Sunday, November 17, 2013

Such Heroic Nonsense: Get 'Em While They're Young

I mentioned in my last post that the release of Man of Steel on Blu-ray got me thinking about a couple topics, and I'd like to take some time to talk about the other.  Actually, the truth is that I've been thinking about this for a while, but Man of Steel just put it into stark relief: comics and superheroes don't seem to be for kids anymore.  And I think that's a bigger problem than anyone in the industry--especially at DC--realizes.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Such Heroic Nonsense: My Top 5 Superhero Movies


This week saw the release of Man of Steel on DVD and Blu-ray, and with it a renewed discussion of that film's portrayal of violence, collateral damage, tone and the ethics of killing supervillains.  I'm not going to get into those discussions here, because as I've said before, the two sides of the debate really do seem to be talking past each other.  I'm not sure yet what these stark and seemingly irreconcilable differences among fans mean for superheros and their various medias, but the topic has gotten me thinking about a couple different things that I'd like to discuss at length.

First up: superhero movies and my personal Top 5 of the genre.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Ten Things: Thor: The Dark World

I'm just going to put this out there: Thor is probably my favorite Marvel superhero.  Thor and his supporting cast bring so much of what I love in good superhero stories: high adventure, whimsey, conflicted villains and high-stakes conflicts with a healthy dose of high fantasy strangeness.  Basically, everyone is larger than life and they are constantly dealing with weird and crazy shit.  And it all works, because we're dealing with Norse gods and nothing that modern writers can come up with will ever be as strange as the actual myths.

This love of Thor (and Tom Hiddleston's Loki) is probably why I thoroughly enjoyed the original Thor film, even though it is objectively in the lower-tier of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  The sequel, Thor: The Dark World, thankfully requires no qualifiers or justifications to explain my enjoyment.  This movie is fun, joyful, and above all funny in a way that hasn't been seen since Captain America and the first Iron Man.  While it takes a while to get going, the second and third acts more than make up for a slow start.  If you get the chance, you should definitely check this movie out.

Now here are ten things that I didn't like.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Ten Things: Pacific Rim

I'm not going to lie: Pacific Rim is easily my favorite movie so far this year, with disclaimer that I haven't seen Gravity yet and Thor: The Dark World and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug have yet to be released.  But even if Gravity turns out to be the best movie I see this year, Pacific Rim will still hold a special place in my heart.  Not only is it a Kaiju movie--and I love me some Kaiju movies--it's a Kaiju movie made with a big budget by Guillermo del Toro.  Plus, it's fun.  Indeed, Pacific Rim was easily the most fun I've had watching a movie since The Avengers.  If you don't already own it on Blu-ray, do so.

But Pacific Rim is by no means perfect, so here are ten things that I didn't like about it.

Monday, October 7, 2013

I Love It, But It Sucks: The Hobbit

Before I start, I want to be absolutely clear: I really do love The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  Seriously.  While I don't think that it was one of the best movies to come out last year, it was one that I highly enjoyed--which is more than can be said of a lot of things I've seen in the last year or so.

But as much as I like The Hobbit, it is not a good movie.  At all.  In fact, it's easily the worst of the four Tolkien adaptations by director Peter Jackson.  Not even the padded, plodding theatrical cut of Two Towers can really hold a candle to The Hobbit at its worst.  Which is a shame, because there is a good movie hiding in The Hobbit, and it features some of the best scenes in the entire franchise.

I know that I'm going to get some blow back from some friends for dissecting The Hobbit, but I think that understanding why this movie fails might help us understand some of what is wrong with Hollywood movies today.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Such Heroic Nonsense: Where's the Joy?

Man of Steel is a tricky movie for me to talk about.  Not only is it polarizing (you either love it or hate it--there's no middle ground), but it seems to be polarizing in a such a way that the two sides literally cannot comprehend where the other is coming from.  Just as it baffles me that anyone could actually enjoy Man of Steel, I know several people that are mystified that I didn't love it.

Like I said, tricky.  Still, I'd like to take some time to explain why I think that Man of Steel is not only the opposite of what a Superman movie should be, but also the antithesis of what superhero movies should be about.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Blood, Sweat and Chairshots: The People's Champions

Professional wrestling is a strange beast.  It's a "fake" sport with predetermined outcomes and storylines that can often make daytime soap operas seem realistic.  Why should I, a self-described lover of good stories, be so fascinated with a storytelling medium as bizarre as professional wrestling?

Well, for one thing, pro wrestling might be the single most interactive form of storytelling this side of improv comedy.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Ten Things: The Wolverine

To round out my discussion of superheroes over the last week or so, I'd like to take a moment to briefly talk about The Wolverine.  And yes, I know that this is a bit late, but I hadn't started this blog when it came out.  So there.

I didn't have high hopes going into this movie, given how bad the X-Men movies had gotten (First Class being the exception).  To my surprise, the film was actually pretty good.  I would rank it as maybe the third best in the franchise, behind X-2 and First Class.  Hugh Jackman still owns the role of Wolverine, and he remains the best thing about the franchise.  His performance here works especially well because the movie isn't trying to be a traditional superhero movie--it honestly feels more like a samurai film.  That difference in tone and structure is a welcome shift, because any experimentation with the formula can only help the genre at this point.

Now here are ten things I didn't like about it.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Such Heroic Nonsense: Sympathy for the Devil

In my previous post I discussed how heroes reflect the cultures that created them, and how their triumphs and mistakes serve to guide and inspire that culture.  Now I'd like to take a moment to discuss villains and why they are at their best when we agree with them.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Such Heroic Nonsense: They Will Stumble

My previous post sparked something of a conversation on my Facebook.  It was a good discussion, and one that led me to think a little more about heroes and why we need them.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Such Heroic Nonsense: The World Needs Heroes

For a long time, it wasn't cool to like superheroes.  To admit that you enjoyed tales of men and women who battled crime in colorful outfits was to label yourself a "nerd" or a "dork" and find yourself ostracized by your peers.  It's ironic, then, that nowadays movies like The Avengers and The Dark Knight boast some of the biggest box office numbers of all time.  How did that happen?  Why did it happen?

I think the truth is that we've always loved superheroes; we just didn't realize it until now.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I Love It, But It Sucks: Street Fighter

Video game movies don't exactly have the best track record.  Of the maybe dozen or so that I can recall (not including anime adaptations) one would be hard pressed to find one that can really be called good.  Even 1995's Mortal Kombat, which I consider to be the best video game movie ever made, has so many flaws that I would hesitate to say that it is anything other than okay.  But Mortal Kombat, while arguably the best video game movie, is not my favorite video game movie.  No, that honor belongs to a train-wreck from 1994 called Street Fighter.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ten Things: Star Trek Into Darkness

(For my inaugural post here at Impossible to Please, I thought it fitting to begin with an updated version of the Facebook status update that planted the first seed of an idea.)

I did not like Star Trek Into Darkness.  At all.  I could (and probably will) dedicate an entire blog post to why this movie is a failure and why it's a terrible omen for Star Wars Episode VII.  When I said as much on Facebook after seeing it, one of the first comments was how I don't like anything.  To prove that person wrong, I decided to come up with one thing that I liked about STID.  That one thing became five things, which ended up ballooning to ten things.  Soon I was listing ten good things in other movies I hated, plus ten bad things about movies I liked.  A few months later and that idea has blossomed into the blog you see here.

Mission Statement: Here There Be Ranting

It's hard to pinpoint where all of this started, but I'm pretty sure that it started with the first JJ Abrams Star Trek.  To say that I didn't care for that movie would be an understatement on par with calling the Grand Canyon "kind of big."  I despise that movie, and I let all my friends know how I felt.  A lot.  Probably more than was socially acceptable, and maybe even more than the film deserved.  But whenever I brought up how much I hated Star Trek, my friends would always respond the same way:

"Matt, you hate everything," they'd chuckle.