Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Million* Ways to Die in the West

"A Million Ways to Die in the West" is a strange kind of animal.  It feels like a nice earnest comedy paying tribute to old Westerns,  somehow trapped within a vulgar late-season "Family Guy" episode mercilessly mocking anything it can get its hands on.  It's what happens if you mate "Blazing Saddles" with "Scary Movie".  Only about half of this movie actually works, therefore, and it is usually the lighter friendlier jokes.  I found myself watching what felt like was two movies all at once.  One of those movies I am fully willing to recommend... and as for the the other one, I'm ashamed to even be discussing it on this blog.

When "A Million Ways to Die in the West" is working, it has a charming leading man in its director/producer/co-writer, Seth MacFarlane, creator of "Family Guy" and the feature film, "Ted", a very successful raunchy comedy from 2012.  He plays Albert Stark, a sheep herder disillusioned with the violent world of the Old West.  He's got great chemistry with his co-star, Charlize Theron, played Anna, a new visitor to Stark's town.  MacFarlane may not be the world's most natural actor - he is forced to rely upon staging his scenes like stand-up routines for the most part, mostly giving monologues to the other characters.  But this character works well when just being a nerdy rancher completely out of his depth in this cliche town.  The core of the movie is solid.

...Then it's all spoiled when the "Family Guy"-style humor creeps in.  Gags are recycled without mercy, some of the worst jokes in the film are given the most time, such as shameless reference to "Back to the Future 3", and worst of all, terrible toilet humor cuts in.  You have MacFarlane making a pretty funny and natural sounding riff about "a full load", which gets believable laughter from his co-star, and then suddenly a scene later we got sheep dick.  Big sheep hard-ons pissing on the actor's face.  Thanks, MacFarlane.  Do you have any idea how awful I feel having to write about the reproductive systems of livestock?  And that's not the only sheep dick scene, there are two.  One actor takes a runny shit into a ten-gallon hat, and then goes right on to take another shit in another man's hat.  What happened to the charming Western parody I enjoyed?  Gone, literally replaced by shit.  The movie is still generally a positive experience, but how can I justify this?  How can anybody?

Friday, May 30, 2014


Not one Keyblade anywhere.

"Maleficent" is a re-imagining of Disney's classic 1959 fairy tale epic, "Sleeping Beauty"..  Broadly the idea is to transform Disney's most iconic villain, Maleficent, into a "Wicked"-style anti-hero.  So this movie reveals Maleficent's backstory, motivation, and love life, proving that she is not merely a cackling witch with an icy voice, but a misunderstood woman driven to revenge, but never losing her pure soul.  She's far more complex, with motivations both positive and negative all across the movie, to the point she's a character often at war with herself.  All of this revisionism is expertly played by Angelina Jolie, who manages to capture the late Eleanor Audley's original iconic voice and mannerisms*, while giving the character a fragility and timidness mixed with the proud anti-villain persona.

And so, Maleficent, as a character, was ruined.  This is a movie that simply does not get it.  "Sleeping Beauty" is probably as simplistic of a storyline as classic Disney ever did, featuring a villain who really had no motivations other than to be evil.  Maleficent had a great costume, a great voice, massive charisma, and was a legendary awesome villainess merely by being evil.  Creating a backstory - especially one as rote and uninteresting as this - only diminishes the character.  People already love Maleficent, they already root for her in the original, where she is by far the most impressive and memorable character.  This modern version is built up to something much more confusing, as the title character floats back and forth between good and evil, thanks to an underwhelming script and bizarre story choices.  New Maleficent looks the part, and when Jolie is tasked to play the Mistress of All Evil that we know and love, it is absolutely fantastic.  But otherwise we're left with something so much less than what we had.  The Wicked Witch was able to Defy Gravity when she was turned into an antihero, Maleficent gets her wings literally plucked.

Angelina Jolie is by far the best part of this film, and even her role does not work.  The rest of the movie unfortunately is unable to hold up even this.  "Sleeping Beauty" already was one of Disney's more flawed Princess tales, thanks to flat characters and pacing problems.  It is such a shame considering how gorgeous "Sleeping Beauty" was and still is - to this day it is Disney's prettiest animated film.  "Maleficent" keeps up that tradition of visuals over substance, unfortunately not by using the most breathtaking animation quality ever attempted in history, but by pouring CG all over the place.  Since this is a fantasy blockbuster made in the 21st century, there is of course stupid bloated battle scenes, lots of flying creatures and cartoony-worlds made to look dazzling, but instead looking forgettable.  "Avatar" was four years ago, nobody is falling for CG forests anymore, Hollywood.  Combine that with a bad story and characters perhaps even more flat and uninteresting than they were back in 1959, and you end with a movie blaring meticulously animated landscapes full of whimsey and magic, all failing before a disinterested crowd who will begin checking their watches within five minutes.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Freelancin': Jodorowsky's Dune and Dear Mr. Watterson

New post!  Finally!  I haven't forgotten this blog after all!

This week's Freelancin' is about two documentaries from 2013, "Jodorowsky's Dune", about the greatest film never made, and "Dear Mr. Watterson", the greatest comic strip ever made.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past

For the past fifteen years X-Men movies have been coming to the box office.  Somehow though, it seems to me that something has never quite clicked with the general public and X-Men.  Several of the movies were quite good, such as "X-Men 2"* and 2012's "X-Men: First Class", but neither of those movies were major events, they never became legends in their own right.  These days with huge blockbusters literally coming out every week, it is harder and harder to really make a pop culture statement with just a superhero film, but X-Men especially seems to have trouble.  Fox can still rely on these X-Men films as a nice predictable source of regular income, but it seems no matter what they do, X-Men never becomes the pop culture sensation of the Nolan Batman films or Marvel's Cinematic Universe.  Tragically, the entire saga, despite some very spirited performances from several great actors, everything ends up in some grand pile of forgettable entertainment.

The reasons for this are varied.  Primarily the issue is that none of these X-Men films have really ever deserved to be memorable, they've always been Fox's "good enough" franchise to do what all movies should do, make money and entertain audiences.  There have been the missteps**, such as "X-Men" and the appallingly bad "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" - which has been made 100% non-canon by this production, thankfully.  "Good enough" and "that will do" is the main artistic driver of this franchise, which is not the attitude which will bring you classics.  The real issue, I think, is that whatever charm the comic version of the X-Men have, it is not making its way onto the big screen.  There's this utterly shameless pulpy fun feel to the comics, which the films are far too self-conscious to follow up on.  There's just not enough color here, in any of them (besides notably "First Class") to actually reach the point of tasty fattening cheese which comic book fans have enjoyed for decades.

I cannot say "X-Men: Days of Future Past" completely solves that tone problem.  However, it is very good, in fact, it may be the best X-Men film of them all.  On the surface, the plot of the movie seems like a typically comic book-y storyline:  to use a form of narrative nonsense (in this case, time travel) to retcon and re-order the universe to undo the various mistakes and mulligan's Fox's incredibly messy X-Men series has piled up.  The movie has no purpose really other than to put pieces back on the board that were sacrificed too early.  (Read:  no more "X-Men 3".)  However, it manages to pull off that completely cynical space-filling movie and turn into an extremely high-quality experience.  It is a direct sequel to "X-Men: First Class", meaning the fantastic performances of Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy can be combined with Hugh Jackman's Wolverine and their future counterparts, Sirs Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, making "Future Past" a kind of 'greatest hits' of X-Men actors.  You have solid emotional drama as the great patriarchs of the X-Men universe undergo a difficult emotional adolescence... while of course fighting evil government robots on wacky sets.  For the third time in a month, I have been completely wrong, and I could not be more glad for it, "X-Men: Days of Back to the Future Past" is a wonderful movie, celebrating all fifteen years of X-Men lore while doing a fine job sorting out and removing its worst parts.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Freelancin': Godzilla vs. BlueHighwind

Depressed over the mediocrity of the recent Gareth Edwards Godzilla film, BlueHighwind looks back at the seven greatest Godzilla films of all time.

For those too morally impure to actually listen to all forty minutes of kinda podcast, the list is:

7. Godzilla Final Wars
6. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla
5. Godzilla (1998)
4. Godzilla 2000
3. Godzilla 1985
2. Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah:  Giant Monsters All-Out Attack
1. Gojira (1954)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Interstellar Trailer

Master Christopher Nolan sends Matthew McConaughey to space.  This trailer aired just before "Godzilla" on Thursday night, and it was regrettably the best part of that movie.

On a dying Earth - that still has picturesque Midwestern farms, albeit ones on fire - Matthew McConaughey must go to space to begin the next stage in humanity's future.  Christopher Nolan is not creating a silly disaster movie such as "The Core" and "Sunshine" where the characters simply have to flip a switch and save our pretty little orb, this is humanity plotting to escape our little sphere for our own survival.  Which is a much bolder SciFi concept than pretty much anything else that would get made for several hundred million dollars.  It looks quite good.  There also appears to be some business with wormholes and time travel, or something.  Anyway, we'll see how well "Gravity"'s coattails can be ridden and whether time really is a flat circle this Fall.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Godzilla (2014)

Godzilla is the coolest creature to every walk the face of cinema.  For thirty movies now, the King of the Monsters has fought proudly for audiences around the world, battling weird aliens, giant bugs, and Matthew Broderick.  The big green radioactive beast has smashed cities for fun, saved the world from cockroaches from beyond the stars, and warred with King Kong for supremacy of the giant monster realm.  He has been a dark consequence of the nuclear age, a dancing champion for the children of the 1970s, and a living incarnation of nature itself, smashing mankind's hubris.  This creature is our punishment for our arrogance, nature's revenge for the sin of atomic bombs.  Or maybe he's just a big silly monster out for a fun brawl against any of his iconic pantheon of monsters, both friend or foe.  This was a monster with his own character, his own awesome presence.  Truly a classic icon.

Gareth Edwards'* "Godzilla" is a movie that completely misses the point of a Godzilla film.  Godzilla has been many things for many ages, but one thing he has never been - at least not until 2014 - is boring.  Edwards creates a depressing miserable experience, one which repeats the greatest cardinal sin of Michael Bay's "Transformers" movies:  it forgot to be a movie about the magnificent giants of the source material, and instead focuses on boring humans.  Lacking either the pulpy SciFi silliness of the classic Japanese film series, or the wacky tone of the messy 1998 Roland Emmerich adaptation, Gareth Edwards makes a movie that is painfully dreary, with no sense of fun, and barely any Godzilla.  He wants to conjure up the cataclysmic terror of the 1954 original, "Gojira", but fails even at this, as the mediocre characterization of the humans and terrible pacing makes this movie a battle of patience.  How does a movie manage to pre-occupy itself with the human perspective, when it cannot even care for a minute to make that human perspective interesting?

Rather than playing to the strengths of the Kaiju genre, this Legendary Pictures reboot Americanizes the creature in a disaster movie, just as the 1998 TriStar attempted.  And still following the 1998 version, this Godzilla is a computer-generated monster, thus losing the charm and personality of the Japanese style of human actors playing the characters within suits on miniature model city battlefields.  As a typical disaster movie, most of the plot involves a White Dude working his way through the wreckage to save his family, which unfortunately massively overshadows the titular monster.  Edwards becomes so wrapped up in his dull human characters that "Godzilla" often makes the horrific decision to cut away from battle scenes to show more homo sapiens.  The human actors constantly interfere with the battle, never letting the creatures just have their time in the spotlight.  "Godzilla" is a movie too wrapped up in its own dreariness to ever let go and be fun.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return

For months now, a specter has haunted the halls of my local movie theater.  In dark ignored corner it sat, menacingly beckoning to all foolish enough to look upon it.  Most visitors simply shook their head in confusion, unsure of what to make of the specter.  They might have laughed it off, but they could not laugh off the chill it gave them within their hearts.  It was a simple sign with a simple design, foretelling the coming of a movie, the same as dozens of other advertisements decorating the cheap cinema wings.  But this was no regular movie.  It was a movie from beyond the dimension of major motion pictures, a demon from the Stygian abyss of movie-making.  A cheap bargain basement release that belonged only in the deepest and most forgettable of the Redbox phantasmagoria.  But instead this movie was here, its sign fluttering with sacrilegious pride in the same structure that was showing "Frozen".  Now many months later, the vision of horror has come to pass.

"Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return" is a film that - to put it simply - has no business being in a theater.  I know that comes off a bit snobby, but when you actually look at the jerky, frenetic standard of animation that "Legends of Oz" is trying to pass off as feature film-quality, it is impossible to not feel this is a movie that shouldn't have been made.  Or if it was made at all, it should have been quietly pushed out in some bargain shelf at a 7/11.  Of course, that this movie is a half-formed failure should come as no surprise since this is animated by Prana Studios, a bargain-bin animation studio whose credits include such classics as "Space Chimps 2: Zartog Strikes Back".  "Legends of Oz" is produced by Summertime Studios and distributed by Clarius Entertainment, and is the first film made by either of these companies.  It starts to make you suspicious about the entire project.  Amazingly cheap film with barely any advertising gets massive release, sketchy companies footing the bill, apparently supplying a seventy million budget behind this turkey.  Anybody else starting to smell a scam here?  I don't think this was a movie seriously made to entertain movie-going audiences.  What "Producers"-style scheme or illegal dump-and-dump market manipulation is really making this movie?  We may never know the real truth.

Ultimately though we must pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, because whatever is really going on, we can look only at the finished product.  "Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return" is easily one of the worst films of 2014 so far, it is that simple.  Its animation borders between merely mediocre to downright terrifying as semi-human faces twist and turn from whimsical cartoon to grotesquery.  The plot is a weak excuse for Dorothy to wander around from song to song, collecting various fools on her journey to defeat a villain badly overplayed by Martin Short.  It is hard to say which is more shrill:  the music or the characters.  At best "Dorothy's Return" is a film that could only be appreciated by the smallest of children, and even they will be more excited by the thrill of a bag of popcorn than the entertainment being projected on the screen.  At worst, it is a downright travesty of a film, weak by any standard, but downright embarrassing considering the wealth of beautiful and creative animated films it is trying to compete against.  I hope whoever is scamming their investors got their money's worth, because this movie is so bad it is criminal.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Freelancin': Topher Grace Fan Edit of the Star Wars Prequels

New Freelancin', now starring the new BH.

Topher Grace (somehow, I'm not 100% what his connection is) inspired a new Fan Edit of the Star Wars Prequels, turning them from three horrible movies into just one extra long horrible movie. Will this finally solve all of the horrible problems within the Star Wars Prequels?  Or will it just be incredibly, slow, sad, and unwatchable, just like all the other Star Wars films made after 1983?

Monday, May 12, 2014


"Fate/Zero" (or alternatively "Fate Xero" if the logo is to be believed) is the 2011 prequel to the fantastically popular "Fate/Stay Night" franchise, which is a visual novel, an anime series, and a manga.  Unfortunately I never watched or read "Fate/Stay Night" because I find light novels gross.  When a genre is usually associated with mildly pornographic harem stories or creepy relations with little sisters, that's enough for me to make a conscious effort to avoid it entirely.  Luckily "Fate/Zero" has nothing to do with incest, rather it is a complex character-driven story with an original concept, and a fantastic anime.  Now why am I reviewing this show in May 2014?  Because I only watched it last week (it just  came to Netflix last month) - and because a new version of "Fate/Stay Night" is coming out to Japanese television later this year, so I have the barest justification of relevance!  Score one for BH!

The plot of "Fate Divided by Zero"* takes place in an alternate 1990s, where magic is real and all legendary heroes of epics and folk tales actually existed with all of their fantastical powers.  The set up is actual an incredibly simple battle to the death, a la "Highlander", where seven wizard Masters summon seven great warriors from the past to do battle as their Servants.  The surviving wizard gets the Holy Grail (no relation to the Cup of Christ), a magical artifact that is said to grant the winner of the War any wish.  The rules are simple:  each Master gets three Commands they can issue to their legendary Servants, when all other Servants are defeated the Holy Grail appears, and whoever grabs it gets their wishes granted.  Beyond that, there are no rules.  You can assassinate other masters with high-powered sniper rounds, your Servant can double-cross you if you displease them, even Cthulhu can show up if you know the right spells.

Of course, things are not quite so simple once you realize the plotline is essentially fourteen characters all battling for one prize.  It grows more complicated when the Servants often turn out to be radically different than your expectations.  King Arthur, for example, is pictured there.  Yeah, he was actually a blond teenaged anime girl**, for fanservice reasons.  Gilgamesh, the king of Uruk, is an arrogant golden God with unlimited power whose only real goal is watching the other the other opponents squirm.  If he actually cared for a moment he would have won the war in four seconds.  Alexander the Great (known by his Persian name of "Iskandar") is a giant of a man with a beard, but rather than a egotistical conqueror, he's the nicest man you will ever meet, with no goal other than to make friends - and the conquer the universe with them.  And as for Gilles de Rais, notorious medieval serial killer... he's about the same, actually.  The characters go from a spectrum of absolutely evil but weirdly sympathetic, to honorable and pure but clearly foolish.  It is a great battle between the entire gray spectrum of morality, with twists, turns, and again, a special appearance by Cthulhu.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

New Logo, New Me!

Old Me.  2008 - 2014.
For years the online persona known as Blue Highwind has been represented by a little photoshopped image from "Final Fantasy III DS"*, originally drawn by Akihiko Yoshida.  I loved that little creation as the little Luneth Dragoon with some color correction was everything BH needed to be.  I like FFIII, Luneth was my favorite character there, and Dragoon was my favorite class.  But now thanks to my dear friend TacticAngel, admin on the Final Fantasy Wiki, and wiz with art stuff, things have changed.  He's drawn a fantastic new form for me, because he is very good at drawing, and I am merely average.  He is also fantastic at coloring and I am brutally terrible.  More impressively, he got these professional quality images done in a single night, all without pay!  Because he's that awesome.

And we also have a brand new logo!  With a floating space monkey on it!  That's you by the way, you're Space Monkeys.  You float though space oblivious to all, having no connection to civilization beyond my own magnificent blog posts or Youtube rants or if you're into the classics, my FFWiki Walkthroughs.  ...Or well, that's what seventeen-year-old would say back when I lost most of my connection to reality and became a prisoner on these wonderful interwebs.  Modern me is more modest and possibly more mature, but you're still Space Monkeys, and you better press what buttons I order you to, or no bananas!

Anyway, here's the old logo.  Old Planet Blue Logo:  2009 - 2014.  You will be missed:

And after the break, I have a small gallery of TacticAngel's absolutely brilliant, magnificent, and completely hyberolic work.  Thank you so much, dude!  (He was also one of the best commentators on that Final Fantasy VIII Let's Play I did last year.)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire Announcement Tralier

So this happened:

Amazingly vague, no gameplay, but there are covers!  Because that's what I want to see when I see a game trailer, is a cover.  Apparently this is a new dimension of gameplay or something, it is all very vague.  Is it finally a remake of Hoenn?  Will there be trumpets?  And that was the gen with the space port!  CAN WE GO TO SPACE?  IWANNAGOTOSPACEIWANNAGOTOSPACE!!!  PLEASEPLEASEPLEASE!!

More importantly, this finally means I can have my favorite Pokemon, Milotic, in Gen VI.  YAY!

Coming November 2014.  (Can I have my check now, Nintendo?)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

So this is particularly annoying to me.  I had nothing but bad feelings about "The Amazing Spider-Man 2".  I listened to the critics and the Spider-Man fanboys who warned me about Sony, about how the film was going to be nothing but a soulless production to force out too many villains, too much plot, and open the floodgates to an endless swam of mediocre Sony-brand Spider-Man films.  I walked in expecting a new "Spider-Man 3", an unholy mess of studio-interference and half-baked concepts, which would prove all of the huge holes and bad filmmaking "The Amazing Spider-Man 1" managed to somehow hide, because that's what the critics warned me and that's what comic book fans were foretelling.  Because these were the same people who managed to convince me that movie was merely mediocre.  This was one of those movies that I drove to bitterly and alone, with my negative damning review already half-written in my head.  Then I saw it.

Sony, how dare you make a good goddamn movie!  You've made a fool out of me!  This is the biggest upset I've suffered since "Men in Black 3", another summer film that indignantly chose to be very good.  You had no right to be good, "Amazing Spider-Man 2!  So if I've learned anything from this experience, it is this:  don't listen to people.  Especially comic book people, they know nothing.  "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" is a lot of fun, a big messy two hour experience of sight, sound, respectfully developed characters, and great action combined with great romantic chemistry.  And unfortunately I cannot stay angry at it for proving me wrong - even though it is completely in my rights to be furious - because it is really good, and thanks to director Marc Webb and soulless Sony syndicate, I saw a really good movie.

So now that I have proven myself to be a complete fool with no free will who knows nothing, let me somehow use this useless brain of mine to explain why "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" is amazing, if not the best Spider-Man film ever made.  The answer is simple:  it might be bloated, it might be trying to do too many things at once, but "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" is the first film out of the five to make Spider-Man seem cool.  It is not just the gorgeous actions scenes, or Spider-Man's wisecracks, or that Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker is a refreshingly confident figure compared to Tobey McGuire and Sam Raimi's dweeby pathetic hero of the early 2000s.  This Spider-Man is a friend to everybody, especially the children, he's a living person able to get over his complications and live a real life without obsessing over some old uncle.  This is the kind of character growth I've always wanted Batman to have, but which comic books would never allow him.  Maybe all this is too different for the Spider-Man fans to deal with, and this movie definitely overreached.  But it overreached in the best way, making a fun Blockbuster that I thoroughly enjoyed despite myself.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Only Lovers Left Alive

"Only Lovers Left Alive" is a drama film about two old souls staring bitterly at modern civilization, quietly searching for their place in a changing world.  It is also an arthouse film about vampires.  Directed by veteran artsy auteur Jim Jarmusch, creator of such films as "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai" and cultivator of one of most bizarre haircuts in modern Hollywood, "Only Lovers Left Alive" is a movie more about the philosophical exhaustion of immortality, rather than the exploitative fangoria that has dominated vampire cinema for decades.  Originally this movie was screened at last year's Cannes Film Festival, where it lost the Palme d'Or to "Blue is the Warmest Color", but it just got a limited US release last month.  The two leads, an undead married couple, Adam and Eve, played by Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston, are not monsters, they're well-read, extremely artistic, and connoisseurs of human genius, using Einstein's theories as bedtime stories.

Despite the age difference of the actors - Swinton is a full twenty-one years older than her younger co-star - Hiddleston and Swinton make for a believable couple.  The brilliance of their acting is the core of the entire movie.  Hiddleston is showing a lot of range here, this is a far cry from the arrogant comedy of his supervillain, Loki.  Visually Jarmusch turns them into opposites of each other.  Adam's black hair and black suit* matches his dreary view of the world, while Eve has platinum hair the same pale color as her skin skin and white clothing, which alludes to her relative optimism.  Most of the film is a long argument between these two immortal watchers of humanity about the worth of our species, who Adam dismissively calls "zombies".

"Only Lovers Left Alive" is essentially a movie without a plot.  There is no great threat pushing down upon Adam and Eve, beyond only the passage of time.  Perhaps there is the red-herring or two that could signify a plot beginning, but it never emerges as a fully formed danger.  Off in the distance there are fans of Adam's music - a kind of shrill mixture of modern rock and 18th century funeral music - who are slowly hunting down his home.  Blood is becoming increasingly difficult for vampires to drink since modern humans are filled with a complex chemistry of drugs and chemicals.  But most of the film is simply Hiddleston and Swinton either hanging within their moldy nests or driving around the quiet wilderness that is post-urban Michigan.  There is this sad sense that these characters may have reached the end of their time here, which in turn, is foreboding for the fate of the human race.  And ultimately, this is enough for the movie to work, it doesn't actually need a villain.  "Only Lovers Left Alive" is a mournful, soulful film, one that moves with its own quiet speed as it explores the lives of two fascinating people with fangs.  It is one of the best movies of 2014 so far.

Friday, May 2, 2014

May 2014 Look-Ahead

May I muse on the month of May?  May is the motherly monarch of the months, a magnetic monopoly of Mitzah morality. Merely mentioning the month of May memorizes mortal men in mad merriment for melodic music on metronomes.  Myriad magpies in milky marigolds make May mumble on top of maple mahogany.  May is much more than Magnesium Mujaheddin militarism massing mechanized monstrosities.  Maybe May is multiple mudslingers muckraking malevolently in malfunctioning malfeasance, but May is mostly microscopic macrocosms, millennium millimeters, and mystical mathematics.  Mention also, I must, is the misbegotten maggots mellowing in menstruating malnourished murky mucus that make the middle of May's midmonth moribund.  May I muse on the month of May?

Let us look ahead a the movies and video games which are coming out in May 2014:

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (May 2nd) - Spider-Man returns for his fifth movie, but only his second amazing movie, apparently.  May this year is completely stuffed with Blockbusters, with every week having its own huge release.  And we do not start small, since "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" is seemingly the vanguard for all of Sony's hopes and dreams for the next century.  Every goddamn visit to the movies for seemingly a decade has had a trailer for this movie, I am so sick of looking at Spider-Man's red and blue uniform.  The movie itself seems to be skipping straight to "Spider-Men 3"'s mistake of too many villains, with three bad guys to fight.  It will be a mess.  All of this is going to set up Sony's answer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with "The Amazing Spider-Man 3", "The Sinister Six", and a "Venom" movie all coming out in the next few years.  So eventually there won't even be regular movies, everything will just be a superhero film.  Could this please be a flop so that particular dark future does not come to pass?
-- Chances to be Good:  60%.  I liked the first "Amazing Spider-Man" but I cannot remember for the life of me if Dennis Leahry died at the end or not.

Belle (May 2nd) - Perhaps the stuffiest film of 2014 yet, "Belle" is an English drama film about an upper class British family raising an illegitimate Black child as one of their own, and the social wackiness that ensues.  It is based upon the real case of Dido Elizabeth Belle, a gentlewoman of African descent that lived in an abolitionist family in England during the 18th and 19th centuries.  And that's really all there is to say about that.
-- Chances to be Good:  61%.  Tom Wilkinson is in it, there is that.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

What I've Been Reading: Rainy Season, 2014

The theme for this month is comedy and horror.  One of the books I read is a tale of two young men discovering the edges of reality, and realizing their world is nothing more than bubble surrounded by an insane universe of darkness.  It is hysterically funny.  Another book takes place during the darkest period of human history, the second World War, where the entire planet erupted into violence and savagery.  But that story has its own subtle sarcastic tone.  Then there's a story about a clown running around, just trying to impress an old friend with increasingly elaborate gags.  That's a grotesque nightmare.  We have horror transforming into comedy, and comedies transforming into horror.   The face of things cannot be trusted.  All you have to do it cut off the facade, and see what's really lying under the skin, to find the truth.

Batman: Death of the Family by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV

"Batman: Death of the Family" is the latest trade paperback collection of the New 52 series of DC mainstream coninuity comic books from its "Batman" comic series.  Confusingly this is not the only comic book featuring Batman, as there is also "Detective Comics", "Batman: The Dark Knight", and "Batman Incorporated", which are four redundant titles all starring Batman.  But if you think that's a bit much, there's also "Batman and Robin", yet another Batman series, but this one featuring Batman's newest Robin, his son, Damian Wayne.  Oh and Batman is also in the Justice League, so there's all of those comics too.  And beyond that, Batman's various allies get their own comic books, such as "Nightwing", "Batgirl" (who is also in "Birds of Prey"), "Batwoman", "Batwing", and "Red Hood and the Outlaws".  This book collects five issues of the presumably main Batman storyline, which you would think would be enough to tell a full tale.  However, because all thirty-five other Batman comic books had to have their own tie-ins to sucker fans into buying them all, this means the trade paperback I read held only a fraction of the full "Death of the Family" arc.  Some of those tie-ins might have been important, some might have just created huge plotholes, and others were certainly giant wastes of time shoveled out to sell more comics.

And then I sometimes wonder if I'm being too harsh on comic book fans when I tell them their favorite medium is a goddamn mess.  Unfortunately every time I try to get into the main continuity of a superhero comic, I'm met by this huge wall of tie-ins, references, cameo appearances by characters from another series who are never explained, and then a bigger wall of continuity and prior history, which ironically the New 52 series was supposed to fix.  Luckily though, "Death of the Family" is a garbage series anyway, so if you choose to skip all of this nonsense, you're really not missing much.