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If your a comic book fan, most likely your also a film fan. And if your like me, you grew up in a time when Superman and Batman had big budgeted films, yet you knew there was so much more to the comic book world then those two. So you dreamed and dreamed how they would make films out of your other favorite characters. We all had a version of a Spider-Man film, an X-Men film or even a Darkhawk film (ok…so I’m alone in that one, I know I am.) It took years, but eventually  they made those movies, and what a time it’s been for us comic book fans! Some of the adaptations were great and are as close as to what I dreamed of for that character, sometimes they made some twist to the characters and the mythology but work amazingly and sometimes they were GIANT fails. So in a way, Captain America was the last great one for me, and like many fans, I had dreamed up a Captain America film.

I wanted it to be to be in World War II. I wanted to see Cap lead armies. I wanted him to fight crazy, ridiculous , not realistic technology.

I think this image from this 1996 comic by John Bryne explains it all for me…

I wanted to see THAT , but as a movie.

So…you have to imagine my excitement when I was watching the Norway sequence of the film.

Outside of the Church, something huge roles up….A. BIG. ASS. TANK.

I squealed  like a little girl in my seat.

And that almost sums up my feeling about the whole film.

It was the Captain America film that I’ve dreamed of since I was 12. A blast of pure enjoyment. A film with a ton of heart. A film that refreshingly has no cynical bone in the it’s body.

It’s no surprise that the director of this was Joe Johnston. His film The Rocketeer (click here about my previous blog post about that film) had the same energy and tone, but I could tell that  he was able to let loose even more on this film. The film was full of style that fits the era, and I could sense the fun Johnston had with this film. German expressionist films for the Red Skull flashback, the recreation of 1930’s serial films for the Captain America “movies” with in the movie, and musicals for the USO scenes. God, do I love the USO montage. It not only is fun and entertaining, but it also helps build the mythology of Captain America, having him be a great national hero before he even truly fights. The action was also fun to watch, and for the first time I truly do get to see the power Captain America does have, as we see how fast, how strong and how agile he is the fight scenes. It truly is spectacular to see Cap in action.

But what would the director be without a strong cast and good characters? He thankfully had  a strong script by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (with some uncredited help from my beloved Joss Whedon) and a fantastic cast.

Chris Evans blew me away here.   The cocky funny guy that Evans is  typically typecast as does not show up. The most important part of the whole film, and my favorite moments in the film, is the first act. Chris is so good in the pre-Cap sequences as Steve Rogers. The film works because how much I love Steve Rogers. Not Captain America mind you, Steve Rogers. The film nailed Steve Rogers as he was note perfect. His good heart, his courage, and his reasons to fight. When Erskine asked him “Do you want to kill Nazis?”, Rogers answer couldn’t have been more perfect.

Ah, and Erskine. Stanley Tucci is so wonderful in this part. His scene with Rogers before the procedure could have been a terribly clunky,filled with exposition. It wasn’t. Tucci played it perfectly, and really selling his relationship with Rogers and his reasoning as to why he picked him, and it makes his eventual faith even more painful when it happens.

Haylee Atwell’s Peggy Carter is…wow. She plays the “Marion” in the film, and she’s  instantly iconic. How could you not fall in love with her? She brings all the appropriate spunk and charisma need for this part, and most important believability.   Her scenes with Pre-Cap Steve were great and you can sense she started to care for him before he got tall and superheroic looking.  Her last scene at the end with Steve over the radio was appropriately heartbreaking and she sells it.

Tommy Lee Jones Col. Phillips is exactly what he needed to be….Tommy Lee Jones as a tough colonel, and he’s great. He’s tough but has a wicked dry sense of humor…the kind of role that Tommy Lee does in his sleep, and it’s perfect for this film. His interrogation scene with Toby Jones Dr.Armin Zola is one of the best uses of Tommy Lee Jones in the film.

The way they used Zola is also fun and unexpected. Zola was portrayed as a brilliant man who was starting to realize he was into deep in something he might not wanted to be in, and Toby Jones brought all the fun and subtle quirks that makes him something a bit more then the main villains toady.

Red Skull may not the most original bad guy, but when your villain is a super Nazi that believes that the Nazis aren’t doing enough then how much character motivation do you need? And for a film that’s as old fashioned as this, you need an old fashion bad guy and Hugo Weaving plays classic bad guy to the “T”. He’s just over the top for this film, and Hugo eats up the scenery with just the right vigor. And my god, the way how the Red Skull LOOKS just like a Jack Kirby drawing is amazing!

There are  times that when I watch a Marvel movie it FEELS like I was watching a MARVEL movie. In Spider-Man 2 when they recreated the SPIDER-MAN NO MORE page. In X-Men when Hugh Jackman first said “Bub.” In Iron Man, seeing him shoot repulsor beams out of his hands. Those are the moments that made me go,”Hey, I AM watching a Marvel movie!” For me it’s seeing the Red Skull perfectly translated from comic to movie that gave me that moment.

Lets not forget the Howling Commandos… though the film DID forget to call them that, hell, the film forgot to even name drop the characters, so there is THAT flaw in the film. That being said, there is a good amount of characterization economy as each actor in the Commandos (Neal McDonough as MOTHERFUCKIN DUM DUM Dugan to Kennith Choi.) does a great job giving each character personality and selling their relationships. My other nitpick is that I would watch a full MOVIE of Captain America and the Howling Commandos, but that’s because I love the montage of them kicking ass so damn much.

One character who IS named is James “Bucky” Barnes.  This is where things get interesting for me. When I used to daydream a Captain America film, I knew I didn’t want to have Bucky in the full costume. I wanted Bucky to be more like Cap’s best friend, not sidekick. No mask, and the name Bucky would be a nickname, not a code name. I didn’t want any Robin comparisons. Well…look what the filmmakers did! Sebastian Stan brings his fair amount charm in the part, and his chemistry with Evans is great. They truly sell that they’ve been friends for years. Also, great seeding of his possible future as the Winter Soldier.

I don’t want leave out Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark. I first saw him in The Devils Double, which he was INCREDIBLE in, and I loved his Howard Stark! It’s fun to see how much Tony Stark must have gotten from his father, and Cooper has fun in the role.

The score by Alan Silvestri  might be one of the best he’s done in years. Evoking all the right emotions, it’s one of the best scores in any of the Marvel Movies thus far, and captures the spirit in all the right ways. Oh, and the Alan Menken’s USO song? Fucking brillant.

I’m going to go into the most spoiler part of the film which is the ending montage.

One of the important things I wanted to see in the film is to see the importance of Captain America to this alternate history. To see the effect of loosing Cap. To sell that there is a bit of tragedy to Captain America’s story.  That montage really nailed it. The way how the Commandos had a toast to their fallen comrade. Howard trying desperately to look for Rogers in the Arctic. Peggy looking at the picture of Steve before he was Cap. That shot of the kid with a homemade Captain America shield. It’s the perfect ending to this film. (Though I do wish the Nick Fury scene was held off AFTER the animated credits)

Simply put, I love this film. I have a huge affection for films that nostalgically look back at this era. I eat this stuff up, and I’m giddy that we got one that I think is so good.

I’m glad the film is doing well in the box office, because it seems like the film is working on the people that want a film about a TRUE hero.

The character in the comics is one of the last real heroes heroes, and he finally has a film that shows us why that can still be a great thing.

 

Yesterday, the website Ain’t It Cool News had a contest. The prize was two free tickets to the screening of the 20th Anniversary of  The Rocketeer at The El Capitan Theater in Hollywood. In order to win, we had to write our memories on seeing The Rocketeer on June, 21, 1991.

I started thinking about the my memories that day and I figured it was worth a shot to enter.

So, here below is my email to Ain’t It Cool News….

“It was 1991, I remember the trailer. The music, the 1930’s era, and most of all….that rocket. The dream of flying was more real to me after seeing the trailer. Superman flew…but I could BE the Rocketeer.

I remember that whole year I couldn’t wait to see The Rocketeer. My older brother, the film buff who shaped me into being a film buff myself, started showing me some 1930’s adventure serials as little cinematic appetizers before I saw the film . King of the Rocketmen (which I loved!) and Radar Men from the Moon (in which I realized that it was the SAME footage as King of the Rocketmen!)

It was THE film for me that year. I used to pretend that my backpack was the rocketpack. I used to have a cheap black helmet that I put on just like Billy Cambell did in the film’s trailer and asked an imaginary Peevy how do I look (I WAS seven…it was ok for me to talk to myself back then…right?) I “flew” all around my house. Fought bad guys. Mind you…this was BEFORE I saw the film.

You could imagine how much worse it was after I saw the movie, and I did….at the El Capitan. On June 21, 1991. Yes, twenty years ago I was there on opening day with my older brother. It was a magical day for me. I’ve never been to a theater like this before. It was big, and it was gorgeous. And the movie…it was better then what I ever thought it would be.

Rocketeer shaped the things that I loved today, and I have remained a fan since. I’ve bought all the fantastic comics from writer/artist Dave Stevens, (who we lost too early) and have since dreamed of more Rocketeer stories, be it another film or comics.

It’s still one of the best comic book films I’ve seen, and the day that I saw it at The El Capitan Theater is a childhood memory that I cherish to this day.

Whenever I hear the James Horner theme I’m 7 years old all over again.

I would to like revisit that day again, with me and my older brother. Thank you.”

Sadly we didn’t win (click here to see the Ain’t It Cool page for the contest and the winner) but strangely enough, just thinking about that day and my memories of seeing it was enough for me.

It seems like a movie that still works on a lot people to this day. It’s timeless, fun, has heart and yes, still one of the best superhero/comic book films made.

Thanks again Kuya (my older brother) for taking me to see this film 20 years ago, that day and that movie still means a lot to me.

I have a great fondness of used bookstores. My brother used to take me to several in our area when I was a kid. Aladdin’s Books in Old Town Fullerton and Book Baron on Magnolia in Anaheim were my favorites. I loved walking around in these places, looking at the different cover art and the variety of books. Who needs Barnes and Nobles, these books have history, other people have read, enjoyed (or even hated) the books on the shelves. God, I even love the smell of the slightly  stale air of the books.

Sadly both stores are gone, as well as all the other used bookstores that I used to go to. But once in a while, you sometimes can discover another one, waiting to be found.

As I was driving around in Huntington Beach, I saw a store front that just simply had a sign that said “USED BOOKS”. I figured, what the hell…it wouldn’t hurt to look around.

This is what I found when I walked inside…

I nearly cried. In an age where bookstores (big and small) are going away, I find one that’s just like the ones I remembered. Walking around brought back all my memories of the used bookstores of my youth. I couldn’t have been happier.

I saw on YELP that people say that it’s a terrible store because of the disorganization…well those people don’t get it. Seeing piles of books on the floor, that to me is used bookstore heaven. This place isn’t disorganized, it’s just right.

I mean, you gotta love a bookstore that has Doc Savage to buy on the shelf…

Or a store that has signs like this….

And yes, I did buy something from the store, a nice hardcover of Sherlock Holmes mysteries (this one containing both A Study in Scarlet and The Hound of Baskervilles) that was $6. Oh yeah…you also can’t beat the price of these places.

If you live near Huntington Beach, CA here is the address of this place…

Sandcastle Used Bookstore

16582 Gothard St
Unit E
Huntington Beach, CA 92647

(714) 847-9944

But you know what, I’d advise you to just drive around your area, because who knows, maybe you’ll make your own discovery.

Midway through the film, Babydoll (Emily Browning) is mowing down robot solider after robot solider in a spectacular action scene, a thought quickly went to my head….I stopped caring.

Before I get into that, let me give you guys my expectation on the film.

I knew going in that this was going to director’s Zack Snyder’s “Get it out of his system” film. What does that mean? It means that he most likely wanted to make the following  films: A fantasy film, a samurai film, a futuristic film, a musical, a war in the trenches film, a steam punk movie, and some kind of animes style film. He wanted to make films using all those great iconic images, but he figured it probably take him forever to make all those films.

His solution? Make it one movie.

I was down the moment when I heard about the film back in 2008. I was even more excited when I saw the footage at Comic Con, BUT, I was apprehensive about it. It looked good, but will the narrative work? As much as I love Snyder’s other films, I won’t deny that his story sensibilities and characterization tend to fall short.

Sadly, Sucker Punch, more then anything he’s done before, accidentally highlights those flaws that he has as a filmmaker.

The film’s characters are lacking. They’re idea’s of characters. Concepts, not fully fleshed out characters. It seemes like the film’s idea of fleshing out a character is to have them cry. In my opinion the only character with any spark of life is Rocket. Rocket has the clearest motivation, and the clearest character traits. Jena Malone does a lot to bring out that charisma in the character, but I do think she’s the best written one.

Actually, the whole cast of girls I will say did their best to bring the characters to life. It was only because of the fact that Emily Browing, Abbie Cornish, Vanessa Hudgens and Jaime Chung were good in their roles did I start to notice that they didn’t feel like they were fully written. Hudgens and Chung actually brought a good amount of charm in their parts in which I started to like them, and that is when I noticed that I actually don’t know their characters at all. Those two in particular were mostly left in the sidelines while Babydoll, Sweet Pea and Rocket does most of the heavy lifting both in the action scenes and in the story.

Going back to not knowing the characters, lets look at Babydoll. Babydoll is the lead in the film, and while I knew the reasoning of why she’s in the mental institution,  and why she’s in the mental state that she’s in….I don’t know HER.  Why does she have these dreams? Why is it both a brothel, and then a crazy mixmash of a teenage boy fantasy? Why those images?

That becomes the issue with the story. There is no reason any of these “worlds” that Snyder sets up, the mental institution, the brothel, and the world of fantasy, has any reason for being in the same film. Snyder’s rules of the film aren’t really defined.

The truth is, these aren’t Babydoll’s fantasies….they’re Snyder’s.  The whole conceit of this being his “Get it out of my system” film kinda backfires because he didn’t make a strong enough story and characters to justify this whole film.

But in that regard, the film can work as pure eye candy. If you want to be dazzled by great, stylish film-making, then Snyder does that well.

I can certainly say that I didn’t get BORED while watching this. The interesting use of covers of popular music (the brothel sequences are so clearly MOULIN ROUGE inspired I’d half expected Nicole Kidman to walk in.), the cutting, and the imagery and yes, …the action is great. Every single action sequence is pure Snyder, and if you still like his style, then your won’t be disappointed. The action is fantastic, with the World War I/steam punk sequences being my favorite.

I certainly hope Snyder got out whatever he had to get out of his system. His next film is Superman, and hopefully this time out he can focus on the story and characters just as much as he focuses on his visuals and action.

In the end, I define Sucker Punch for me like this. If I end up getting the DVD, I will just jump to a sequence in the film to rewatch. But will I sit down and watch the whole thing again? Probably not as much. It’s a misfire…but it sure is an entertaining one.

I didn’t really want to contribute to the discussion of this…but I found this interesting.

I think it’s safe to say that by now, you’ve seen this.

You must have right? Over 50,000,000 people did, at least.

I’m not hear to bash this video. It’s bad, sure, but it’s certainly not the worst video in the world.  If you guys looked at the other videos on this channel, all of them starring wanna be teen pop stars themselves, who’s parents paid for the video (just like Black), they’re all in that exact mediocrity-bad level. For some reason, Miss Black’s video is the one that struck.

The internet is weird like that. BUT, that’s not what’s interest me.

See, I stumbled upon this video starring Miranda Cosgrove (for people my age, that funny/overachiever little girl character from School of Rock, for young kids, the lead girl from iCarly.)

Now…tell me this doesn’t look….FAMILIAR….

Interesting that they share that many images and shots. Who ripped off who? Do I sense a fight coming on?! Is someone going to have to sue the other person!?

….of course not. The truth is actually much simpler.

Looking at the upload dates I noticed that they were uploaded a day apart from each other. Funny enough, Black’s video was uploaded first.  She beat Cosgrove by a day. So if anyone is to blame rip off, that would be ridiculous, and down right impossible.

So what does that mean?  The makers of both the videos and the songs are just generalizing that what they think girls want to hear and see. That’s why the videos are so similar, they’re working off the same model, the same model that’s been used over and over again. Ever saw a Debbie Gibson video from the ’80s? Is it really any better…or any less cheesy?

So really, how much can we really blame Miss Black? Make fun of Black’s video all you want, but the truth is, she isn’t first one to have a video like this, and trust me, she won’t be the last.

The trailer to the brand new  The Three Musketeer (in 3D :P) is up. Before I show you guys what I think of the new Musketeers film,I thought it would be cool look back on the film history of the Musketeers. There have been many film versions of the famous Alexandre Dumas story. Lets look at some of them….

1921, Starring Douglas Fairbanks as d’Artagnan.

1933, A contemporary revamp with John Wayne (!!) playing d’Artagnan (now renamed Tom Wayne)

File:Three Musketeers-1933-002.png

1939, a comedic version of the tale starring Don Ameche as d’Artagnan.

1948,  with Gene Kelly as d’Artagnan, and Vincent Price as Richeliu.

1973, with Michael York as d’Artagnan, and Charlton Heston as Richeliu.

Interesting enough, it will take 30 years exactly for the next adaptation to happen…

1993, with Chris O’Donnell as d’Artagnan and Tim Curry as Richeliu.

This was my first exposure to the Musketeer story, a movie that was clearly made in a post Kevin Costner “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” world. Notice how everyone is accent less.  I don’t think it’s a secret that the success of the Costner movie was the main reason this movie was made (down to even getting Prince of Thieves composer Michael Kamen to do the score and to have  Bryan Adams to also contribute a song like he did for Robin Hood.)

2001, with Justin Chambers as d’Artagnan and Stephen Rea as Richeliu.

I remembered that I really wanted to like this one, and the idea of combining the energy of asian action cinema sounded like a great idea. The problem is that they couldn’t pull it off, and instead it feels like a limp attempt at best.

So it’s ten years later, Hollywood decides to try it again. The recent success of the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes movie motivated the reason we’re getting another one, and much like how Disney’s Musketeers film resembles the Costner movie, this film clearly has a Holmes influence.

2011, this time with Logan Lerman as d’Artagnan and Christoph Waltz as Richeliu.

I think it’s safe to say this version will not be a straight adaptation of the book. Personally, I have issues with the director, Paul W.S. Anderson. He’s yet to make a movie that I really enjoyed. The cast seems good, and there are some nice looking fight scenes in this. It being in 3D doesn’t impress me, but it is what’s popular now. (They thankfully didn’t go and call it The 3D Musketeers…)

And that’s the interesting thing about having a new Three Musketeers film. All of these versions of the story are clearly products of their time, and I kinda like that. In a way, I’d argue that there should be a new Musketeers film every 10-20 years. It’s a story that can be told again, and again. Each version of the Three Musketeers will be special for that generations film goers, and I’d say why not. If doing  a new film will keep the memory of this story alive, I see this as good thing.

Now excuse me, I’m going to see if I could start my pitch of a reimagined  Three Musketeers film set in ancient china with Shaolin Monks……or my maybe it should be set in ancient Japan and have it be with samurais… or maybe the future…..or maybe…

UPDATED!

Ah, a friend of mine reminded me about Jackie Chan’s Wheels on Meals, which I guess is the closest  to a Hong Kong Musketeers film…kinda…

I think it’s safe to say that The Hangover can be considered a new comedy classic. It’s got a great sense of pace, comedic set pieces, chemistry between the cast, and memorable moment after memorable moment.  It’s pretty damn great, and many people seem to agree. I sadly didn’t get the chance to see it until it was at the dollar theater (2009, the year I was SUPER broke) so I didn’t get to join the talk until later.

Of course, with a film doing that big, Hollywood planned on…whatelse…a sequel….

I’ll be honest, I’m a bit hesitant on this. Was this screaming for a sequel? Not really. I was totally fine just ending it right were it was. I mean, what? The guys get hung over…again?? I feared that a sequel will just be the filmmakers doing the first movie again. The new teaser trailer did little to convince me otherwise…

Now, don’t me wrong, I do like that teaser. It’s got swagger. I mean, the critic blurbs in the beginning is pretty much swinging confidence. The choice of the Jay-Z song is perfect, and the reveal shot of the boys is great. I kinda wish this is all we see for the new film, just keep the rest of the flick in the dark until it comes out. It’s got the popularity to do so. Also…who doesn’t love a monkey?

But, right away I see some way too familar things. First off, the previously mentioned monkey? That means the boys are stuck with an animal again, probably not sure how they got it. Just like last time. Stu is disfigured again (thought the Tyson tattoo is a nice call back to the first flick so I’ll give them that.) and so far it seems like Doug’s missing…again.

But you know what, this is only a teaser trailer and I’m unfairly judging it on that alone. I’m also not going to lie, I’m watching this. I’m down. I like the cast, and the director, enough to see what they got up their sleeves. I just hope their not going to repeat themselves too much.

There are many reasons why people won’t like this. The way Rogen both wrote and portrayed Britt Reid. The unoriginality of the story. Maybe the tone throws them off. I get that, but all honestly, I really liked this.

The chemistry with Rogen and Chou is fantastic. I love how they built they’re friendship. I personally get why these two guys are friends. It kinda makes it fun that these two guys decide to be superheroes out of cockiness. Their first scenes in the garage, getting drunk, and getting to know each other are my favorite scenes in the film. They felt legitimate.

I know I will get total SHIT for this, but I liked Jay Chou in it. For me, his broken English actually works for Kato. I though he was charismatic and really likable, and they used this broken English to even help with the comedic timing on the flick.

I also want to defend Seth Rogen for a bit. Rogen isn’t quite playing the usual Rogen character. Here, he’s a guy who a bit of a prick, not the loveable-manchild-stoner he usually plays. But, Rogen plays this type well, and it’s quiet fun to see him playing against type. I will however agree that the character is hard to like, and he takes a while to finally grow. Hopefully if they can do a Green Hornet 2 they will lessen on Britt Reid…asshole.

Waltz makes a decent villain. I kinda dig the weird idea of a bad guy going through a midlife crisis. I personally could watch Christoph Waltz read the phone book, so I dug him in this.

Cameron Diaz is fine in this, funny in her scenes with Rogen and Chou, but her character seems lost in the writing. Her character feels undefined.

Michel Gondry’s style is a little quieter then usual, but it comes out in awesome little spurts. One scene in particular has the MOTHER of all split-screens! He also handles the fight scenes with ease at the action in this film is well done, and just plain fun to watch.

For the hardcore Green Hornet fans…you’d be surprise how close to the material they are. There are plenty of nods to the franchise (the first outfits that Reid and Kato wear are a nice homage to their first comic book looks for one example)

So yeah, I truly had fun with this film. Go in with the right attitude, and you’d have a good time too.

During the super bowl there were plenty of big summer event film ads.  Watching these something accrued to me, this is a big crowed summer of aliens attacking earth movies. More so then usual. Four to be exact. Lets look at them shall we…

Everything I’ve seen so far looks cool. This new ad has a bunch of new scenes. I’m really diggin Daniel Craig jumping on top of that freaky alien ship.

The aesthetic of this flick reminds me of District 9 by way of Black Hawk Down, which is not a bad thing. This looks like it could be tons of fun. I’m down.

No! No! I refuse to get tricked again! No! Screw you!…but damn it that shot of Optimus…No! No! Your just going to piss me off again…but I will admit…this is a cool looking ad…but…the ads for TF: Revenge of the Fallen looked good too.

My favorite trailer of the night. Many things to look forward too. JJ Abrams first feature film not based on an existing property. The fact that they want to make the kind of films that ol’ Steven Spielberg used to make. The look of this film. The idea that the story’s lead characters are a group of kids making movies in their backyard. But the simple thing for me, is that I love the fact that I’m not sure what is happening in this story, but I know I want to see it.

 

Japanese commercials are always fun to watch.  Beyond just noticing the culture clash, it’s pretty funny to watch the crazy energy and enthusiasm these commercials have.

Here are three of the funniest ones to me….

What the hell did they put in those drinks? No one can be that excited for Spongebob…right?

That’s…one way to sell a burger.

OK! Do you even KNOW what your selling here?! Because I don’t!

Yeah, this blog is a bit on the random side, but this was on my mind for some reason.

And I also there are probably much more crazy ones out there? Any one want to share?