Tag Archives: Marvel Comics

The Sorcerer Supreme… Doctor Strange (2016)

doctor-strange-teaserThis was a film I was a bit hesitant on…  Not because of Benedict or the cast or the ramifications of placement in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but just because it was Doctor Strange.  Now granted, those were the same feelings I had about the original “Iron Man” back in 2008, the film which of course kicked off Phase One… Why?  ‘B’ tier character on the big screen.

For all the magic that Marvel has woven over the last eight years, there is bound to be a hiccup at some point (or, as it known in geekdom circles… a DC-like event) however this psychedelic romp through the inner-cosmos wasn’t it.  Marvel has made a great success of their ‘B’ Tier line-up while stalwarts such as X-Men, The Fantastic Four and Spider-Man (until this lastest re-boot of the re-boot) have suffered… but this was Doctor Strange.  For many moons, Johnny Depp was penciled in as “negotiating” for the title role, however I think Benedict and his Cumberbitches did an excellent job bringing the vivid and resourceful Sorcerer to brilliant Technicolor as did the well-rounded supporting cast who shine beyond the sometimes cardboard dialogue (and No, I don’t have a problem with the Ancient One being a Celtic woman).

The film embodies the acid-tripping, Beatlesesque mind expanding world of the late 1960’s that Doctor Strange traveled in the pages of “Strange Tales” (alongside Bondian 60’s Icon Nick Fury) and that is what makes it work.  Sure, it could have been Marvel invades Hogwarts and been just terrible, but luckily for us there is still some originality coursing through Marvel Films (even if none of it rubs off on the X-Men Fox franchise).  Updated for modern times, little is lost in translation which is a hallmark of the greater MCU as the script is fluid combining great elements of the visual as well as the subtly comedic (even if a spot or two seemed a bit forced).

Strange Tales

Now, I’m a little off put by the inner MCU timeline as Stephen Strange was previously referred to in “The Winter Soldier” yet the events of the film unfold AFTER Civil War… oh well.  It’s also good to know, thanks to the dual post credit scenes *Semi-Spoiler Alert* that the Sorcerer Supreme will be making multiple future appearances other than just the forthcoming Avengers Super-Duper-Super Friends sequels of Avengers 3 & 4 or “Infinity War” also known as “How to Snuff Out DC and kick them while their down”.

See it in 3D.  Popcorn, SnoCaps and no bathroom breaks!

4 Stars

 

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Battle of the Heavyweights

From Yahoo:

Marcus Goh is a Singapore television scriptwriter. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. He Tweets/Instagrams at Optimarcus and writes at marcusgohmarcusgoh.com. The views expressed are his own.

The iconic superweapon from Star Wars has to be the Death Star, a moon-sized orbiting space station with a literal death ray attached to it. A single blast is all it takes to destroy a planet, and there exists no greater power in the universe.

Unless we’re talking about a multiverse. Other famous planet-destroying entities include Galactus and Unicron, and if all three were to meet in a battle of cosmic proportions, who would win this Royal Rumble? This debate has raged for eons (well, maybe close to three decades) in geekdom, and has been known to cause ferocious flame wars across the Internet. Let’s take a look at our combatants.

Death Star

We’ll take Death Star II (in Return of the Jedi) as our example here, since it’s larger and newer. It measures 160km in diameter, and carries an entire fleet of starships and firepower. Specifically, it has 15,00 heavy and standard turbolaser batteries along with 7,500 laser cannons and 5,000 ion cannons (as stated by Wookiepedia).

Of course, its planet buster is its most deadly weapon, which was used to destroy Alderaan, described as an Earth-like planet. From this we can conjecture that the Death Star is more than capable of destroying anything the size of Earth, and probably more than that given all its additional firepower.

Unicron

Unicron is an evil god from Transformers, who transforms into a devil planet with actual horns. He eats planets, although not by opening his mouth and chomping down on them. There are no definitive sizes for Unicron, so we have to extrapolate it. Unicorn is about the same size as Cybertron (who is actually a Transformer that’s Unicron’s good twin brother), which in the cartoon is about the same size as the Moon, placing it at a diameter of 3,474 km.

In “Transformers: The Movie” (1986), Unicron’s goal is to eat Cybertron, so we can safely assume that he can destroy something the size of the Moon with ease. He has some trouble handling attacks from the Transformers though, with one of his eyes getting shattered during the fight (and another one after his demise), so we know that smaller foes can hurt him. But since he is a deity, it is possible that such attacks mean nothing to him.

The only thing that Unicron fears is the Autobot Matrix of Leadership, but that can only be opened by the Chosen One, who is in all likelihood the current or next Autobot leader.

Galactus

Galactus is a cosmic entity in the Marvel Universe that has to eat planets for sustenance. He’s generally depicted as 18 to 25 metres in height, which makes him tower over virtually anybody else. But he wields a force known as the Power Cosmic, which effectively allows him to do whatever he wants. Since he wants to devour Earth in his first appearance, we can safely say that he can destroy anything Earth-sized with ease.

His only fear is a weapon called the Ultimate Nullifier, which can eliminate any target it chooses, and has been shown to destroy an entire universe. Hence, the only kind of power that could hurt Galactus would weapons that deal damage on a universal scale.

Fight!

So, size-wise, Unicron wins, hands down, followed by the Death Star and then Galactus. But then, since Galactus has the Power Cosmic, he could use it to become larger than the other two, and trump them in the size department.

In terms of sheer power, Galactus would be able to do the most destruction, followed by the Death Star and then Unicron, going by the size of planets that they have attempted to destroy in the past. In all likelihood though, since Galactus and Unicron are both deities, their damage output would be pretty similar. Unicron might have a little bit more trouble handling the starships that the Death Star would send his way, but Galactus is also smaller than say, a Super Star Destroyer, so that might pose some inconvenience as well.

However, in terms of resilience, the Death Star would be the first to go down, since it doesn’t have any specific weaknesses. It’s as vulnerable to conventional attacks as any other planet, and it also has a nasty habit of hiding its planetary shields on nearby moons or have crippling design flaws that allow a well-placed shot to blow it up. So despite its destructive ability, the Death Star can’t take it as well as it can dish it.

Galactus vs Unicron

So it comes down to the two cosmic deities. Since their power level and toughness would be at the same godlike levels, it comes down to whose specific weaknesses are easier to exploit.

Galactus’ Ultimate Nullifier is pretty easy to get a hold of — nearly everyone in the Marvel Universe has held it at one point — and it’s also easy to use, since hardly anyone has trouble activating it. In fact, Galactus is scared off in his very first appearance when Mr Fantastic wields it against him. Kind of shows how conspicuous the Ultimate Nullifer is, eh?

Unicron’s Autobot Matrix of Leadership is a bit more difficult, since it’s usually contained in the chest cavity of the current Autobot leader, who’s usually a formidable giant transforming robot of war. In addition, only the Chosen One can use it, which means that you need to find and convince a specific person (or Transformer) to use it against Unicron. So when it comes to exploiting weaknesses, Unicron has the more difficult one.

Unicron wins!

So there you have it — an evil transforming robot god trumps a celestial force of nature and an orbital space station with a death ray. I’m all ready to be hunted down and drawn and quartered for having proven that Unicron would win, and having added to this endless debate.

Who do you think would win?

 

~In the grand scheme of things…. I agree.  The Death Star, be it version one or two, is a small moon in the hands of these titans of the stars.  Yes, it could unload the planet buster, but I’m sure Unicron and/or Galactus could easily dodge or misdirect it.

Unicron also has the  ability to re-create and re-format matter at least on a small scall as he recreated Megatron and his troops as well as create their ship.  More-so in the comics, he is a God, where as in the cartoon his origin was never given much attention.  For sheer size and power, I still give Unicron the edge as Galactus has often been beaten by the superheroes of Earth with a variety of weapons and ideas where Unicron, even after his destruction in The Transformers: The Movie continued to function in his ‘escape’ pod of a detached head…. and yes, the Autobots needed the Matrix, a calling card of their deity Primus, to do the deed.~

The Art of the Deal… Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012)

Ghost Rider SOV TeaserAnd while the original ‘Ghost Rider’ focused on just that, Ghost Rider, this one focused on the ‘deal’ to be Ghost Rider. Now, up-front, I’ll admit I’m a comic book guy and film buff and this film is not ‘The Dark Knight’, ‘Iron Man’ or even ‘Thor’. However, it isn’t Dolph Lundgren’s version of the Punisher or, luckily, the original ‘Ghost Rider’. (FYI: I saw this film for free at a special engagement Preview.. otherwise, I probably would not have seen it till the DVD or pay cable release.)

‘Spirit of Vengeance’ is a bit more of a reboot than a sequel, and in my estimation better than the original from a comic book standpoint. As a Hollywood flick, it’s simply the same sh!t, different film. The story is recycled from a number of genres, the acting is nothing the Academy need worry about (Nick Cage’s performance was on par for… well, any Cage performance), and some of the action sequences are a bit too herky-jerky for the 3-D, but it isn’t a total loss. The comic lore is advanced a bit (depending on which version of Johnny Blaze / Danny Ketch you want to follow) and even drops hints for returning characters in a possible sequel. Idris Elba does give a fair performance for an underwritten yet prominent character and Christopher Lambert cameos are always fun.
Spirit of Vengeance‘Marvel Knights’ is the mature comic line for Marvel characters and at some point Disney will hand their more adult characters to film makers who understand the difference between making a 90 minute crash’em-up and a story with action. While Punisher: War Zone was almost a step up for ‘Marvel Knights’, this one is a step back. Luckily, it’s only a 90 minute crash’em-up flick and you’ll be on your way to lead a normal, happy life. Bathroom breaks allowed but you probably won’t need it.

2 Stars

“The Avengers Will Assemble!”

Thor teaserAnd no matter what anyone tells you, that is the cold hard fact of this film. As the second to last place setting for next summer’s ‘Avengers’ superhero team-up flick, ‘Thor’ does nicely.

Much in the style of ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ (Damn, I hate that sub-title), the story touches greatly upon the mythos of the title character (obviously more deeply based in Norse mythology) and updates it accordingly. Luckily in this case, for all the simplicity in the story development and character set-up, Kenneth Branagh was at the helm and worked the proper amount of development into both the story and the primary characters.

The script, obviously having a major mythic back-story to draw from, mixing it with the established comic lore and then adding the S.H.I.E.L.D. element and place setting actually moves fairly well. Yes, there are a few slower parts, but this is Norse mythology directed by Kenneth Branagh and it ain’t all gonna’ be on rocket propelled roller-skates. However, this is a Marvel comic book film directed by Kenneth Branagh and you can’t really go wrong.
Donald Blake and his girlWith cast members such as Anthony Hopkins and Natalie Portman you expect a good turn and you certainly get it. A few of the characters are a bit cardboard but the actors do well to keep them believable. Chris Hemsworth fits quite well behind the hammer, playing both sides of the egotistical God of Thunder as well as anyone could play an egotistical God of Thunder. If there was one complaint, much like a Skywalker turned Vader in Episode III, the turn from one side to the other as Thor makes his heroic choice was a bit rushed. Obviously, the clock was ticking and the story needed to move into Act III, but…
Father and SonsAs a place setting for the forthcoming ‘Avengers’ (and if you saw the post end credits teaser scene, a great unknown lead in for Captain America) this film performs and does so far better than Iron Man 2 (whose exit teaser was a place setting for this film). As a stand alone film about Marvel’s Thunder God, it exceeds expectations.

Not quite Comic Book epic, but definitely taking you for the ride. Bring popcorn and no bathroom breaks.

4 Stars

Avengers… ASSEMBLE! Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)

Avengers European posterFifty years ago, that simple phrase ushered in a vision of comic book excitement and sheer imagination. And let there be no doubt, this film lives up to The Avengers storied past.

With a brisk pace, compelling character plot and backed by a motivating Alan Silvestri score, The Avengers is an excellent ‘movie’. It meets the requirements of a Saturday matinée popcorn flick, an action movie and a damned epic comic book film. The dialogue stays fresh while mixing comic relief, drama and Steve Rogers’ archaic sense of civility. Joss Whedon and his staff did a fantastic job of sharing the ‘heavy lifting’ between characters while remaining true to Stan Lee’s original visions.
Loki DemandsMarvel’s answer to DC’s Justice League of America, The Avengers took several of the comic line’s mid-level characters and created Marvel’s first true “Super-Team”. With the Silver-Age revival of Captain America in issue number 4, the Avengers never looked back. This film, the culmination of plot bits and end of credit scenes from Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America (I still don’t get why people left during the credits… ) we finally get the epic telling of Marvel’s most elite team. Sure, many in the comic world will debate who really comprises the best incarnation of Avengers (as they will X-Men), but this assemblage of heroes is it. It harkens back to the Silver Age while keeping a purely modern feel (which propelled Iron Man from background character to comic media sensation in his debut film) for the characters, the story and the idea that such fantasy could indeed seem so real.
Assembly RequiredBelieve me, this is the film that will dictate the future of the comic book film industry… and it is the film that has to make Warner Bros./DC stand-up and take note. Easily the second greatest comic book film of all time, Avengers mixes its comic lore against The Dark Knight’s gritty realism. Marvel, who for years plodded in a non media landscape and survived bankruptcy to give us the Blade Trilogy, Spider-Man, Iron Man only to score the slaughter in 2011 (perhaps thanks to their purchase by Disney) with such summer blockbusters as X-Men: First Class, Thor and Captain America have reached a definite new level of epic storytelling with The Avengers.

The TrioAnd let’s not forget, we still have Iron Man 3, a Captain America sequel and a Thor sequel before we get to the next installment of The Avengers and their previewed antagonist, Thanos (who makes a showing in the surprise hit Guardians of the Galaxy to delay his Infinity Gauntlet appearance, aka Avengers 3 & 4).
ShwarmaReaching comic book epic, grab the popcorn and snow-caps and absolutely no bathroom breaks. And yes, you’ll be seeing it at least twice in the theatres.

5 Stars

Another Iron Man Movie… Iron Man 3 (2013)

Iron Man 3 teaserTo me, this film seemed to have even less to do with the original Iron Man (and the best film of the ‘trilogy’) than Iron Man 2 which barely achieved place mat status. It certainly didn’t do anything to advance the saga of Tony Stark nor did it add a sense of closure or continuity to the recent Avengers storyline. It did however do much more in destroying Pepper Potts as a credible character.

As most Shane Black movies go, it involved Christmas… no wait, that’s not fair. It involved things that get shot and blow-up at Christmas. Making a useless involvement of AIM, the Hydra-esque secret agency which could have been easily folded into the ongoing Marvel film or Television universe, the plot just sank. If the point of the movie was that Stark can survive through his wits, sarcasm and ingenuity, well we established that in the first movie, it’s why he’s Iron Man. Since there are no plans to extend Iron Man into Phase Two or Phase Three in his own solo adventure, let’s hope his involvement in the expanding Avengers universe fares far better than this.
Kingsley MandarinDefinitely a wasted effort for the reliable Downey Jr. in follow-up to the masterful first Avengers film but a total fail for the awesome effort of Sir Ben Kingsley who stole a portion of the film (I can only hope he will return to the Marvel Universe in a future film).

Bring popcorn but a break is allowed.

3 Stars

Did You see the end of ‘Iron Man’..? Iron Man 2 (2010)

French teaser posterGood, cause you just watched the extended version of it. When Tony Stark defeated his formerly trusted ally in the ‘Iron Monger’ armor, I’m fairly certain the next thing he said wasn’t “Boy, I hope I get to fight a whole lot more of those…”.
So let’s see, an arms dealer jealous of Tony Stark, check. A terrorist who covets Tony Starks’ toys and makes a devious deal with the jealous arms-maker, check. Iron-Man fights another Iron-Man type, check. Throw in the ever shag-able Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow and we have a movie.

Black WidowNow, this movie does very little to set itself apart as an installment in a series other than serve as a place setting for the forthcoming ‘Thor’, ‘Captain America’ and a reminder we still have ‘The Avengers’ to look forward to. As a comic book movie, it still makes an OK Saturday matinée popcorn flick and is better than such sequels as ‘Spider-Man 3’ and ‘X-3’.

RASPUTIN

Not quite epic, but no bathroom breaks.

3 Stars