Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is the latest cinematic child of world-famous author, J.K. Rowling.  Best known for her Harry Potter books, Fantastic Beasts is set in that same world, but seventy years before the events of the Potter books and across the ocean, in New York City.
I wanted to like this movie a lot more than I did. Although not a Potterhead, I did enjoy most of the Potter films.  Fantastic Beasts? Not so much.
The cast is talented. The settings are lavish. The creature effects are really quite wonderful. However, the story is not so great. The first sign that things are amiss is the opening; there's no buildup. The viewer is simply dumped into the story, which proceeds to move along in a jerky, disjointed manner.  There's no real character development and we can spot the big bad coming from a mile away.
The film isn't bad, it's just not that great. And it is obviously meant to set things up for the rest of the franchise series.
Bearing all that in mind, I have to give Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them only 2 stars out of five.  It's matinee worthy, but, really, you should just wait for it to come out on video.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Death of X and the Decline of Marvel Comics

Cover from Death of X #4

The following post will contain spoilers for Death of X. Read on at your peril!

I called it.
I totally called it.
Cyclops was dead at the start of this whole fiasco. Emma Frost was the person behind it all, maintaining and projecting a psychic image of Cyclops into the minds of his friends and allies.
It was entirely predictable.
And that, my friends, is the reason 99% of Marvel Comics suck so hard these days. 
They are predictable. Nothing is truly shocking. None of their 'events' have any lasting consequences. 
Granted, I am somewhat jaded. I've been reading comics since before Jean Grey died the first time. So it's going to be pretty hard for the so-called House of Ideas to surprise me.
That's not to say they haven't produced some interesting content over the last few years. The recent Vision miniseries was excellent, for the most part. 
But the X-Men books suck. If you believe the hype, that's deliberate. Part of a convoluted plan on the part of Marvel/Disney to make the characters unappealing to the fanbase, so they won't go and watch the Fox movies.  
Yeah, and if you believe that I've got this swell bridge in Brooklyn I can sell you!
If Marvel/Disney wanted to shut down the X-books, they would just do it. The x-books make money, but let's be honest, Disney is using Marvel as an idea farm. They can make more off a shitty movie with toy tie-ins than they can from the actual books that Marvel produces.  If they really wanted to make a profit, they would just shut down Marvel Comics altogether and maintain copyrights and trademarks by reprinting graphic novels ad nauseum while saturating the hell out of the toy/collectibles market.
But instead, they keep producing comics. And the comics they produce are, generally, of poor quality. The stories are rehashed. (Civil War II, anyone?) Character are recycled, often recast as a different gender/ethnicity/sexuality, etc. ( see Ms. Marvel, Thor, the Sam Wilson Captain America, Captain Marvel, etc.).
It is a glorious soap opera gone horribly, horribly wrong.
And nothing exemplifies this more than the Death of X mini-series.  This four-part series was meant to reveal what Cyclops did that polarized the world to such an extent, making mutants feared and hated more than ever.  It was meant to reveal how he died and the fate of Emma Frost.
It tried to do that, but in the most hackneyed, shitty-as-possible way that they could.  It is the mini-series equivalent, almost, to the infamous dream sequence in Dallas, where viewers discovered that the last few seasons of a t.v. show were, in fact, nothing but a bad dream.
Only the creators didn't even do that. Instead, we got Cyclops dying from M-Pox and Emma Frost keeping his death a secret, creating a psychic projection of Cyclops and using it to puppet the X-Men into a war with the Inhumans. It lacked drama and pathos, and, ultimately, felt cheap and tawdry, a $20 whore decked out in designer glad-rags,but still crawling with syphilis.
For shame, Marvel! For same!
The fans deserve so much more.

Monday, November 21, 2016


Good afternoon, gentle readers!
As I'm writing this, the sun is pouring through my bedroom window and I have a load of laundry going in the washing machine. The combination of the two, plus the addition of a softly purring laptop, makes me feel incredibly homey.
The only thing missing is the smell of apple pie drifting up from the kitchen.
But there will be time for apple pie later this week.
Yes, it's THAT time of year again. Thanksgiving.  That time of the year when Americans, like moi, gather with friends and family around the dinner table and pretty much eat ourselves into oblivion. Turkey and ham are traditional fare. Stuffing and cranberry sauce are practically de rigeur. Then there are the vegetables: mashed potatoes, baked beans, corn-on-the-cob, peas, perhaps a nice salad. Finally, there is the desert. Or deserts, in some cases. Pie is probably more traditional than cake, but I've known people who serve ice cream sundaes or homemade peanut butter milkshakes. Desert is where you can go a bit nuts.
Yes, that's the traditional Thanksgiving Day feast.
I grew up eating big dinners like that with my parents, grandparents and cousins.
These days?
It's just me.
I have pizza.
Pizza with a bit of garlic bread on the side and a glass of rum & coke.
Thanksgiving, now that I think about it, is the one holiday, aside from New Year's Eve, when I usually have a drink.
Sometimes, I might have a slice of apple pie or a bit of carrot cake.
But that's it.
Thanksgiving, for me, is not a holiday of excess. I call my family, post something nice on social media to my followers, and then eat pizza while watching bad movies.  I don't even watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade any more.
Don't get me wrong. I enjoy the holiday. I think it's nice to get together with the people you love. But you shouldn't need a holiday to do it.
And, really, these days, I'm not a big eater.  I might even forgo my traditional pizza for something lighter.  Maybe a turkey sandwich w/a nice salad.
But I'm not giving up the pie.
You can take the pie when you pry the fork from my cold, dead hand.

Monday, November 7, 2016


I went and saw Doctor Strange the other night and thought it was okay.
Just okay.
Like most of the Marvel movies have been 'just okay.'
On a scale of 1 to 5, I'd give it a solid 3.
And that, gentle readers, is somewhat disappointing to me.
To me, Doctor Strange felt like any other Marvel movie. And it really shouldn't have, because while the other movies and their characters have mostly been grounded in Science Fiction or Fantasy, Doctor Strange should have fallen more into the Horror category.
Since the character deals with threats from beyond the universe, you would think the producer/director would have gone for a more Lovecraftian vibe. Instead, they went for a weirdly generic origin story with generous lashings of kung-fu and a slim veneer of generic magic.
Don't get me wrong. I think it's definitely worth paying full price to see, but I think it could have been so much better.