2018 Year End Honorable Mentions – Books/Comics

Posted in books, comic books, pop culture with tags , , , , , on February 4, 2019 by Paxton

YE Book Report

So you read my movie/TV Honorable Mentions list for 2018 (or maybe you didn’t).  Regardless, now it’s time for me to list out some books and comics that didn’t make the favorites list but I still want to talk about in some way.

Let’s do books first, then I’ll do some comics.

Origin
Origins – Dan Brown
– This is Brown’s latest Robert Langdon novel. *Long loud sigh* I really liked the first two Langdon books, Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code. I really didn’t like the third book, The Lost Symbol. I kind of liked Inferno, especially in how it ends the book with the implication that Langdon didn’t actually save the day. But rather than another Langdon sequel, I’ve longed for Brown to write more standalone novels akin to Deception Point and Digital Fortress. Instead, we get this book, which addresses *NONE* of the consequences of the previous book that I thought were so interesting. There was even a spot at the end of Origin where Inferno could actually have come up. But it doesn’t. Consequently, I hate this book with the lava-like fury of Apokolips itself.

RPO
Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
– I wanted to talk about this in my previous list, but it was my third re-read of the book, so it was ineligible. This book has had an interesting journey for me. I *loved* it the first read. Then I listened to Wil Wheaton’s audio book version and I almost hated it. Then this particular re-read I swung back around to liking it again. I have some issues in the beginning, particularly with characterizations of certain people but I love how the world is setup and I love the Oasis.  And the mechanics of the egg hunt.  I’m looking forward to the sequel that Cline is supposedly writing.

Oracle Year
The Oracle Year – Charles Soule
– I’ve talked enough about stuff I didn’t like. How about something I *did* like that very nearly made my favorites list?  I’m a fan of Charles Soule’s comic book writing.  So I was very interested when he released his first novel.  The premise is: one day, a young man wakes up with 180 prophesies in his head.  He writes them down and with his friend, tries to figure out how best to use them.  He starts a website to keep himself anonymous, it becomes a sensation and suddenly he’s dealing with multinational corporations and governments that will stop at nothing to learn his secrets.  It’s a pretty engrossing read that I enjoyed all the way to the end.  No, it doesn’t answer every question I maybe would have liked answered, but it did its job and I really liked the book.  I’m looking forward to any more novels Soule wants to throw our way.

Landover trilogy
The Magic Kingdom of Landover Volume 1 – Terry Brooks
– I have this omnibus that contains the first three books in the series. I didn’t read all three of them last year. Just the third one. And while none of these three books made their respective years’ favorites list, as a group they are actually pretty good.  It’s an interesting take on fantasy.  A lawyer, sick of living the “lawyer life”, wants to get away.  He finds an ad squirreled away in an auction catalog for the purchase of the magical land of Landover.  He’s intrigued, gets his affairs in order, buys the land and travels to Landover, which exists in a different reality, to become its king. And it’s nothing like he had imagined.  I enjoyed the characters Brooks created in this series as well as the land of Landover itself.  And the rules by which the King of Landover must live.  It’s a fun three book cycle that has two more books in a second omnibus and a sixth book that was released several years ago.  I hadn’t originally planned on it but I’ll probably try the fourth book at some point.

Now on to comics.

New Superman
New Super-Man Volume 1: Made in China
– This was a total surprise to me.  I didn’t understand the point of this. Then, I actually thought I’d give it a shot because the more I thought about it the more I was intrigued where they were going with this.  And it’s actually pretty good.  China, feeling like they are falling behind in the super hero department find a way to duplicate powers in certain human beings.  So they create their own Superman, but will they live to regret the person they chose to *be* New Superman?  This very much reminds me of Greg Pak’s Totally Awesome Hulk.  It’s fun and funny.  I liked it a lot more than I expected.  Looking forward to volume 2.

DD
Daredevil Volume 1: Devil at Bay
– This is Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s initial run on Daredevil.  If you remember, I put Waid and Samnee’s Black Widow series on my year end list back in 2017. I said then that I need to check out their previous Daredevil run. So I did. And I didn’t like it. I love both these guys, but I just couldn’t get into this run. I think I just don’t like Daredevil. I had a similar problem getting into Frank Miller and Klaus Janson’s run on Daredevil and that run is revered by many comics fans.  I don’t know what to tell you, I tried.  The Charlie Cox Netflix series is great, but I just don’t like Daredevil comics, I guess.

Hex
Hex
– This was a 1985 reboot of the western character Jonah Hex. I had a few issues of this I bought off the rack back in the day. I was intrigued by the post apocalyptic premise featuring the formerly western hero. It ran for about 18 issues back in 85-87.  I read the first 6 last year.  I’m hoping to read the next 6 this year.  It takes place in the distant future but somehow Batman shows up in issues 11-12.  I have to know how that happens.  Anyway, it’s essentially Mad Max meets Paladin: Gun for Hire.  Jonah Hex wakes up in the distant future.  It’s post apocalyptic, after the third World War.  Hex is part of some rich guy’s zoo, but he escapes and roams the land helping out people and fighting off mutant bikers.  It’s not bad.  It’s different.  I won’t say it’s excellent, but it’s definitely an entertaining read.

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2018 Year End Honorable Mentions – Movies/TV

Posted in movies with tags , , on January 31, 2019 by Paxton

Movie Report

Okay, so I got my main year end lists, Favorite Movies of 2018 and Best Books I Read in 2018 out there.  My personal favorites have been laid bare for the Internet.  But there were some other movies I saw that I do want to give a mention.  I usually do that in an “Honorable Mention” section at the bottom of the aforementioned lists, but I decided to break it out this year.  And I didn’t really even discuss TV shows in that list, so there’s some stuff to talk about.

Below are some Honorable Mentions in movies/TV shows that I watched for the first time in 2018. These aren’t going to be necessarily the “next best selections” from my lists. These are just entries I want to talk about. Good or bad.

Let’s do a few movies first, then I’ll do some TV shows.


Justice League – I feel like I should address this since I saw it last year. It wasn’t bad. At the time I watched it, I liked it better than every other DC movie except Wonder Woman. Now, it’s third behind Aquaman.  There are things I didn’t love about it, of course. The inclusion of Cyborg is still baffling to me. Steppenwolf as the big blobby CGI villain kind of sucks. But there are many things I really like. Cavill is pretty much fixed as Superman here. Let me be more specific, I think Cavill is GREAT as Superman/Clark, but the writing of Superman has been out of whack.  THAT is what is fixed here.  I also love Supes’ return to the living and his initial fighting against the JL.  I love Wonder Woman.  I thought I’d love Batman more in this, but he was only okay.  I fully expected to hate Ezra Miller’s Flash, but I didn’t. I actually enjoyed it.  Aquaman is great in his debut here (as it’ll carry over to his own movie).  So there’s more to like than dislike for me.  I was surprised by that, especially judging by the online reaction to the movie.


The Polka King – This one is one I want to talk about, but it’s not for everyone.  I’ve really been enjoying Jack Black the last few years.  I’ve *always* found him funny but he’s really picking interesting projects during this latter part of his career. This, Goosebumps, the Jumanji sequel, and The House with a Clock in its Walls, are all things I’ve thoroughly enjoyed him in.  Polka King is different and a bit weird, like I said, not for everyone. But I really enjoyed it.  Black is flanked by a pretty great cast as well with Jenny Slate and Jason Schwartzman.  If you are so inclined, give this a watch, I think you may like it.


The Lord of the Rings Trilogy: Extended Editions – On Twitter last year I called out that I had never watched the LOTR Extended Editions.  Honestly, I never really had a desire to watch them.  Then I finally caved and borrowed the extended edition trilogy DVDs from a friend and made the commitment to watch all three extended edition movies.  It took me a month, but I finally got through all three extended editions.  You know what, I actually enjoyed it.  Backing up, my thoughts on the theatrical movies are; love the first one, hate the second one, like the third one.  After the extended editions, I love the first one even more, actually better appreciate the second movie, and still like the third one pretty much the same.  I don’t plan on ever watching the extended editions again, I’ll keep my theatricals because Jackson has gone on record saying *those* are his official versions, but this exercise has made me appreciate the movies as a whole even more.  So I’m glad for that.  And I’m actually looking forward to a rewatch of the theatrical editions soon.


The Hurricane Heist – This entry and the next entry are sort of linked. Last summer I was really wanting to get in a theatrical viewing of GeoStorm because of all the bad buzz it was getting. I couldn’t make that happen but then this movie dropped on Redbox and I thought it had a promising story and could be sort of “fun bad”. Plus it starred Toby Kebbel who I actually like as an actor even though he’s been in some very maligned stuff like the Ben Hur remake and that 2015 Fantastic Four movie.  I was wrong.  This movie is garbage and none of you should waste your time on it.  That is all.


Geostorm – Fast forward a few weeks.  I go to Tallahassee to visit CT for a nerd weekend.  Geostorm just dropped on Redbox so I pick it up and we watch it.  And it’s actually pretty fun.  I don’t know why everyone was blasting this as the worst movie of the year when I literally *just* watched the worst movie of the year and its name was Hurricane Heist.  This movie is ridiculous, Gerard Butler is 100% Gerard Butler-ing it up, but it’s all just so entertaining.  Unlike the previous movie.  And the effects look GREAT.  Maybe that’s the difference, this one had the budget so ultimately it works, but I feel like there’s a perfect storm of things that made me enjoy this.  A perfect Geostorm of things, if you will (and I will).  Is it a *good* movie by any definition?  No, but it’s an endlessly entertaining movie.  Especially if you watch it with a fellow nerd, like I did.

Now, here are a few TV shows I watched last year that I want to mention.


Santa Clarita Diet Season 2 – Steph and I watched the first season of this show back in 2017.  Loved it.  Season 2 dropped in 2018 and we watched it and loved it just as much.  It really gets bonkers in the second season.  The quick premise is that Drew Barrymore is mysteriously turned into a zombie-like creature that only wants to eat people. Not just brains, but all people parts. I’ve said many times that I don’t like zombie stuff, and this is *kind of* a zombie thing, but it does its own thing.  But it sort of makes zombies and their origins into something different, maybe something closer to what zombies used to be in 30s-40s movies like White Zombie.  Drew and Timothy are hilarious in this.  Their daughter played by Liv Hewson and the kid next door played by Skylar Gisondo are also hilarious. They also open up the mythology of this series’ zombies just a little in this season. This is a great show and I really hope they keep it going. Like the show I’ll talk about next, the show runners here end each season on cliff hangers, so if it gets canceled, we are SOL.

Travelers
Travelers Seasons 2 & 3
– Steph and I watched both Season 2 and Season 3 of this show last year. Season 2 in January and Season 3 in December. This is a pretty great little sci-fi show that, like I mentioned above, actually ends its seasons with pretty hardcore cliff hangers. So, hopefully for us, they get renewed and the story can be resolved.  The premise: an oppressed, post-apocalyptic civilization in the future develops a way to send people’s consciousness back into the past.   Unfortunately the process completely erases the consciousness of the “host”.  So they only send people back into persons that historically are about to die.  And these agents that are sent back are following orders to make small changes to the timeline in order to bring about big changes in the future.  But real life in the 20th century constantly gets in the way for all the agents.  It’s a great show that seemingly could’ve ended in Season 3, but could also be a huge reboot for Season 4.  I’m not sure which it is yet.

Black Mirror
Black Mirror Season 4
– This is a great show and I’ve loved every season. Season 4 was a doozy.  The opening episode, USS Callister, was horrifying and great.  As was Arkangel and its look at what’s the line for protecting your children and invading their privacy?  Hang the DJ was a highlight and the final episode, Black Museum was pretty epic on its own.  Such a great modern version of Twilight Zone.  I’m looking forward to trying out the movie, Bandersnatch, at some point, but I really want the show to return with a new season.

So those are my honorable mentions in Movies and TV.  Coming up next, I’ll do the same for books and comics.

Year End Book Report: The Best Books/Comics I Read in 2018

Posted in books, comic books, movies, pop culture, Star Wars with tags , , , , , , on January 16, 2019 by Paxton

Year End Badass Book Report

Okay, I did my favorite movies of 2018 list. Time for my favorite books/comics of 2018 list.

I’m still keeping my reading log on Google Spreadsheets, however, I sort of re-upped my investment in Good Reads and updated my last two years of reading logs there. I want to test out that site’s functionality a bit more, possibly looking to keep my logs there permanently. You can check out my Good Reads shelves here.

According to Good Reads’ reading stats, I read 85 books/comics last year.  And here are the breakdowns of my starred reviews.

The stats also say I read 18,158 pages last year.  kind of strange to see that giant number written down as the number of pages I’ve read.  Yikes.

So, the same rules apply here as on my movie list.  Only new reads in 2018 count. No re-reads, which I did a few last year. It’s been hit or miss the last few years on getting 5 of both comics and books. However, I was able to get 5 books and 5 comics for this list. Let’s see what they are.

Books

Making of Star Wars
The Making of Star Wars – JW Rinzler
– I didn’t read this one straight through.  If you look at my read dates for this they go from Jun-Dec.  It took me several months because, first, the book is f’n HUGE.  And second, because I would read it in between other books a section at a time.  It’s a big, weighty tome but there’s a metric ton of information, charts, pictures, scripts, artwork.  You name it, it’s in there.  Rinzler combs through the Lucasfilm archives and gives us a micro drilldown on the making of the first movie in the trilogy. So much information and so much to process that I personally couldn’t have read it straight through.  But I’m glad I finished it.  I’m looking forward to Rinzler’s other two books in this series (Empire and Jedi).

Dark Matter
Dark Matter – Blake Crouch
– I got this on a lark during a Kindle sale. The premise was intriguing.  Jason Desson is mugged one night and knocked unconscious.  He wakes up in a place he’s never seen before in a life he never lived.  His wife is not his wife, his son was never born, and he’s not a college professor but a celebrated genius scientist who has achieved something impossible.  Is it this new world or the old one that is the dream?  See?  Great premise.  And the book delivers.  I really enjoyed where this book went.  It’s dark, but a fun read.  It gets pretty bonkers at the end, too.  Very much enjoyed this book, so much so I bought a few more of Crouch’s novels after I read it.

Vicious
Vicious (Villains Book 1) – VE Schwab
– I’d had my eye on this book for a while. The sequel, Vengeful, just came out the end of last year.  During their senior year, two brilliant college students form a theory that under the right conditions, humans could develop extraordinary abilities.  But when their research goes from theoretical to experimental, things go horribly wrong.  I really liked this book.  It’s a much darker take on super heroes and sets up a really cool world.  Several twists happen that I somewhat saw coming, but it didn’t bother me because I was enjoying the ride.  Yes, I *will* read the sequel.

Rap Year Book
The Rap Year Book – Shea Serrano
– Again, sort of bought on impulse at an end of the year Kindle sale.  Features the most important song from every year in hip-hop from like 1979 to 2014.  It’s the author that’s making the determination of “most important”.  I’m glad I got it, because rather than just be a giant list of facts, it’s actually a covert telling of the history of rap through the veneer of the most important singles of each year.  Lots of dropped information and the author is very entertaining in his writing.  And as I suspected, once the book got to about 2003, I hadn’t heard of any of the songs.  I was literally scratching my head the rest of the book.

Billy the Kid an Autobiography
Billy the Kid: An Autobiography – Daniel Edwards
– I thought long and hard about putting this book in.  But the more I thought, the more I realized it needs to go here.  If you’re at all interested in Billy the Kid or even the Wild West like I am, then this is a *very* intriguing read.  I talked about it on episode 49 of Hellbent for Letterbox.  This book does two things, first, it gives you a thorough account of the whole Brushy Bill Roberts saga through the original interviews with him in the late 40s.  Second, it supplements and comments on Brushy Bill’s story with research, facts, photo comparisons and conjecture from a third party, the author, in modern day.  You could almost call it the Brushy Bill Roberts Interviews: The Annotated Edition.  Daniel Edwards really digs in and tries to get to the bottom of the whole Brushy Bill saga.  I’d never really delved into that story, I just assumed it was all a bunch of bull, but there is so much to Brushy Bill’s story that I didn’t know!  Really opened my eyes to a few things.

Time to move on to…

Comics


Jeff Lemire books (Old Man Logan, Hawkeye, Thanos, Green Arrow)
– I sort of went through a tear of Jeff Lemire comics last year.  And I can’t pick one so I’m just going to group them together like I’ve done for the Jason Aaron Thor comics.  I started with Lemire/Sorrentino’s Old Man Logan series which pulls Mark Millar’s creation into the Marvel Universe proper.  Loved it.  Still reading through the series.  Then I tackled the Thanos comic which is an excellent series devoted to the mad Titan.  It’s huge, it’s cosmic, it’s epic.  I was already a fan of the Matt Fraction Hawkeye solo comics, so I was intrigued to see how Lemire would continue that series in All-New Hawkeye.  And it’s pretty awesome.  I love the developing relationship between Clint and Kate Bishop.  Finally, I found out late last year that Lemire took over the New 52 Green Arrow comic.  So I read it and it was a lot of fun as well!  Check out all of these, and while I’ve been a Lemire fan for a while, this latest run of comics has made him a must read for me.


The Mighty Thor: The Death of Thor – Jason Aaron
– And speaking of Jason Aaron’s Thor comics, he makes it on the list *again* this year with the finale to his previous Thor run.  I’ve spoken at length on these year end blogs and a few times on several podcasts about my love of Jason Aaron’s Thor.  It’s great, I love it, and this finale to the Jane Foster Thor saga is epic and heartbreaking and great.

Jughead's Time Police
Jughead’s Time Police
– So, yes, I bought all six issues of this comic off the rack back in 1990. And yes, I do, in fact, still have every one of those issues.  That did not stop me from buying the full collection in digital format last year and reading the entire series.  I’m surprised how much I still really like it.  I almost didn’t add it to this list because I was labeling it a re-read, but honestly, I don’t think I’d ever actually finished the whole series. I think I’d only read that first issue. So the *whole* series was new to me. It’s hokey, and cheesy, but in a very sweet way and the entire premise is wacky and fun.  Elements of this comic’s characters and story line even get a few call outs in the new Jughead reboot by Chip Zdarsky.  And this comic was ground zero for the creation of my 50cent Bin Teen Titans on Nerd Lunch last year.

Weapon X Weapon X 2
Weapon X – Greg Pak
– I’m a huge fan of Greg Pak. His Planet Hulk is phenomenal and I love Totally Awesome Hulk.  So I was intrigued by this team book featuring Domino, Lady Deathstrike, Warpath, Sabretooth and Old Man Logan being hunted by deadly, shape shifting assassin robots sent by the reformed Weapon X program which is now looking to eradicate all former members of the program.  Lots of fun with this eclectic and volatile team.

Archie 1 Archie 2
That Archie comics reboot by Mark Waid and Fiona Staples
– I was curious about this because I love Mark Waid, and I’m a mild fan of *some* things Archie (see two entries up).  So I was morbidly curious how this “reboot” was going to be handled.  And it’s pretty great.  It’s much in the same vein as the CW Riverdale series, but this comic reboot came first in 2015, so I guess the 2017 Riverdale took it’s cues from the comic.  I really like how it sort of reinvents Riverdale.  All the characters are great, Betty is adorable, and Veronica is actually not that bad.  In volume 3, we meet Cheryl Blossom and, YIKES, she’s a force to be reckoned with.  Give it a shot, I think you’re gonna like it, unless, of course, you’re horrified they even tried to reboot Archie in any way.

So, those are my favorite books/comics I read in 2018.  There were a lot more I could’ve put on, and normally, right here, I’d put in some honorable mentions.  But I may actually split out the honorable mentions into their own article.  So look for that soon.  And you can see all my ratings/mini reviews for the last two years on my Good Reads account.  Check it out.  Friend me.  I need friends.

Hope you enjoyed this 2018 round up.  Can’t wait to see what this year brings.

My Favorite Movies I Saw in 2018

Posted in movies with tags , , on January 14, 2019 by Paxton

Movie Report

Here we go. Time for one of my patented year end round up reports. No one else is doing stuff like this guys. You can only find it here (that’s me refusing to look at other blogs in the month of January).

Anyway, let’s take a look at the movies I watched this year.  Like every year since 2009, I keep my movie watching log online at Google Spreadsheets.  I’ve also got an account at Letterboxd, I really need to start using it more, but I haven’t really dug in there yet like I’d really like.

The parameters of this list, only movies that were new to me in 2018 are eligible.  No rewatches.  How I structure the list changes from year to year.  This year I think I’ll list out my 5 favorite movies that were released during 2018 and then I’ll list out 5 movies released any year that I saw for the first time in 2018.  Sound good?  Tough.  It’s my list.  Here we go.

Five movies released in 2018


AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR – This should not be a surprise. I’m all in on the MCU and this, being the first part of the culmination of 10 years of these movies, was destined to make it on this list. No further explanation needed.


Peppermint – Some of you may not remember this. It seemed like it was only out for like a week and a half in theaters.  This is a brutal, awesome action revenge movie.  I really enjoyed seeing Garner kick seven different kinds of asses throughout this movie.  Lots of well choreographed action and Garner is just great anyway.  If you haven’t seen this, what are you waiting for?


Mary Poppins Returns – The original Mary Poppins is in my top 2-3 Disney movies of all time. I love that movie. Needless to say, I was a little…reticent…to see this movie considering my history.  Even if I did think that Emily Blunt was a brilliant casting choice.  Well, I needn’t have worried, this movie is bright, fun, charming, sweet and funny.  I loved it and can’t wait to see it again.  I will gladly put this movie on my shelf right next to the original Mary Poppins.


Mission Impossible: FALLOUT – It’s amazing how this series keeps getting better and better.  My personal favorite was/is Ghost Protocol.  But this one, if it’s not at the top yet, could get there pretty soon.  My only problem is that Jeremy Renner’s character was absent without any explanation.  That aside, this is a pretty great sequel.  I just love this franchise and hope it can continue with the same quality it has since the third installment.


INCREDIBLES 2 – This movie was released, talked about, then it seems to have been just forgotten.  I know this past summer/fall was busy, but, this was a really great sequel that I thoroughly enjoyed.  I need to see it again, but I remember liking it as much as the original.  I can’t currently speak to that being true, but I had a lot of fun with the movie and I thought it followed up the first one admirably.

And now, movies from any year that I watched for the first time in 2018


I, Tonya – I was surprised how much I enjoyed this movie.  Margot Robbie is a force of nature.  I love Margot Robbie in most anything I’ve seen her in and I think this is my favorite performance of hers to date.  And Allison Janney as her mother is *also* a force to be reckoned with.  And Sebastian Stan as her boyfriend is also great.  Just a great cast all around and so much fun to watch Robbie chew up the scenery as infamous skater bad girl, Tonya Harding.


Train To Busan – I don’t like zombie movies. I think I’ve made that clear on this blog.  There are a few exceptions; Return of the Living Dead, Zombieland…and now, this movie.  Clever premise, clever location, and lots and lots of characters we learn to love, fighting off zombies.  A plague unexpectedly strikes and a group of people on a train to Busan have to fight off zombies that want to kill them and also look out for anyone that is infected suddenly turning into a viscous zombie.  I can’t recommend this one enough.  Thank you Evan Hansen and the Mystery Movie Night podcast for having me watch it.


Den of Thieves – This was also a surprise.  I remember this in theaters, and I wanted to see it but just never got around to it.  When it hit Redbox I snapped it up and, BAM, this movie kicks all kinds of ass.  Dark, complicated crime drama.


Molly’s Game – This movie is great.  It has a great premise, and a great cast.  Chastain plays Molly, a former Olympic skier that gets injured and is forced into a change of profession.  She falls into the underground world of poker.  Jessica Chastain is great in whatever she’s in, but she’s particularly strong in this.  And even Michael Cera came with his A-Game.  Aaron Sorkin is usually a go for me.  Just all around, this is a strongly written and acted movie.


Coco – This is such a great movie.  Sweet, wildly inventive, and full of heart.  So many great characters and the running theme of family is just so sweet.  I love the design of the land of the dead.

Those are my favorite movies I watched for the first time last year.  Pretty strong group if you ask me.

Stay tuned, my favorite book/comic reads of 2018 is coming up next.

Batman Redemption – Creating a brand new Tim Burton Batman sequel

Posted in Batman, movies with tags , , , on April 30, 2018 by Paxton

Back in January, the SequelQuest Podcast did a whole show where they brainstormed ideas for a third Tim Burton Batman movie.  It’s a good idea for an episode that led to some interesting discussions and went in a few places I didn’t expect.  It got me to think.  And think some more.  I started to have my own ideas of what a third Burton Batman film would look like so I organized my thoughts in order to write them down.

I started talking with CT about this a while ago and we decided to sort of do this together.  I would put my ideas up here and he’d put his over on Nerd Lunch.  I don’t know a lot about his idea, I’ve only gotten small bits and pieces so I’m excited to hear what he has to say, but before you head on over there, let’s take a look at my ideas.

Before crafting a new Burton Batman movie, there are things to consider.  Do you ignore the Schumacher films and create your new Burton film back in the mid 90s?  Or do you have Burton create the film now revisiting his characters from the 80s-90s?  I think CT went with the former.  I’m going with the latter.

For my story idea, this movie would be released in modern day.  The events in this movie would be a sequel to Batman Returns and ignore both Batman Forever and Batman & Robin.  I’d love to get most of the crew from the 1989 movie to return with Burton.  Michael Keaton would return to the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman.  Danny Elfman would score.  Obviously I’d love to go back to Anton Furst to redesign his “Hell on Earth” Gotham City but unfortunately he died back in 1991.  No slight to Sam Hamm or Warren Skaaren (who died back in 1991), but I think I’d like to get newer, more modern writers to translate my ideas to the silver screen.  Maybe the Duffer Brothers (Stranger Things) would be a good nostalgically modern choice for writers. 

All that being said, let’s talk about my story idea.  The title of my project is Batman Redemption.

Like I said, the story takes place modern day.  Keaton is an older Batman.  He is wrestling with the fact that he doesn’t want to be Batman anymore.  He finds he’s losing interest in the constant fight and bandaging old wounds.  Alfred is dead.  Selina Kyle has either died, or she dies in the cold open of the movie.  Bruce is essentially alone being Batman and living in Wayne Manor.  He decides that it may be time to retire.  He’s just not sure how to do that.  He’s rudderless.  He goes through the motions of running patrols in the evenings.  He doesn’t know what Gotham looks like, or Bruce Wayne, for that matter, post Batman.  

Suddenly, a rash of violent crimes start occurring.  Unexplained crimes.  Crimes that have a familiar look and feel.  Clown based crimes.  It sort of shocks Bruce out of his melancholy.  He suddenly has a purpose.  Is the Joker back?  Is there a copycat?  Bruce obsessively studies the crimes looking for clues.  Without Alfred there to rein him in Bruce pushes himself to the limit trying to figure out if this is the real Joker or not.  It couldn’t be possible though, right?  The Joker died.  He fell from the top of Gotham Cathedral.

Joker death

We get to see a lot of Bruce Wayne in a scarf and trench coat, walking the streets of Gotham like we saw him do so many times in the 1989 Batman movie.  He’ll go to Gotham Library and start looking at old newspaper headlines on a bunch of microfiche film.  Then back to walking the wet streets of Gotham.  While all of this is going on the clown crimes continue.  On one of Bruce’s sojourns he comes face to face with Nicholson’s Joker.  He’s back.  Bruce is caught flat footed. “Jack? You’re dead!”  The Joker maniacally answers, “Sorry, Batsy, the man who laughs lives and I’m back to put a bee in that little bat bonnet of yours! HAHAHAHAHA!”  Bruce is swarmed by creepy clown mimes and starts to fight back until he realizes he’s Bruce, not Batman, and out in broad daylight, so he stops fighting. The clown mimes clear out and Bruce is again alone on the streets.  

The Joker begins establishing himself as the new crime boss of Gotham.  We see him pulling off murderous pranks, killing city officials. All the kooky antics we remember from 1989.  We see his hideout in the old abandoned Axis Chemicals building. We make sure to focus a lot on the Joker and his thugs as they run rampant through the Gotham criminal underworld.  We see Joker joy buzzer electrocuting and whoopie cushion exploding all the crime bosses in Gotham who refuse to follow him.  Lots of kooky kills for Joker, including killing his own crew when he feels they’re “cooling off his casserole”.  There will be lots of random, weird metaphors by Joker.

Meanwhile Bruce is baffled how Jack could be back.  Bruce has to go out as Batman and track down the cops who worked the morgue that night the Joker died, trying to pin down what exactly happened after he fell off the tall, gothic church.  Bruce discovers that Joker’s body actually disappeared sometime after it had been taken to the Gotham City Morgue but the disappearance was kept silent.  Batman confronts Gordon about it, but discovers he didn’t know either.  All the while, Batman is constantly mocked by Joker at every turn.  Bruce continues to be one step behind him.

Bruce pieces together some things but remains unsure of the whole story of Joker’s return.  He has a few more run ins with the Joker and eventually finds himself captured by the Clown Prince of Crime and awakes inside his headquarters.  It’s here, through an elaborate flashback, we learn what actually transpired that night as Joker can finally “reveal it all” to Batman.  We see the final minute or so of the original Batman 1989 climax scene, Joker’s fall, then the pan out of the “dead” Joker with the laugh machine.  Then, the camera, stops, and pans back down closing in on Joker as we see mysterious men enter the frame and drag the Joker’s body away.  These mysterious men keep him alive as they take him to a secluded building on the outskirts of Gotham where he is prepped for travel.  

Back in Gotham PD headquarters, officials in the morgue on Joker’s new benefactor’s payroll place a body double in the drawer with paperwork saying it’s the Joker.  There is so much going on that no one is able to double check.  Then later, the appearance of Penguin and Catwoman would further obscure the body switch from the proper authorities. 

Meanwhile, Joker’s actual body is again transported, this time to a secluded temple in the middle of nowhere.  At this point Joker is still alive, but only barely.  He meets a very beautiful but severe looking woman surrounded by a bunch of scary looking thugs.  The woman introduces herself as Talia (played by Eva Green). 

She has a proposition for Joker.  He’s dying.  Quickly.  But she can save him, if and only if, he helps her with a little problem she’s having.  Joker agrees because he’s got nothing else to lose at this point, so Talia’s men carry Joker over to what looks like a hot spring filled with a softly glowing sludge.  He at first is scared, worried they are throwing him into radioactive waste, but once submerged in the glowing sludge, the “pit” begins reviving him.  Joker comes out of the pit whole, and possibly even a little crazier than he was going in.  Talia explains that her father has plans for him.  Joker asks, “Do they involve a certain 6 foot Bat in Gotham City?” Talia just smiles. Cut to a shot of Joker laughing maniacally.

Ultimately, the climax is Batman fighting Joker and Talia.  Batman learns during the climax that it was Talia who ordered Selina’s death and it was Joker who killed her.  The climax may even take place in the aforementioned secluded temple with the Lazarus Pit, which I don’t plan on even mentioning by name.  It’ll be just “the pit”.  I imagine at some point, while fighting Talia, that Batman will be flung into the pit.  Batman doesn’t know what it is either, so he quickly climbs out.  The quick submersion, though, winds up reviving him and helping him to win the climatic battle.  The submersion in the pit would also renew his passion for being Batman and continuing the fight against evil. 

Ra’s al Ghul is a presence, but will essentially be the Darth Sideous of this movie.  We may not even see him.  At the most, we would get a quick scene of him talking to his daughter.  Maybe.  At the end of the movie Joker is defeated and more than likely killed.  Again.  Talia will escape to possibly return in another sequel.

And that’s my Tim Burton Batman sequel. Talia seemed like the perfect “Burton babe” to use in this sequel. Plus I wanted to bring back Joker and the Lazarus Pit is the perfect way to do that. Hope you enjoyed this pitch, remember, head on over to Nerd Lunch to check out CT’s pitch called Batman Continues.

Countdown to Avengers 3: Thor Ragnarok review

Posted in comic books, movies with tags , , , on April 19, 2018 by Paxton

It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since the Marvel Cinematic Universe began. And here we are, along with Robert from To the Escape Hatch and CT on Nerd Lunch doing a third “Countdown to Avengers” series. AND, we are joined by a new blogger, Jay from Life vs. Film. You can check out the start of this series with Robert’s post about Avengers: Age of Ultron.  Robert, Jay, CT and I are all splitting the films up in anticipation of May’s Avengers: Infinity War. With this film and next year’s Avengers 4, the expectation is that we will be done on some level with this iteration of the MCU.  But I doubt it’ll go away completely. If you want to check out my last review in this series, it was for Captain America: Civil War. Now, let’s turn to my next review, Thor Ragnarok.

Like last time, let’s start off with my quick takes on the first two Thor movies.  First off, I read comics in the 80s and 90s.  I never really liked Thor as a character.  He just never honestly seemed to click with me.  That being said, I really like that first movie.  There’s not really a lot going on, but Hemsworth is great as Thor.  Hiddlesworth is good as Loki (he doesn’t become *great* until Avengers).  Portman is good as Jane and Kat Dennings is almost a show stealer as Darcy.  It’s fun to see Hemsworth playing “fish out of water” on Earth but we get precious little of Asgard.  The movie is mostly enjoyable and a good intro to MCU Thor.  If nothing else, the movie got me reading the Thor comics right about the time Jason Aaron started writing them and *that* has made me a huge fan of Thor.  Check out my full review of Thor for the very first Countdown to Avengers back in 2012.

thor_movies

Thor: The Dark World has its flaws.  It tries to do too much and in the process squanders one of Thor’s best villains, Malekith the Accursed.  Hemsworth is still great as Thor.  We see Hiddleston in his post-Avengers awesomeness.  Portman is a problem and obviously doesn’t really even want to be there.  Kat Dennings brings more Darcy and she’s a delight.  There’s a lot more humor in this movie than I remember whenever I see it, but ultimately the movie is cluttered, hard to follow and doesn’t really seem to go anywhere.  So while I was okay with the Thor movies they had put out so far, I was ready for them to try something new.  This Thor has lots of potential as he’s great in the team up movies, but his solo efforts have been only okay.

When announcements started coming out about Thor Raganarok it was clear they were going in a different direction.  A New Zealand director, Cate Blanchett as the villain, a bright color palate and a humorous tone that seemed to have been clearly inspired by the success of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies.  I was okay with all of this.  Chris Hemsworth has proven he can be funny.  He has the timing.  And Thor can be funny.  The aforementioned Jason Aaron’s run on Thor is infused with lots of humor and takes Thor in a more cosmic direction which it looks like this movie wants to do.  So I was all on board with what they were trying to do.  And that first trailer just ROCKED.

thor-ragnarok-3

The movie 100% delivers.  They *nailed* the tone perfectly for me.  I know many people said there was too much humor, but I don’t agree.  The humor was great and *everyone* got to have their moments.  Not just Thor.  Hulk was funny, Valkyrie, Loki, hell, a brand new character, Korg, practically stole the movie.  I loved every bit of this lightened up Thor.

Loki returns and is awesome once again.  We even get some really nice scenes between on screen brothers, Thor and Loki.  Hemsworth and Hiddleston really work well together.  I’ll be sad if/when this particular pairing ends.

What about the big bad, Hela?  She is as awesome as I wanted her to be.  Cate is the best anyway, so to see her really chew up the scenery here I loved it.  Actually, I could have done with *more* Hela.  Like, this movie maybe could have been split into two movies, with the Grandmaster/Hulk parts in one movie and the Hela parts in another.  But that’s a minor quibble.  We get so much awesomeness throughout this movie….The Grandmaster!  What can I say about how awesomely weird Jeff Goldblum is as Grandmaster?  So good.  And I like *this* Hulk.  He can talk and have a bit of a conversation.  And he’s funny.  I can’t say enough how on point I think the tone of this movie was.  I think I liked it better than the Guardians movies.

Wrapping up the movie, we see the Asgardians leaving to start New Asgard.  Thor is king and ready to lead his people, sans hammer.  I’m hoping we get to see Thor wield his battle axe, Jarnbjorn, in Infinity War.  Even if only for a little bit.  Loki has made off with the cosmic cube again and it looks like Thor may be the first hero to actually have an interaction with Thanos, or Thanos’ people.  I can’t wait to see this Thor meet up with the Guardians.  So much fun potential coming up in Infinity War.  I can’t wait.

But I’m not the only one who had thoughts on this movie. Here are some quick thoughts from CT:

This movie was for Thor and Hulk what Civil War was for the rest of the MCU characters (sans GotG). It further alters the status quo and makes big shocking changes for Thor that will have to affect him in some way moving forward.

If this movie did anything wrong, it was how it wiped out the Warriors Three so effortlessly. It would have been nice to see them get a few more moments to shine. Hopefully Lady Sif’s absence means she’s still out there able to play a role in a future MCU installment someday.

Hulk finally advances to a level I’ve always wanted to see on screen–that of the talking brute who doesn’t want to become Banner. The TV show and previous movies have made a point of playing up that Banner doesn’t want to be the Hulk, but until now, we’ve really not seen that Hulk doesn’t want to be Banner.

Loki promises to be a big player in Infinity War having clearly saved the Cosmic Cube. This movie ends with a clear set up for an early encounter between Thanos and New Asgard. Hopefully these refugees don’t have worse luck after this meeting with the Mad Titan.

Movie Novelizations that should exist Part II: The Canon Ninja Trilogy

Posted in Uncategorized on April 17, 2018 by Paxton

So, as you know, I love movie novelizations.  I read them. I collect them.  I review them.  I talk about them on a podcast.  I love reading and talking about novelizations with people.  It gives me joy.  Being so steeped in novelization lore, there are times I’ll be digging through book stacks at a used store looking for novelizations and see something that makes me say, “THAT got a novelization?!”  Then I stare at this oddball movie novelization and wonder why *that* got a novelization but not some other cult movie I’m very fond of.  It happens more than you think.

It’s at these times that I lament these missing novelizations and so I decide that they *have* to exist so I need to create them myself.  Well, I need to create the cover, I don’t actually go out and write the novelization.  However, I won’t lie, the thought of actually writing a novelization *has* crossed my mind.  Shawn Robare and I have talked about it several times.  I’d totally do it for something like Young Guns or Krush Groove.

Anyway, back to the covers.  One of the very first novelization covers I created myself was for Young Guns II.  I did it with the aforementioned Shawn Robare who created the novelization for the first Young Guns movie.  We had so much fun planning out those covers and also creating vintage Young Guns trading cards that I wanted to do more.

Then I created the cover to a Krush Groove novelization which was pretty dope.

Then, in the official first installment of this “Should Exist” series, I created Mario Puzo Superman novelizations as well as Breakin’ novelizations.  These continue to be really fun to do, guys.  I want to make more.

I actually made a bunch of these covers but I’ve been lax about putting them out there.  Well, a few days ago, a few of us over on Twitter were bandying about as we are want to do and we created a bunch of faux novelization covers on the fly.  CT over at Nerd Lunch created a pretty awesome Xanadu cover.  And someone requested that we do a Ninja III novelization.  Funnily enough, I already had plans to do that one so I cobbled it together.  Here it is.

Ninja 3 - The Domination movie novelization 2

I love this movie and I really wanted to do it justice. I picked Norma Fox Mazer as the author because she had written the Supergirl novelization the same year as Ninja III was released, 1984.  I figured, strong female protagonist in both, Mazer would be great.  If Mazur is too busy my second choice would be Leonore Fleischer, the queen of the movie novelizations.

Now, as I finished this I realized, I’m going to have to do the entire Canon Ninja Trilogy, right?  There’s no getting around it.  So my wheels started turning.  I started thinking that I wanted all three covers to…somewhat…match.  But does that make sense?  The previous movies came out in 1981 and 1983, so how could they really look similar?  Then I started thinking about Friday the 13th.

Back in 1986, Simon Hawke novelized Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.  That novelization was popular enough that the studio commissioned him to go back and novelize the first three movies in the franchise.  So Parts I and II were novelized for the first time in 1987 and Hawke re-novelized Part III as well (it was the only film that had been novelized previously).  So, using this model, I decided that Canon was very happy with the novelization that Mazur turned in for Ninja III, so they commissioned her to go back and novelize the first two movies as well; Enter the Ninja and Revenge of the Ninja.  And here they are.  Click to see either of these bigger.

Ninja 1 - Enter the Ninja movie novelization Ninja 2 - Revenge of the Ninja movie novelization

And the plan is that they’d all be released around the same time which would mean they all get matchy-matchy covers and this would also publicize the older movies a bit as well.  And as you see, I wanted to play up the fact that these are all part of a “series”, so I added the Ninja I and II titles.

And here is the full set of Canon Ninja Trilogy movie novelizations in all of their glory.  Click it to see it BIGGER!

CanonNinjaTrilogy01-black

I have more of these to come. So stay tuned.