Thursday, August 28, 2014

Joaquin Phoenix in Final Negotiations to Play Doctor Strange

While its release date hasn't been officially announced, many people suspect Doctor Strange will be hitting theaters July 2016. That's all fine and dandy, but its still up in the air on who will wear that signature cape and take on the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme. Well, it was until Collider announced that Academy Award winning actor Joaquin Phoenix is apparently in final negotiations to play the role.

Honestly, I'm a little disappointed by this development. Don't get me wrong, I think Phoenix is a fine actor and he's done some fantastic work. I personally wanted Pedro Pascal (a.k.a., Oberyn Martell) for the part. Pascal would have been an amazing Stephen Strange, and I want that man to get a lot more work. Also, I just don't feel like Phoenix is the right person for the part.

However, a lot of people felt that way about Robert Downey Jr. as well. When that casting was announced, I remember everyone criticizing it. I was passenger on that bandwagon for a little while myself until I thought about Downey's past, the things he's gone through, and how much he looks like Tony Stark. Now, people probably can't think of anyone playing Iron Man but Robert Downey Jr. 

The same thing could happen here. I could remain incredibly skeptical until I see the move and be blown away. You never know. However, something just doesn't feel right about this casting. I really hope this goes well and we don't end up with another Rhodey situation on our hands. 

What do you think? Do you think Mr. Phoenix is good choice for the Sorcerer Supreme? If not, who would you cast in the role?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy is a film that should not work. Its a film based on an obscure team of superheroes, directed and co-written by someone known for dark comedy and horror movies, and possesses a talking raccoon and sentient tree within its cast. The film simply reeked of failure and many feared that it would be Marvel Studios' first real flop.

However, much like its titular team of misfits and outcasts, Guardians of the Galaxy manages to defy expectations. Not only does it work, but its easily one of the best Marvel movies to date, standing up there with The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Directed by James Gunn (Slither, Super) and co-written by Gunn and Nicole Perlman, Guardians of the Galaxy is a space opera starting a team of unlikely heroes. We have Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), a scoundrel who goes by the name Star-Lord and loves 70's pop music; Rocket (Bradley Cooper), a gun-toting raccoon; Groot (Vin Diesel), a sentient tree; Gamora (Zoe Saldana), a deadly assassin and Thanos' adoptive daughter; and Drax the Destroyer (David Bautista), a tattooed warrior driven by revenge. 

After stealing a mysterious orb coveted by the vicious warlord Ronan (Lee Pace), Quill finds himself with a massive bounty on his head. Once he breaks free of a high-tech prison, these odd individuals are drawn together with the hopes of evading Ronan and discovering the true power of the orb. Can the Guardians manage to save the galaxy, or will they fail and spell doom for us all? 

If you've seen any of the trailers for the film, you'd most likely expect Guardians of the Galaxy to be a silly romp that focuses more on over-the-top action and humor than serious drama. However, you'd only be partially correct. While Guardians is incredibly irreverent and hilarious, the film's also packed full of heart. I never thought I would feel so much heartache for a talking raccoon and his sentient tree friend. Don't let the strange premise fool you, Guardians of the Galaxy's script is incredibly well-written film, knowing how to balance the humor with surprising emotional depth. Perlman and Gunn should really give themselves a pat on the back. They definitely deserve it.

The protagonists and the performers who portray them are great as well. It would be so easy for the titular Guardians to end up as two-dimensional stereotypes or walking punchlines. However, that great script and some seriously great performances prevent that. As the film progresses, you truly began to care about this group of misfits and want to see them succeed. While everyone does a phenomenal job, I feel like I have to praise Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel specifically. Of all the characters, Rocket and Groot would probably be the easiest to screw up. However, Cooper really does bring life to this genetically enhanced creature and Diesel manages to say and express so much with just three, simple words. Because of that, Rocket and Groot are basically the heart of this film.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention how stunning the film is visually. Each scene is filled with so much color, the designs are intriguing, and the cinematography is great. I never felt board while watching this film, with almost every scene possessing something that's visually interesting. While I didn't see the film in 3D, I feel like it'd be one of the few films that would be worth the extra ticket price.

With that being said, Guardians of the Galaxy does have its flaws. While the script itself is great, the plot is a little too basic at times, leading to situations where the audience can probably figure out what's going to happen with relative ease (at least, a general idea of what's going to happen, since there are some moments within the film that I would have never guessed would happen in a million years). Secondly, the villains are somewhat lacking. While Lee Pace tries his hardest, giving a solid performance, Ronin ultimately isn't that interesting. When you compare him to villains like Loki or The Winter Soldier, that's somewhat unfortunate.

Thankfully, these blemishes do not ruin Guardians of the Galaxy. The film truly is marvelous, managing to take a concept that should have never worked and made something truly special out of it. If you have some free time, I implore you to go down to your local theater and check out this film. You will not regret it. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Jason Momoa Cast as Aquaman: Thoughts & Opinions

It looks like Jason Momoa (a.k.a Khal Drogo for the Game of Thrones fans) will be taking on the role of the King of Atlantis in Zack Snyder's upcoming Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. While this theory surfaces months ago, recent developments seem to point to this actually being real. Because I'm a comic fan who likes to express his opinions about things, I thought I'd go ahead and give my two cents on this. I can actually boil it down to ten words.

"Cool. Still don't give a shit about the move though."

I wasn't kidding when I said that Man of Steel killed any hope I had in DC's movie franchise being any good, and the news surrounding this cluster f@#k waiting to happen hasn't changed that. While I like Momoa and feel like he unfairly suffers from typecasting, I still can't muster any excitement for Dawn of Justice.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

First Impressions of Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman

As part of their Comic-Con panel, Warner Bros. gave us the first look of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman (who will not be receiving her own film, but having a glorified cameo in Batman & Flying Batman's film). Because I'm a huge Wonder Woman fan, I thought I'd give my initial impression of the costume. 

Honestly, I have rather mixed feelings about the costume. I really like the look and the shape of the costume, having always preferred versions of the Diana's suit that possessed a skirt. However, I absolutely hate the heels. Adding heels to Wonder Woman's outfit was a horrible idea and whoever made that decision should be slapped. hard. 

Also, I getting really sick and tired of all the desaturated pictures coming out of DC and Warner Bros. They're trying so hard to be "dark" and "edgy", but it just looks dull and lifeless to me. Would it be too much to have at least a little color once in awhile? 

What do you think of Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman costume? Do you like it, do you hate it, or are you indifferent? 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Legend of Korra Going Digital: My Thoughts & Concerns

Art by Bryan Konietzko
Bryan Konietzko, the co-creator of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, posted this picture to his Tumblr page after the news broke that Nickelodeon would cease airing two episodes of The Legend of Korra per week, and would be pulling the last five episodes from its airing schedule.

The other co-creator, Michael Dante DiMartino, also made the following comment on his Facebook:
"Hang tight, Korra fans. There is 1 new episode this Friday at 8, then the rest of the season will be available from various sites online. We'll let you know when we have more details. Thanks!" 
As one might suspect, this announcement has sent the Korra fanbase into a crazed frenzy. Many fans feared Nickelodeon had decided to cancel the show mid-season. While that doesn't seem to be the case, the specifics are still shrouded in mystery and we will not know anymore until after the Korra panel at this year's Comic-Con in San Diego. If you'd like to keep yourself up to date about The Legend of Korra and the developments around this announcement, I suggest checking out

Personally, I have very mixed emotions about this. Part of me is saddened by the news that I won't be able to tune in on Friday nights to watch two new episodes of Book 3. While that airing schedule was a little strange, I kind of like getting two doses of Korra goodness. Also, I wish they could give us more concrete answers about which websites will be hosting the Korra episodes, when they'll be posted, and what this means for Book 4 (which is nearing the end of its production).

However, another part of me wonders if the move to digital might be a godsend for the series. Its not secret that Nickelodeon has treated The Legend of Korra horribly. They've screwed with the scheduling, bungled the advertisement for it, and have shown almost no confidence in the series. I've always found this odd, especially considering that The Legend of Korra is the sequel to one of the most successful cartoons of the past decade, was highly rated, and probably raked in a lot of money for Nick. You'd think they'd give the creators more benefit of the doubt because of that. Apparently you'd be wrong.

What do you think? Do you think the move to digital will be a good or bad thing for The Legend of Korra? Also, what do you think of Book 3? Do you like it, or not? I'm personally enjoying it a lot at the moment.

*UPDATE* We've received some clarification about what will be happening with this move to digital. Beginning on August 1st, the remaining episodes of Book 3 will be appearing weekly on and the Nick app, as well as platforms like Amazon, Google Play, Xbox, and Hulu.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Random Musings: Why Changing a Character's Ethnicity Isn't a Bad Thing

The New Sentinel of Liberty!
While on The Colbert Report last week, Marvel's CCO Joe Quesada revealed that Sam Wilson (a.k.a "The Falcon") will be taking on the title of Captain America this fall. When Marvel teased that Steve Rogers would be passing on the iconic shield, many people speculated that Wilson would be the one to receive it due to his longtime partnership with Rogers. Although many fans are happy with the announcement and excited to see this new take on the Sentinel of Liberty, a very vocal minority of fans have cried foul.

These "fans" labelled the decision as disrespectful to Captain America's legacy, believing the move is just an obvious ploy to pander African American fans and nothing more. These people are most likely the same people who criticized the decision the introduction of Miles Morales as the Ultimate Spider-Man or the casting of Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm in the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot. They see this decision as a slight against their favorite character, believing this change in ethnicity is is going against the true nature of the character due to the character almost always being depicted as a white guy.

Of course, this belief is total bullshit.

Yes, Captain America has almost always been depicted as a Caucasian male. However, there is nothing about the character that requires him to be that ethnicity. Captain America's core concept is a hero that truly believes that a person should always do what's right, no matter what the cost is. As long as the character remains true to that concept, their ethnicity (or gender, for that matter) shouldn't matter in the slightest.

Captain America is Captain America, whether its Steve Rogers or Sam Wilson behind the mask.

Also, I find it weird that some fans find it hard to accept an African American as Captain America, but will easily buy a world where a teenager can be bitten by a radioactive spider and gain superpowers or a scientist can accidentally combine the DNA of Tomas Edison with his pet cockatiel, creating an anthropomorphic bird genius. They can accept that, but find Captain America being black too much. I can't be the only one who sees the problem here, can I?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Movie Review: Amazing Spider-Man 2

Spider-Man is a character that's always been very near and dear to my heart. Probably like most people my age, I was introduced to Peter Parker through the Fox Kids' Spider-Man cartoon and one of the first comics I ever purchased was a back issue of The Amazing Spider-Man from the 1970's. The adventures of Peter Parker left a lasting impression on me and helped influence my superhero tastes.

Keep that in mind when I say The Amazing Spider-Man 2 disappointed me. Now, don't let that lead you to believe that I hated the film because that couldn't be further from the truth. I actually rather enjoyed the film for what it was and would recommend seeing it if you have the time. However, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had so much potential and could have been spectacular. Unfortunately, its problems cause it to fall short of reaching those heights.

Like the previous film, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 tells the story of Peter Parker, a teenager from Queens who developed super powers after being bitten by a radioactive spider. Now, he must balance the demands of his everyday life with the growing responsibilities of being a superhero. After saving the city from the vicious Lizard, Peter has to deal with a shocking new villain and the numerous secrets surrounding the disappearance of his parents and Oscorp. Will Peter be able to protect the city and his loved ones, or will this be the end for Spider-Man?

The biggest problem with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is its unfocused narrative. At one moment, the film is a romantic drama between Peter and Gwen Stacy, at another its a conspiracy movie focusing on the mysteries of Oscorp and his parent's connections to the corporation, then its a movie about the struggles of being a superhero and how great power also leads to great responsibility. While each plot point is relatively fine on its own, bringing them all together into one film causes the story to be less cohesive and very muddled.

There are also times where certain subplots either end in plot cul-de-sacs or seem to only be included to tease future movies. The best examples of this are the two scenes that contain Aleksei Sytsevich (a.k.a. The Rhino). He appears in one of the first few scenes of the movie to give us an example of Peter being a hero, then disappears for the remainder of the film to randomly show up at the end piloting a gigantic, robotic suit designed to look like a rhino. You could easily replace both of these scenes and lose absolutely nothing.

However, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 does have two very strong points: its characters and its action scenes.

Like its predecessor, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 possesses a menagerie of interesting characters with great interactions played by wonderful actors. Andrew Garfield continues to be perfect in the role of Peter Parker, capturing the cocky jokester persona of Spider-Man and balancing it with the nerdy outsider that is his secret identity. Emma stone is equally as perfect, making us truly care about Gwen and you believe the two character's relationship due to their excellent chemistry. Finally, I feel like I would be doing Jaime Foxx a disservice if I didn't mention his fantastic performance as Electro. In the hands of a less talented actor, Matt Dillon would have come off as an insulting caricature, but Foxx makes the character believable and you feel how tragic his situation is.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 also excels in the action department. Almost every action scene is kinetic and visually interesting, making you feel the weight of everything that is happening and is incredibly entertaining. I'd also like to applaud the decision to utilize slow motion to visualize Peter's "spidey sense". It works perfectly and really gets the idea across.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a good film that unfortunately could have been an excellent one. If the story was just as good as the characters and action scenes, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 would have truly been amazing.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Movie Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America: The First Avenger is easily one of my favorite superhero movies. Like the director's previous work The Rocketeer, The First Avenger was a period piece that was just good, old fashioned fun. When I learned the sequel would be going in a more serious direction, I was somewhat nervous.

Thankfully, my fears turned out to be unfounded. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is easily one of the best Marvel films to date.

After the battle with the Chitari invaders during the final act of The Avengers, genetically-enhanced super-soldier Steve Rodgers is now an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., handling a number of missions for the powerful organization. However, not everything is at it seems when Nick Fury is seemingly assassinated by a mysterious culprit known simply as "The Winter Soldier" and Rodgers becomes a wanted man. Can Captain America, Black Widow, and the new comer the Falcon discover the truth behind this conspiracy before it's too late, or will they become its newest victims?

Unlike the previous film, The Winter Soldier possesses a much more serious tone. In many ways, the movie resembles a political thriller set in a world where superheroes exist. However, the films doesn't let this new tone overpower the film. The Winter Soldier manages to hold onto the underlying feeling of hope that made The First Avenger great and infuses this darker tale with some well-written humor and fun action scenes that give the film a since of equilibrium and make the film incredibly enjoyable.

The film is also enhanced by a talented cast who all give excellent performances. Chris Evans continues to prove that he was born to play the role of Steve Rodgers, perfectly capturing the essence of the character and making him feel like a real, three-dimensional human being. Scarlett Johansson is equally fantastic, breathing life into a rather complex character and possessing some real platonic chemistry of Evans, making you believe these two characters would work well together as a team and would eventually become friends. Anthony Mackie does a fine job with the new character of Sam Wilson, presenting this veteran as a likable individual who just wants to do what's right and Sebastian Stan is excellent as the Winter Soldier, managing to be terrifying at one moment and tragic the next.

Finally, the directing and writing are top notch. Anthony and Joe Russo, a pair who are not really known for action films, definitely show off their directing chops. Almost every scene is tight and uses the visual language of film superbly. This is only enhanced by a solid script from Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. Its smartly written and doesn't treat its audience like children, which is a nice change of pace from hand-holding nature of most modern blockbusters.

However, the film does have a few blemishes. While I felt the film's twist was great and I enjoyed its villains, I felt their motivations were a little simplistic. While that's not necessarily a bad thing and I would rather they keep something simplistic instead of overtly complicated, I wish their motivations had a little more meat to them. Also, some of the foreshadowing at the beginning of the film was a little too on the nose at times.

Thankfully, these minor problems do not ruin the film in the slightest. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is probably the 2nd best Marvel film to date, just barely falling short of The Avengers. The film manages to go a darker, more suspenseful route without loosing the sense of hope and fun that was present in its predecessor. If I haven't made it clear by now, I love this film and it easily blew past all my expectations. You will be doing yourself a great disservice if you don't go see this film as soon as humanly possible.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Return of Wally West

The Flash Annual #3 Cover by Brett Booth
According to an announcement made via USA Today, Wally West will finally be returning to the DC Universe in The Flash Annual No. 3, which hits the shelves April 30th. I'll consider this a late birthday present, since Wally West has always been one of my favorite characters and I've always preferred him to his mentor, Barry Allen. 

However, I'm unfortunately not too fond of the new costume. While I'm glad he's not wearing a black and red costume like so many other DC characters are sporting, I'm not a fan of the electrical elements. With that being said, I will say it looks a lot better than another former Teen Titan's new costume (*cough* Raven *cough*). 

Based on the design of the costume, I'm guessing Wally will be the new Cobalt Blue. However, that's pure speculation at this point. I'm just glad Wally West will finally be returning to the comic world, along with my favorite Batgirl Stephanie Brown (I know she's Spoiler again, but I'll take what I can get). 

Question Time: What do you think about Wally West making his return to the DC Universe? Do you like the new costume? What do you think his new role will be in the comics? Leave your answers in the comments below. 

The Death of Net Neutrality

Recently, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia overthrew the FCC's 2010 order that imposed network neutrality regulations on wireline broadband services. This is something of a blessing for telecom companies who have been desperately fighting this ruling for years.

For those of you who are not familiar with the original FCC order and why this is a bad thing, I'll do my best to elaborate. The original order stated that wireline ISPs "shall not block lawful content, applications, services or non-harmful devices, subject to reasonable network management" while also mandating that ISPS "shall not unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful traffic over a consumer's broadband Internet access service."

This essentially meant that an internet service provider couldn't block or throttle a completely legal website or online service because it just felt like it. However, with this new ruling, that is no longer the case. Here's an excerpt from a Popular Science article talking about the possible repercussions of this ruling:
"Without a net neutrality requirement, service providers could turn internet connections into a toll road, charging companies like Netflix or Google extra money to deliver their packets with a higher priority than others. This, in turn, could also slow down the loading of sites that couldn't or refused to pay. The biggest fear is a "cable-ization" of the internet, where certain internet providers only provide service to certain sites, in much the way that cable channels are packaged and sold separately." 
Now, you might be asking yourself, "If the possible repercussions are so bad, why did the Court of Appeals make this new ruling?" Apparently, the court believes the restrictions are no longer needed since users have a choice in what ISP they use.
"Without broadband provider market power, consumers, of course, have options. They can go to another broadband provider if they want to reach particular edge providers or if their connections to particular edge providers have been degraded." 
The problem with this is the court did not take into account that a user's choices might be limited by service location, and or by rental contracts that say they can only use one particular provider. For example, let's say you live in a more rural area of the country where your choices are extremely limited. If your service starts to mess with your internet in an attempt to wrestle money out of these popular services, I guess you're just screwed and hope Google Fiber starts spreading a lot faster.

Hopefully, with enough media attention and people complaining, we can get this stupid ruling overturned. If you'd like to show your support, you can sign this petition and hopefully our voices will be heard.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Problem With Steampunk Wonder Woman

Recently, DC Comics released a handful of steampunk variant covers for their releases next month. Some of them look pretty cool and make me actually want to pick them up just for the cover alone. However, others are a little problematic. 

To elaborate, I'll use a visual aid and see if you guys and gals can figure out what I'm talking about. First, I'll show you the two covers that I really like. 

Batgirl & Batwoman Variant Covers
Both covers look awesome and capture the characters and the concept of steampunk pretty well. Now, let's look at the two covers that I'm not that fond of. 

Wonder Woman & Wonder Woman/Superman Variant Covers
We have Wonder Woman, an Amazon and powerful warrior, is depicted as a flirty show girl and posing for Superman while he carries what I assume is her luggage because everyone knows girls always over-pack and make the men do all the hard work. 

See the problem? 

Out of all the characters, why is Wonder Woman depicted like this? Why is she placed in all the stereotypical "girly" roles, especially when Batgirl and Batwoman aren't? It just seems like a weird decision to me. Actually, this is DC and they are in the business of making weird and stupid decisions, so I shouldn't be too surprised by this. I guess I still have some hope left in me. 

Now, let me be perfectly clear about something. I'm not saying the covers are badly drawn. Both covers, especially the one on the left, look good from an artistic stance. Also, my problem isn't with the costume Diana is wearing, but how they depicted her. For example, let's look at the Teen Titans variant cover. 

Teen Titans Variant Cover
Wonder Girl is depicted in a similar show girl outfit to Wonder Woman. However, at least she is in an action pose and not posing for her boyfriend or giving a flirty look at two people wielding guns. I don't mind the outfit, I just wish she was depicted in a way that matched the character's personality. 

Is that too much to ask?