Comic Book Movie Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-posterI didn’t see this movie in theaters, mainly because I hated how the Turtles looked, and didn’t want to waste money on a movie I may dislike.  I figured I’ll just wait for it to be released on DVD, and get it from Netflix.  I don’t mind watching possibly bad movies with Netflix, a I feel like my money goes to the quality things I watch, and not the crap.  And so it’s with this thought That I watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  (Coincidentally, Jacob watched at the same time I did, in a different location.)  I’ll just say I do not regret my decision to wait.

I have been a TMNT fan since I was a wee little lad.  I was first introduced to them with the original cartoon.  After that, my brother and I found some collections of the original comics, and read them until the covers fell off.  I loved the movies, freaking out when I saw a poster for Secret of the Ooze.  Between my childhood and a few years ago, I didn’t have much contact with the franchise.  I saw and loved the animated TMNT movie, but I didn’t watch the television cartoon.  It was a dark time in which I didn’t have DVR.  Those were dark times.  I got back into the franchise a few years ago with the launch of IDW’s series, and the Nickelodeon series.  I really enjoy both and recommend them to everyone. I tried to have an open mind about this new movie.  I wanted to be pleasantly surprised by it.  After all, a few people I know said it was enjoyable.  However, I did not like it all.  (Some spoilers below.) (more…)

Chuck Austen’s X-Men: Heroes and Villains

X-Men 162-00fcTook Place In
 X-Men #429-431

Team Line-Up
Havok (Leader), Iceman, Gambit, Juggernaut, Rogue, Polaris, Wolverine

Others You Should Be Aware Of
Nurse Annie, Sammy the Fish Boy, Sammy the Fish Boy’s Mom the Fish Boy Mom, Carter Ghazikhanian, Xorn II, Northstar

In a Nutshell
A brand new Brotherhood of EEEEEvil Mutants (now with more elephants!) attacks the X-Men and Nurse Annie leaves the school.

We sure have been through a lot, haven’t we? We started way back in Hope with a fight against a talking tree who got an orgasm (Stacy X, we miss you so) and have been through werewolves, evil churches, bionic rednecks, and even the Draco. But here is where it all ends. Heroes and Villains is the swan song of Chuck Austen’s far too long run with the X-Men, and then he pretty much falls out of the entire mainstream comic scene.

Our story begins in Philadelphia where a tour group seeing Independence Hall is attacked by a brand new lineup of Brotherhood of Mutants. Led by Exodus, the lineup is made up of Avalanche, Black Tom Cassidy, Sabretooth, Nocturne and new character Mammomax. It is one of the most logic-defying team rosters I think I’ve ever seen. There is simply no reason for this crew to be together if one thinks about their characterizations. To illustrate this point, let’s think about some of the previous Brotherhood line-ups.

The original, led by Magneto, was governed by the thought that mutants would be the leaders of the world through violence and force to teach the ordinary humans their place in the evolutionary ladder. Mastermind and Toad wanted to be a part of the eventual leaders of the world, while Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver were conflicted between owing their lives to Magneto, while not believing in his actions. The lineup made sense, and the later replacements like Blob and Unus to make up for the departure of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch leaned on their desire for power.

The second Brotherhood, brought together by Mystique, was a more level-headed basis of doing whatever they wanted to get what they wanted. Mystique and Destiny might have had loftier goals, but the likes of Blob, Pyro and Avalanche were just there because they were thugs willing to get their hands dirty to get what they wanted. When the whole organization landed in jail, they made a deal with the government liking the thought of being pardoned for doing practically the same thing. This mindset stuck with the Toad-led Brotherhood of the early 90’s.

But let’s look at this one. Exodus is the self-appointed heir to the ways of Magneto. He’s all about mutantkind and doing whatever it takes to ensure that mutants begin the dominant species of the planet, which he showed through his past (and future) leadership of the Acolytes. There is no way whatsoever that he would align himself with Sabretooth who slaughtered countless mutants for profit and enjoyment as one of Sinister’s Marauders. Black Tom Cassidy has always been about profit to himself, and was never much of a team-player outside of his friendship with Juggernaut. Nocturne is not a villain at all – she was a member of the Exiles, and though she apparently has a reason for being there, it doesn’t at all work. Avalanche and Mammomax fill out the ranks. Unlike any of the previous Brotherhoods, this group has little goal beyond “destroy the X-Men”. Oh, and attack tourists.

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Spider-Man, the MCU and movie-paced storytelling

Wow, it’s been quiet around here hasn’t it?  For me, I blame the United States Postal Service.  Not to say I’m “mailing it in” (har har).  Anyway, just because J.R. and I haven’t been keeping up with the blog (sorry!) doesn’t mean we’re not keeping up with comicdom and pop culture chunks.  Well, I’m a little behind because of work, but I’m doing my best to catch up for work here as well as on a vocal-based project coming soon from me and a comic shop owner.  Stay tuned.

But because I’m known by many of my friends as a comic book nerd (and rightfully so) whenever something happens that makes buzz, someone will likely come to me and ask my opinion on it.  Lately, it’s been the announcement that Sony and Marvel are bringing Spider-Man to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Um, woo hoo?

But don’t get my lack of excitement bug you.  I’m not a movie watcher, per se, as in I don’t really watch movies.  While I am up on my X-Men movies which isn’t a big surprise, as for the MCU I’m really behind.  I’ve seen the first two Iron Man movies, the second Captain America movie and the Avengers.  Now before you jump down my throat screaming HOW COULD YOU CALL YOURSELF A FAN AND NOT SEE THEM ALL?!!! let me roll my eyes and say that if a movie’s theme doesn’t interest me, I’m not going to go out of my way to give time and money to it.  So when you toss out a solo movie for Thor or Hulk (or Superman for that matter, if you’re a DC fan) I’m not going to get excited because the characters don’t appeal that much to me.  If it’s important enough to someone I like and value the opinion of, I can be swayed.  For instance, my friend Andrew finally sat me down and made me watch Winter Soldier, and I give him props for doing so.

But enough about me, let’s talk Spider-Man in the MCU.

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Amusing Ad Placement

The following is taken from Justice League United #7.  Yes, I know it came out a while ago.  Yes, I’m really, really behind in my reading.  Anyways, a little background.  Ultra is a kid alien that was created by combining the DNA of several alien races, hoping to create a supreme being, or something.  It’s the first story arc, read it.  Anyways, the villain Byth has taken Ultra, and use him to rule the universe.  The Legion has come back in time to kill Byth because of what happens in the future.  The JLU likes Ultra, and wants to save him.  Green Arrow brings up the possibility that they should at least discuss what they’re going to do if they can’t save Ultra.

JLU 8 Stargirl

Of course, no one on the team raises their hand.  However, the first thing I saw after reading this panel was this ad on the next page.

JLU 8 NBA ad

That’s right, Carmelo Anthony is in favoring of killing bio-engineered, alien kids who may or may not destroy the universe.

Transformers the Movie Part 2: The Sacking of Autobot City

When we last left our film, Optimus Prime had sent four out-of-print Autobots on a fuel run and they got massacred by Decepticons.  It was pretty depressing for everyone.

If you’re just joining us, the G1 cartoon has jumped forward two decades and the Decepticons are now in control of Cybertron with the Autobots formulating an invasion on two “secret” bases on the planet’s moons.  Secret gets quotation marks because the Decepticons are completely aware of their existence, yet for some reason don’t wipe them out, even though they have managed to conquer the planet.  The Autobots, however, have expanded their Earth operation from one ship wedged into a volcano into an entire Autobot City, which is what we’ll be dealing with in this chapter.

We open just outside of the city with two brand new characters – young upstart Autobot Hot Rod and his little human buddy Daniel, who is the son of Spike and his lady love Carly, whom true fans of G1 will know.  However, she – along with Spike’s father Spark Plug and the wheelchair bound Chip no longer will be appearing.  Try to get over your anguish.

Hot Rod and Daniel are spending the day fishing, though Daniel is all bummed out because he’s missing his father who as you will recall is stationed up on Moon Base 2.  Hot Rod assures Daniel that Spike will be back soon, even though Spike said earlier that he wouldn’t be home until Megatron’s tail was kicked across the galaxy.  Unfortunately, that message didn’t get to Daniel, since it’s messenger sort of got his head blown off.  No mouth, no message.

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A critical look at Transformers: The Movie: Part One

I consider myself a decent fan of Generation 1 era Transformers, but truthfully it wasn’t until the mid 90’s that I started watching the series (in the form of the so-called “Generation 2″ updated repeats).  Most kids born in the 80’s that claim to have watched Transformers as kids are fibbing a little.  I was born in 1982, but Transformers was more of my brother’s thing as I was too young to remember it.  My series were more Real Ghostbusters and TMNT.

But there was one bit of the early Transformers that was cemented in memory due to a well-used VHS copy of Transformers: The Movie, complete with the bad ass image of the brand new Autobots shooting their guns into the sky, though for whatever reason, the main character of the movie is stuck in a tiny image in the back right corner, which is something of a spoiler if you haven’t seen the movie.

Anyway, once the show was gone from the cartoon rotation that lone VHS tape was the only Transformers left in the Dunman household, save for my brother’s toys that I demolished many of.  Don’t give me that look – he got me back by torching nearly all of my GI Joes (including Crazy Legs!).  My point is that not often did much time go by before the epic tunes of Stan Bush filled our living room as we once again saw the Autobots light their darkest hour.  My mom, heavens bless her, hated the movie with a passion, mainly because she found the musical score to be unbearable.  Later, once my adult years crept up and I became familiar with the source, I realized the other reason she despised our insistence on repeated viewings.

It’s not good.  At all.  And that’s the thing I’ve come to realize.  Granted,  the movie still holds a spot in my heart, but I find it difficult to believe that any G1 fan can actually enjoy it.

Like many children’s cartoons, Transformers existed as a 22 minute commercial for the toy line, and there were a lot of Transformers to sell.  Keep in mind that original lineup of Autobots featured 18 characters.  That’s Legion of Super-Heroes big right there, and it got steadily bigger as the show went on.  By the second season, the originals had been joined by so many new Autobots that the lineup had more than doubled.  And there was never any reason for new characters to show up – they were just there.  New toys had appeared, so the show had to feature them, right?

The movie was a huge event for both fans and those profiting alike.  For the fans, they got a full-length feature film on the big screen.  For Hasbro, they not only had a grand stage to roll-out another line of toys, but to also get rid of those who weren’t sold anymore.  And so, out with the old and in with the new.  A new status quo was established, and a new cast of heroes and villains were brought in to fill it.  And quality or fan opinion be damned.

I’ve spent nearly three decades becoming more familiar with this movie than anyone not interested in attending a Bot Con should, but there it is.  It’s hard to sum up my thoughts and opinions on this movie, so I’m going to do it in the best way I can – pick it apart in a plot synopsis and make snarky comments.  If site traffic is any indication, I’m pretty good at doing that.

So here we are – an in-depth look at Transformers: The Movie.  Get comfortable – it’s going to be a long one.  I suppose I should throw out a SPOILER alert for anyone who would be angered at reading an in-depth look at a 30 year old movie and being shocked that I gave away the name of who died.  It’s everyone.

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