anywhere in the English-speaking world.  "The Wild World of Batwoman" is an American film, and was featured on an episode of "Mystery Science Theater 3000", so finding it takes thirty seconds.  I think less people than the average readership of this blog have heard of "Batman Fights Dracula", and its made even more impossible to find because it shares nearly the same name as "The Batman" movie, "Batman vs. Dracula".  So for now, this is an admission of defeat.  Maybe one day I'll be able to enjoy every one of these films.  Maybe one day.  Anyway, B-Movie Batman:

Monday, July 16, 2012

BlueHighwind's 188 Favorite Films Ever

 400 Posts, WOO!!!

Usually when people list things, they come up with a mentally pleasing number like ten, fifty, one-hundred, two-hundred, some kind of multiple of five, even better if it ends in a zero.  This is because we have a decimal number system, we love base ten.  Among people today, base-ten is not universal, but its clearly overwhelmingly popular, being the numerical system of choice for the Europeans, the Arabs the Chinese, and the Indians, and that pretty much covers all the most dominant civilizations on this planet.  When humans have five fingers on each hand, ten altogether, it feels like things are divinely inspired to be in groups of ten or five.  Ten Commandments, for example.  Unfortunately, I'm an entirely irrational person, so despite my efforts, I could not find a way to make a list in anything more or less than 188.  Sorry about that.

I've never tried to compile a list of everyone of my favorite movies.  Mostly because it was a deeply daunting task that would require a great deal of work.  And I hate work.  I've seen roughly sixteen quadrillion movies over the course of my twenty-one years, so that means a basic list of Top 5 or Top 10 or even Top 100 simply would not be able to cover every single that encompasses the true width and breath of all of my favorite movies.  What exactly do I mean by my favorite movies?  Just exactly that, movies that are somewhat artistically interesting, or especially scary, funny, insane, or exciting.  Especially movies that are entirely unlike anything I've seen before.  If you're bringing out a bright new interesting style or narrative device or just showing off incredible kung-fu, you'll probably end up on this list.  These are the movies that left me awed, its that simple.  So since I've seen sixteen quadrillion films, that means we have movies from all around the world, and a couple of films older than my grandparents.  Still, however, the main nuclear is American films from the last three decades, because I'm an American whose only existed in roughly that timeframe.  What more do you want from me?

Now obviously, this list isn't your list.  And it isn't the American Film Insitute's list.  I'm not going to put anything on this list just because some stuffy French film professor tells me that Terry Malice is the most brilliant filmmaker since Georges Melies, while he contemptuously blows cigarette smoke into my stupid American face.  And I'm not taking anything off the list because Roger Ebert gave it a thumb's down.  I don't care who said what about what, and that does double if they said "Tree of Life" was a great movie.  I don't care what award it got, or how many stars the Daily News gave it.  The numbering system is only the vaguest representation of my personal preference, nobody needs to get angry because I said "Troll 2" is a better movie than "Gladiator".  I did spend a week picking out these titles and working over which ones actually belong on the list.  I do not want to spend another week deciding if in fact "Freaked" should go into position 171 or 172.  Obviously, Number 1 is the best, 188 is the worst, but that doesn't mean any of these movies are any less awesome.

If your favorite movie didn't make the list, don't feel embarrassed to call me a moron for not including it.  This is a work in progress.  I still haven't seen every movie ever made, and I probably won't be truly satisfied with this list until we hit 500 entires.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Batman Movie Batdown Week 0 - Batman Serials

I did a great disservice to the history Batman in film by starting my Batman Movie Batdown in 1966 with "Batman: The Movie".  Because that was in no way the first time Batman had ever appeared on film, Batman's history goes back easily another twenty years, all the way to the middle of the Second World War.  And if we're really going to prepare ourselves for the glory that will be "The Dark Knight Rises", we need to look all the way back, to the very beginning.

Since serials haven't been shown in movies for about sixty years now, I guess I have to explain what they are.  Technically film serials are not really movies, they're just the prototypical form of the modern television shows, but instead playing at your local cinema before a real movie would begin.  Back then, movie theatres were only the kind of motion pictures available, so they would come complete with news reels, Golden Age cartoons, and various other kinds of entertainment, including the serial.  They were almost always adaptation of pulp fiction stories or comics, usually marketed for children.  The most famous serials still beloved today are probably "Buck Rogers", "Flash Gordon", and "Dick Tracy", and the art form was the direct inspiration for George Lucas when he created Star Wars in 1977.  Of course, being low budget, they don't feature a great deal of variety in sets, they often use stock footage and sound effects, their are rarely large casts or very impressive spectacles.

I haven't seen many serials myself, but they were clearly an important part of American culture in the first half of the 20th century.  So that means that the very first adaptation of a superhero comic was in serial form, specifically 1941's "Adventures of Captain Marvel", a show based on the most popular superhero of the time, Captain Marvel.  Since the early Fourties were exactly the peek era of superhero popularity*, film companies like Republic, Columbia, and Universal would produce about a dozen superhero serials based on characters like Superman, Captain America, and eventually, Batman.

There were actually two very different Batman serials produced:  1943's "The Batman"**, and 1949's "Batman and Robin".  These productions were put together when Batman was a very new cultural icon, having only been created by Bob Kane in 1939, only a handful of years prior.  Its as ancient as you could ever get with the Batman mythos.  Obviously being low-budget affairs, neither were in color, but there's a clear variety in quality here.  The 1949 serial shows a great deal of improvement over its predecessor, and is decent for a curiosity's view back to the Golden Age of the Dark Knight.  The 1943 serial is... just entirely terrible, frankly.

Batman Movie Batdown Week 7 - Batman Begins

In 1997 "Batman & Robin" destroyed the first Batman franchise.  In 2005, "Batman Begins" built a whole new one.  And for most of the world, we haven't looked back.  Christopher Nolan, Modern Master(TM), was tapped on to revive the franchise, and what a revival he did.  In a sea of mostly mediocre superhero films, Master Nolan's Batman films were simply a set above, utterly excellent action films that show the world what superhero films could be at their very best.  Just compare "Batman Begins" to "Fantastic Four", the other big superhero film of 2005.  Then you'll see the magnitude of what has been achieved here.  If you're wondering why I'm doing all this Batman madness, the answer lies somewhat in childhood memories of the old Burton-Schumacher films, somewhat in the Batman cartoons, but mostly in how completely awesome Master Nolan's movies are.

The funny thing, of course, being, is that in 2005 I purposefully avoided seeing "Batman Begins".  My logic was that "Batman Begins" made no sense - how could Batman begin when he already began in 1989's "Batman"?  This was the first example of a reboot that I can personally remember, fourteen-year-old me assumed at the time that this was yet another pointless remake in a time where there were dozens of pointless remakes, my mind going back to the rather pathetic 1998 American "Godzilla" movie or the hideously awful 2001 Tim Burton "Planet of the Apes" or to really dig to the bottom of the barrel, 2004's nonsense remake of "The Stepford Wives".  I don't have a very high opinion of remakes personally, especially remakes to perfectly fine movies like "Batman", my thoughts being that if Warner Bros wants more Batman films, they should just make a sequel.  What I didn't understand at the time was that Master Nolan actually had a new and very awesome take on the Batman story.  When you're dealing with a character as eternal and archetypal as Batman, you should let new visions and new voices come in and tell their stories, especially when they might be a goddamn genius like Master Nolan.  Unfortunately well... Hollywood's gone a bit insane with reboots lately, but that's another story altogether.

Honestly if every new incarnation of the Bat is as innovative and brilliant as "Batman Begins", I hope Warner Bros keeps making Batman movies until the day I die.  After that they can start making Green Lantern, I won't care particularly, I'll be dead.  I'll be watching movies in Heaven, which as we all know, are nothing but endless John Ford marathons*.  But that's all looking into the deep future, for right now, "Batman Begins" was a fantastic movie, and led the way directly for the even more fantastic "The Dark Knight".  Even without its indomitable sequel and the upcoming third one, "Batman Begins" would still be one of the best Batman films ever made.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Batman: Arkham City

At some point when you're reviewing so much Batman material, you slowly realize what Batman is.  Batman is a child fantasy where you can be A) hot millionaire playboy, B) superhero, C) badass grizzled action star, and D) the world's greatest detective.  So you're sexy, rich, a genius, and walking death on two fists - all that plus a sweet ass ride.  Chicks dig the car, man.  Also, if you're into that sort of thing, a lithe and limber couple of teenage sidesicks who will serve your every whim.  Being Batman is awesome, every bit of social awkwardness of sexual frustration can be blasted right on the Joker's face.  All superheroes are fantasy lives, but I think Batman's takes the cake.  His outfit even is one of the few superhero costumes that holds up to modern fashions, until say, poor Billy Zane here.  This is everything an adolescent fantasy could need, it comes complete with the free check to be as brooding as you want.  So at this point I'm tired of writing about Batman, I've decided that I need to be Batman.

"Batman: Arkham City" is currently the best Batman simulator on the market.  I figure that as long as I'm obsessing to an unhealthy degree over Batman, I should actually play a video game about the Dark Knight.  Luckily right now Batman isn't just at the peak of his popularity thanks to the good work of Master Nolan, but also because Rocksteady Games has been kicking some serious ass with their Arkham Series.  "Arkham Asylum" was a very successful game from a few years ago, and "Arkham City" is its even bigger sequel from last year.  Basically this is the second-biggest game of last year, right behind "Skyrim".  While "Arkham Asylum" was tightly focused on a single adventure in Gotham's infamous madhouse, "Arkham City" is a far larger and more impressive beast for me.  Basically you're Batman, and you're locked off in an "Escape From New York"-style crime quarantine zone.  And you have to punch a lot of people to get out.  So you're now given the full run of Batman powers, batarangs, gliding, detective powers, lots of weird gagets, and of course, street brawling.  If you're looking for a way to be Batman, "Arkham City" is your best bet.  Even better, the Batman you're pretending to be is the REAL Batman, the Kevin Conroy Batman, not one of those fake Batmen voice actors that appear in the DC animated movies every few months.

Of course, that means that "Arkham City" is a great game.  It gets pretty close to being a "Grand Theft Batmobile: Gotham City" since you're given an open sandbox John Carpenter-esque super prison to explore.  This means that you're free to continue your mission, or rescue victims, or complete sidemissions, just like Batman would do while flying over his city.  And you can ninja your way through groups of armed enemies, taking them down one by one.  Its that perfectly delicious feeling of BEING Batman, of living that fantasy out.  Basically this game equals, in game-form, the badassary that Master Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy offers in movie-form.  Its just incredible, and I really loved this game.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Batman Movie Batdown Week 6 - Batman & Robin

I was dreading this one, honestly.  "Batman & Robin" is an infamous film, easily the most notorious Superhero movie ever.  Superhero films aren't exactly a genre without its share of stinkers either:  "Spider-Man 3", "X-Men 3", "Superman 4", the lost Roger Corman "Fantastic Four" movie, and "The Spirit", but for some reason "Batman & Robin" stands alone at the top... or well, bottom in this case.  On the Internet there are a few movies that you have to hate:  the Star Wars Prequels, the later "Alien" movies, "The Matrix Revolutions", and "Batman & Robin", by far the most detested Batman movie ever made.  So right there that means I'm going to have a difficult time of this review right here, because I actually kinda like "Batman & Robin".

The development process of "Batman & Robin" was one of the most cutthroat committee-designed processes for any film in history.  "Batman & Robin" was something of an experiment, since it was not primarily made to be a movie, but instead was made to be a two-hour advertisement for Batman toys.  "Batman Returns" had previously threatened the mechanizing industry by being too dark*, and "Batman Forever" had rebuilt that empire and even included even more money by throwing Robin dolls into the mix.  Finally, "Batman & Robin" would be the ultimate victory of toyetic filmmaking, not to be topped until the Star Wars Prequels.  "Toyetic" is a term that means "suitability for merchandising purposes" - which curiously I've only ever heard used to describe "Batman & Robin".  Its fitting really, because this is a soulless movie made to sell crap to children.

Naturally we 90s kids loved this movie and bought the crap.  Even as a kid I always loved "Batman & Robin" better than "Batman Forever", mostly because this movie is completely out of its damn mind.  It was one of my favorite films as a kid.  Here is where the franchise stopped trying to make sense, or even be good, or even really make movies at all.  Director Joel Schumacher liked to yell during production:  "remember people, we're making a cartoon!"  That really set the mood here.  This is the movie where Batman and Robin surf metal doors down from an ice rocket like they're riftboarding in "Eureka Seven" - and Robin does a Cutback Drop Turn.  Mr. Freeze decides to freeze Gotham, Batman rides in a Batzamboni, there's a chase scene over giant stone biceps, this movie is one of the most ludicrous things ever put to film.  Nobody gave a crap about even the slightest attempt at making a real Batman movie, instead they just threw every wild idea at the wall, and as long as it involved lots of colors and flashing lights, it was in the movie.  So on the one hand, that makes for an actively terrible Batman movie, but it also makes for a really entertaining ride.  Its a train wreck, but an entertaining trainwreck.  Its so silly, how can you really stay mad at it?

Friday, July 6, 2012


You can't win them all, I guess.  (Sigh)

Alright, let me begin immediately by saying that "Brave" actually is a good movie.  Its an enjoyable comedy of errors with and was clearly made by people who care.  Also, its a beautiful film in both sights and sound with lots of likable characters.  "Brave" is a nice fluffy movie with a good heart, that can be enjoyed by pretty much everybody... except me.  I guess I could blame false advertising, but I pretty much pieced together the big plot twist from the trailers.  And I knew from the trailers that the tone was going to be silly (they actually picked the very worst jokes to put in the trailers).  I just sorta hoped that it was false advertising.  I expected a very different movie.  So I can't help be completely disappointed and more than a little sad that once again Pixar will not be joining by Best of the Year list.

The trailers for "Brave", especially the early ones, led to believe this was going to be some kind of epic fantasy adventure movie set in the Scottish highlands with a rebellious archer princess hero.  Princess Merida here would go on a magical quest, fight a demonic bear.  I was even wondering from the teaser trailers if Pixar was perhaps going a bit too dark for the kiddies, that maybe the movie would be too serious.  I'm not sure what the plot was in "BlueHighwind's Brave", but it definitely was not... this.  I like to imagine that the movie I wanted almost got made, which was supposed to be named "The Bear and the Bow" and directed by Brenda Chapman, who only directed one movie before this, 1998's Biblical epic, "The Prince of Egypt".  "The Prince of Egypt" is a remarkable movie because it plays the story of Exodus completely straight, without any funny cartoon animals or annoying sidekicks.  But at some point something happened during the production, Brenda Chapman left due to creative differences, and instead stepped-in Mark Andrews, a first-time director but long-time member of the Pixar crew.  Then came a change of title, a change of tone, and there's a good chance that an interesting movie got buried under something far more mediocre.  Of course, this is all speculation and we'll never know for sure.  Wouldn't be the first time the House of Mouse has done this*.  Won't be the last.  I'd like to imagine this could have been a different movie, because I wanted to watch a different movie.

"Brave" instead is a movie that really does not match the promises of its Gaelic soundtrack and amazing Scottish highland scenery.  Instead of "The Secret of Kelles" mixed with "Spirited Away", I got Freaky Friday" mixed with "The Shaggy Dog".  And no matter where you're coming from, that's a hugely diminished storyline.  It doesn't feel big enough to be worth my time.  It feels insignificant, like Pixar could be doing so much more groundbreaking stuff than something so unimpressive.  Yeah, "Brave" works for what its trying to do, but I wanted it to do something else.  There was a lot of potential here for epicness, but instead they went with probably the least epic storyline they could have imagined.  And I can't help but be terribly disappointed.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man

"The Amazing Batman" is a weird and confusing movie that completely ignores the proper Batman mythos.  It just gets everything WRONG.  Absolutely WRONG.  For some reason Batman is dressed up in a ridiculous red and blue costume, and he has super powers which he just kinda gets from a radioactive spider.  His parents aren't rich, they don't get gunned down in front of him, they only disappear, so instead Batman's adoptive father, Uncle Ben, has to get killed way later in the movie.  Batman isn't scary, he's instead flying around dressed like an idiot, not using any gadgets other than this hookshot Tarzan-vine swing web stuff.  And he's yet another awkward Hollywood teenager, as if Batman needed that.  I don't know why there's this running obsession with spiders, when the character is called BATman.  No Alfred, its New York instead of Gotham, Commissioner Gordon is totally wrong, there's no recognizable Batman villains and instead this new villain called the Lizard.  The movie was okay, and it would have been great if it were named anything but "The Amazing Batman".  How did Christopher Nolan get it so wrong??

Oh wait crap, this isn't actually a Batman movie, is it?  I've been doing Batman for so long I can't seem to let him go.

"The Amazing Spider-Man" is actually the best Spider-Man movie ever made.  And I know this is going to be a controversial call since the previous three Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies are so well-received and beloved (at least the first two are), but no, this one is by far the best. Yeah, "Spider-Man" in 2002 might have helped save Superhero movies in the public eye after "Batman and Robin" did so much ill to the genre, but still, I don't like that movie.  And I hate "Spider-Man 2", and like everybody else I really hate "Spider-Man 3".  After I saw this movie, I even tried to rewatch "Spider-Man 2" and got so annoyed with the goddamn pizza delivery and Toby Maguire whining endlessly about how being a superhero means he can't have a girlfriend.  Oh fuck you, Toby Maguire, shut the Hell up.  You're a superhero, goddamnit!  Shut up, grow some balls, fight crime, and quite whining!  Well, luckily that's what happened here, a new actor came along, Andrew Garfield, who played Peter Parker as a stronger character.

I knew coming into this movie that it would be the weakest superhero movie of the big three of 2012, the other two being "The Avengers" and "The Goddamn Dark Knight Rises".  And yeah, it is pretty clearly weaker than "The Avengers", but not by a whole lot.  The movie is somewhat bogged down by the fact that it has to tell a whole new Spider-Man origin story, when I think by now we all know the drill.  There's definitely room for improvement with "The Amazing Spider-Man", but Mark Webb's* re-imagining of the Spider-Man story seems to work far better than Sam Raimi's universe.  What really matter is that Webb got the main characters right, everything fits, especially Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy.  So altogether I'm ready for a sequel.  This is a solid superhero movie, when far too many superhero movies feel just horribly mediocre lately.

All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder

Oh God...

Frank Miller's "All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder" might have seen like a brilliant, groundbreaking storyline in Frank Miller's own head.  Yet another excellent Batman comic that would revolutionize the Batman mythos once again just as his previous "Dark Knight Returns" and "Year One" had done back in the Eighties.  However, to the rest of the human race, Frank Miller's new Batman tale appeared to be more like a nightmare, an insult, or just a plain old prank.  The fact of the matter is that nobody has the slightest clue what Frank Miller was thinking when he wrote this horrible comic, which is without a doubt the worst Batman related product ever released, and possibly the worst superhero story ever*.

DC's "All-Star" line began as a rather admirable idea, I think.  Back in the mid-2000s, DC decided that they would create a whole new series of brand new Superman, Batman, and Wonderwoman comic book series that would be out of continuity of the goddamn confusing mess that is their DC universe, so that new readers would able to get into comics without needing to memorize eight decades worth of stories, exactly how the Ultimate Marvel Universe did.  They also wanted these new stories to be written by the very best authors money could buy.  "All-Star Superman" was written by Grant Morrison... who I assume is a very good author of comics.  And "All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder" was written by Frank Miller, who was then considered an absolute genius, perhaps the most famous comic book author in the world.  Unfortunately whatever genius Frank Miller had rolling around up there seems to have been replaced with total madness and "All-Star Batman" was a total disaster.  Worse for the All-Star line, their other two projects, "All-Star Wonderwoman" and "All-Star Batgirl" never got made at all, so I guess we could say that this entire ambitious project was a failure.  "All-Star Superman" apparently is really really good, and I might have to read it one day, but its success was balanced out by the vile terribleness of "All-Star Batman".

I feel almost ill-equipped to review "All-Star Batman and Robin" because like the rest of the world, I have no idea where Frank Miller was coming from writing this story.  The story is so bad on so many levels, and is fact downright disturbing, that you almost can't believe that Frank Miller is playing this straight.  You cannot believe that he actually thinks what he's writing is effective storytelling.  Is this whole comic written by the Joker?  That's really the only explanation, Frank Miller is the Joker.  Its a comic where everybody is insane, where Batman talks like a seventh grader, where Frank Miller gleefully mocks a great deal of superhero mythos, and where the fanservice is so blatant and shameless that I'm surprised this isn't anime.  And then, ten issues later of atrocious dialog and cringeworthy plot points, it all just ends, with no resolution.  The comic was never finished, its last issue came out four years ago.  The story barely reaches its second act.  And maybe, that's for the best.  For it just to end.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Batman: The Long Halloween

I suppose I'm deviating from the Batman Movie Batdown plan just the slightest bit.  Its occurred to me that Batman actually is slightly more than just the movies that have appeared in cinemas, he actually does appear in comic books every so often.  In fact, some comic books that are rather good.  At some point during this Batman adventure I went completely mad and started becoming more than a little obsessed with the Caped Crusader.  Which may be a problem after the 20th when I have to return to normalcy, but until then, I'll breath Batman air, drink Batman water, and run around everywhere talking in the Batman voice.

In 1987 Frank Miller wrote the fantastic comic, "Batman: Year One", which detailed how Batman and Jim Gordon came together to fight the rotting urban slime that was Gotham's underground.  "Year One" was a huge success that masterfully defined the Batman even more than Miller's previous smash hit, "The Dark Knight Returns".  And as with all things, "Year One" needed a sequel.  Unfortunately, this being the world of comic books, there are now approximately fifty seven different sequels* all made by different writers, artists, and in varied styles, tones, and ultimate success.  "The Long Halloween" is just one sequel - the best sequel - written by Jeph Loeb with art by Tim Sale.  Now usually I wouldn't review a comic book ever unless it was either one of the greatest things ever written or one of the very worst, something so amazing that I believe that my little slice of the Internet needs to tell its readers about it, so "The Long Halloween" immediately is that good to pass that standard.  Its just that special that I cannot ignore it.  And neither could Master Christopher Nolan, who used this comic along with "Year One" and some other comic book called "The Man Who Falls" as his primary inspiration for "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight".

"Batman: The Long Halloween" tells the story of Batman's second year fighting crime, where he has teamed up with Commissioner Gordon and DA Harvey Dent for a full-on assault against the Falconi Crime Family.  This is an incredibly dangerous assignment since Carmine "The Roman" Falconi rules Gotham City and is virtually untouchable.  Somebody, however, has found a way to make Falconi touchable - by murdering members of his crime family with a .22 caliber pistol on every major holiday.  This criminal, known as "Holiday" takes the city by storm, because nobody knows who or what he is, or why he's after Falconi.  "The Long Halloween" essentially is Batman's war on traditional crime, a war he wins, but not without casualties (I think you can guess who falls to the Dark Side here).  Worse still, a new class of criminal is beginning to rise in Gotham City, the Freaks.  All in all, "The Long Halloween" is an excellent Batman story, perhaps the best one I've ever read/seen/experienced with fantastic artwork, a great detective mystery plotline, and an all around beautiful set-up for Batman's endless crusade against the forces of evil.  This is the best Western comic book I've ever read in my life...

...and I've only read about ten altogether, so take of that what you will.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

FFWiki Let's Play Incoming

So people of my blog, your dear master of ceremonies, Blue Highwind here will be contributing to the FFWiki's most interesting project yet:  a Let's Play of "Final Fantasy VI", the least controversial game in the Final Fantasy series - because everybody loves it.  In the next few weeks the project master, ScatheMote will be posting the vids to Youtube of our work.  In the interests of egalitarianism, I won't actually be commentating on every link, we're working in randomized shifts.  So even though I will only be in about a quarter of the videos, you'll get to hear the lovely voices and opinions of the entire FFWiki upper echelon of characters, lunatics, and assorted undesirables.  I, of course, am the most undesirable of them all but even so this is a very exciting project for me personally.

Also, for most of you dear readers this will be the very first you've ever heard my voice.  So I'll soon be breaking whatever illusions you may have of what I sound like as I chill with my buddies from all around the world.

I've been meaning to do a Let's Play of some kind for years now.  And this really is something of a dream come true.  I can soon cross this off my bucket list.  But personally, I'm hoping this is not my last LP.  And I'm hoping this is not the last project the FFWiki creates together.  Hopefully I can host one myself one day.  So far we've only competing the very first few hours, but already its very cool stuff.  I'll be posting all the links here on this blog around the same time they've posted on Youtube and on the FFWiki.  Stay tuned.

UPDATE:  The very first video of the LP is up already.  ScatheMote is going to add two videos every week, approximately.  I also got to hear the first cut of my video (which will be up in two weeks) and it turns out I did a terrible job of recording my voice.  >_<  But this first hour of video sounds fine.