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"Making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."

~Ephesians 5:16

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Avengers Assemble 'The Avengers Protocol' Review

Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes was one of Marvel's greatest toons. Some might even call it the best. (The only real competition is X-Men and Spider-Man.) So when it was announced that it would be cancelled so Marvel could have a 'clean slate' for animated programs, it caused a great uproar. The Surtur sub plot, the major arc of Season 2, would never be finished. Many were biased against Assemble from the start cause it was replacing EMH. To calm everyone, it was said that it would be in the same continuity as EMH. I highly doubt that was in the original plan, but we'll never know. The trailer came and wowed people, the animation looked really good and more 'traditional.' Sadly it appeared to be similar in tone with Ultimate Spider-Man, which too looked good in the beginning. (And you saw how that turned out.) Based on marketing an promotion, Assemble used the film's atmosphere and characters. It's basically something for people who saw last year's movie to hop aboard. It gives the illusion that it's in the same universe. So do we have a quality show or a shameless cash-in to the movie? Despite marketing pointing to the latter, it's actually very fun.

The story takes place a few years after for some odd unexplained reason the Avengers disbanded. The Red Skull is back, and has MODOK on his side. Iron Man decides to launch the 'Avengers Protocol,' re-gathering Earth's Mightiest Heroes. A lot of things happen during the forty minutes, which includes Cap supposedly dying and Red Skull stealing Tony's armor and becoming the Iron Skull. First off, I like how bold the premiere starts. Cap gets picked off early on, sending a shock to the viewer. We obviously know he's not dead, but it's still an interesting way to start off. It's obvious this series is taking a less serious approach in hopes of trying to mimic the film's and Ultimate Spider-Man's atmosphere. It surprisingly works, it isn't too comical like USM, yet has enough comedy fans and newcomers can have fun with. Hulk's banter with Thor every Avenger nevers gets old. I'm really glad they stayed with his EMH personality as opposed to the film's. Character portrayals are pretty solid for the most part. Tony Stark's voice sounded off in the beginning, but it grows on you over the course of 40 minutes. (People didn't like his EMH voice either at first.) The only questionable character is the Black Widow. Her personality doesn't match the film's, EMH's or even the comics. She's actually sometimes annoying.

Red Skull is the primary antagonist of the premiere, and looks to be a recurring force. It's a pretty decent portrayal, about on par with EMH's. The big thing is him taking the Iron Man armor from Tony. It's a pretty dramatic scene that had an amazing amount of tension. Now dubbed 'Iron Skull,' he made some modifications to the look, which was great. It's good to see the show taking some unique routes. The action is pretty solid. I will admit the teasing of a true Hulk/Thor fight is kinda sad, but oh well. The animation is more traditional than EMH. Most people really didn't like the animation of the previous show at first, but overtime it grew on them. Much like from the Spectacular Spider-Man to Ultimate, Assemble looks more like a 'normal' toon, much like Justice League or X-Men. It looks good, not quite as much as the aforementioned shows, but solid.

Avengers Assemble Is off to a very good start. It successfully captures the fun atmosphere of the movie without sinking to Ultimate Spider-Man level of comedy. Characters, aside from Black Widow, are great as always. The story nicely sets things up for the coming episodes. Avengers 2 comes out in two years, so let us enjoy this fun show in the meantime.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Ultraman Manga: Chapter Fifteen Review

At this point, the Ultraman manga is one of the mote intriguing reads out there. Longtime fans, especially watchers of the original series, will get the most out of it. The previous chapter was one of the biggest, showing off a huge fight between Shinjiro and Alien Adacic. It ended with Shin eradicating the alien. The cliffhanger promised great things to come. After such an action-packed chapter, this breather was expected. While incredibly short, this installment does have some interesting plot developments.

Ito and Z-Ton are having a discussion on the recent alien activity while Moroboshi confronts Shin on what being an Ultraman is. Despite being only 15 pages, a lot of good stuff is covered. The entire opening with Z-Ton and and Ito had me glued to the screen. It's more foreshadowing than revealing, but there's enough good mystery in the dialogue keeping the reader engaged. Then we have the next scene, revolving around Shin and Moroboshi. These two make for an interesting dynamic since they're so vastly different. The 'big' thing is the ending, where Moroboshi shows Shin a city within a building. It's not the most satisfying cliffhanger, but it is interesting. The art is alright, this chapter suffers from a lack of detail in the faces.

Overall, a light but very intriguing chapter in the Ultraman manga. I like how nicely the story is coming along. This installment foreshadows and reveals some very interesting things. What is this inner-city? The plot keeps bringing in the surprises.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Exactly One Year Until GODZILLA Stomps into Theaters!

Wow, here we are. In one year from now, the King of the Monsters comes to theaters worldwide. It's a pretty surreal thought for a big fan such as myself. I mention Godzilla in one way or another every day, I've seen all the films. The thought of actually going into a theater and actually seeing him on the big screen is a pretty amazing thing. It had a few rough patches among development. Believe it or not, it was originally supposed to come out in 2012. Pretty insane, eh? For awhile there was virtually no news and people thought it would never come to be. Last year's Comic Con was big, because it unveiled a poster, release date, and teaser. (Which for some odd reason still hasn't been uploaded online.) Slowly the ball got rolling. Casting came later, and they're currently filming. It looks like the movie will be here in time for his 60th anniversary after all!

Godzilla getting the big screen treatment means a lot of cool things. For one thing, we can expect plenty of merchandise. How awesome would it be to walk into Wal-Mart and see some G shirts? A DVD section? A watch? And all the new fans which will come out of the cinema. The Avengers made the general public superhero fans, GODZILLA can and hopefully will do the same. This year will be important, because we can expect a trailer, more posters, a website, and marketing. Contrary to popular belief, Godzilla is a household name, you'll be hard-pressed to find someone who didn't know the monster. The 98 film did leave a stain on the franchise, but that was over a decade ago. This new film will wash that away.

I'm confident Gareth Edward's will deliver a film of quality and worthy of the Godzilla name. It's been said countless times already that it will be in the spirit of the original, so we can expect a dark movie. That won't stop it from having monster action of course, since we'll be having two other kaiju. The countdown begins!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Ultraman Manga: Chapter Fourteen Review

This chapter in the Ultraman manga could be the biggest yet. It's also one of the longest, coming in at 33 pages. The previous chapter had Shinjiro confront Alien Adacic. The latter managed to catch our hero off guard by making him think if he really was Ultraman. It took some kind words from Rena (supposedly an up-and-coming love interest) to get him back in action. This chapter ends Volume 2 on a high note. Great dialogue, awesome fight, and more foreshadowing of what's to come.

Here we have Shinjiro ready for action. Alien Adacic is taken aback by this situation and presides to put an end to Ultraman. Meanwhile Alien Z-ton talks to Ito about 'wrapping this up.' And finally...looks like there are bigger things at work there. It took a long time, but I can safely say Shinjiro is making for a fine protagonist. In this chapter we see him talking back to Alien Adacic with style. There's also a human side thanks to the thinking boxes. It gives us insight into how Shin is feeling about the current situation, something I don't think that's been fully explored in past Ultraman shows. Alien Adacic has some of the best dialogue, he's mean and humorous at the same time. It's a shame he's gone now, I would have liked some more appearances.

The fight is appropriately climatic and epic. There's beams and some melee for good measure. Rena gets another appearance, and once again she's does nothing to impress me. The art is pretty strong. Granted, the fight could have had a little more detail, but no true problem. Alien Adacic looked really creepy and deranged in some panels, props to that. Even more so a shame we probably won't be seeing him again.

Overall, a blockbuster chapter. It has it all, emotion, a big fight, and a fantastic ending. While it may have started off simple this manga is getting bigger now. With Bemular making a return soon, the story will be heating up even more.


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Iron Man 3 Review

Iron Man 3 is the first major disappointment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's not a bad movie, but it's not exactly as high tier as the first one and barely (maybe not even) beats the second. It got hype for four primary reasons. One, it was going to be the third Robert Downy Jr. starred Iron Man film. Two, it was going to be the first MCU film after The Avengers. Three, it was going to feature the Extremis storyline. And finally was finally going to feature Iron Man's greatest enemy from the comics, the Mandarin. Well it's fair to say the trailer gave a false presentation. Remember the scene with the armor grabbing Pepper? Thought the story was going to feature sentient armor? That's not a plot point at all. That aside, the film falls apart primarily thanks to the plot twist.

The prologue is admittedly very good. I love how it ties back to the first movie. It keeps a concurrent continuity and adds a rich backstory. It was something else seeing Yinsen again, definitely a great way to start out. Soon we head back to modern day where Tony has developed a way to 'summon' the armor to him. A fine invention, but can he handle the Mandarin's terror? Tony Stark spends most of his time out of armor, in fact, there's hardly any big action with him inside. Surprisingly Iron Man 2 had more satisfying action. But that's not the movie's main problem, it's the 'antagonist.' The big plot twist of movie is the realization that the man whom calls himself the Mandarin is actually not.

It's fair to say that the early scenes of the TV showing the ten rings symbol was pretty intense and well done. The Mandarin was portrayed perfectly as a terrorist threat. With lines such as "Some people call me a terrorist. I consider myself a teacher," he was turning out to be the greatest Iron Man film villain and one of the most memorable comic book movie antagonists. The scenes on the TV with his followers wiping out people felt real and gave you a bad feeling inside.

Then everything went out the window.

Let me ask you a question. Is it possible for a plot twist to be unexpected but not good? Or perhaps satisfying is the correct word. Nobody was expecting the Mandarin was actually just an actor named Trevor. This fake Mandarin is portrayed by Ben Kingsly, whom was doing a fantastic job as the antagonist in the beginning. But after the plot twist he becomes nothing but the biggest joke of the whole MCU. The acting is so over-the-top and not funny. Sure, one could argue this plot twist wouldn't matter to non-comic readers. But the fact remains that the screwed up Iron Man's greatest adversary. And I thought the worst enemy relationship between Red Skull and Cap in The First Avenger wasn't established that well. Here it's virtually nothing. We've waited three films for this, so that was a very disappointing factor.

Robert Downy Jr. once again plays the quirky Tony Stark. One might question him not knowing about the pistols Rhodey gave him, but other than that he steals the show once again. It was also nice to see a more 'human' side to him when it came to Pepper. Guy Pearce portrays Aldrich Killian, the true antagonist. He couldn't be more generic or dull. Sadly he is definitely the least memorable villain of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Extremis part of the story worked for the most part. It was rather disappointing that the trailer made everyone think the armor would gain sentience, false advertising at his finest. We also have returning star Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts. She has a pretty good role throughout, not to mention the awesome moment where she completely beat up Killian. Jon Favreau (director of the previous two films!) as Happy Hogan was definitely a highlight, despite only a few appearances. Don Cheadle returns as James Rhodes, aka War Machine. Definitely a fun character to have around, especially next to Stark. Then there's this kid called Harley. There really wasn't much point to him, not to mention the acting was pretty sub-par.

There were some pretty intense action-themed special effect sequences. The destruction of Tony's mansion was powerful. The finale isn't bad. I can't say it was as satisfying as any of the other MCU films. The soundtrack is pretty good, nothing special but alright. Something I do like is how the movie references The Avengers but doesn't go overboard like with the second entry. It has just a nice sprinkle of them with the best being when Happy called them the 'Super Friends.'

Overall, Iron Man 3 is what I call a true 'disappointment.' It's by no means a bad movie,  it is enjoyable, but it's no where near the level of the first film. The true antagonist is unmemorable, and for longtime comic fans the Mandarin will be forever ruined. There's surprisingly little Iron Man action and the climax, while not bad, wasn't the greatest. I can only hope now that Marvel doesn't strike out with Thor and Cap.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Ultraman Manga: Chapter Thirteen Review

Here we are with Chapter Thirteen of the Ultraman Manga. The previous installment took a break from the action to focus on Officer Endo and his partner. At the end we saw our hero come crashing down onto Rena's car. The antagonist right now is this Alien that looks strangely like Baltan. Why you ask? It turns out this guy is a Baltan mutation, rejected by his own species. So he is a Baltan, just not fully. Sadly it doesn't look like that'll be revealed in-story, you have to actually purchase Volume 2 or for those that don't understand Japanese check out the wiki. With that aside, we can talk about the chapter now. It has plenty of manga melodrama, but features some of the best writing the story has seen. Alien Not-Baltan (his real name is Alien Adacic) with this chapter is proving to be the book's best antagonist, right up there with Bemular.

So we have Alien Adacic questioning Shinjiro of who he really is. Shin is taken off guard by the alien's words and starts to wonder if he can really be Ultraman. It takes some kind words from Rena to get him back in action. The stage is set for another epic battle. Alien Adacic has the best lines by far. He shows Shin the destruction he has caused by following him. It's a great dynamic as he realizes the destruction caused with that and being slowly manipulated by the alien whom constantly refers to him as 'newbie.' Besides that it's the usual stuff you can expect, heavy drama of the main hero wondering if he's good enough, but after hearing the words of a girl realizes what needs to be done. Rena goes from awful fangirl to supporter. She's still pretty much the most generic female love interest I've ever seen in a manga, this chapter didn't help or destroy matters. I need to see what else she can do. The art is strong, there are quite a few scenes that make Alien Adacic look absolutely fantastic and a little deranged.

Overall, this is definitely a strong chapter. Alien Adacic has the best dialogue, I'm hoping he stays around for awhile. There isn't too much physical action, but that's okay since there's plenty of mental action. Rena still isn't anything special. The main thing accomplished is Shin realizing that he is Ultraman. The next chapter should be another 'epic' one.