Archive for the ‘ Animated Films or Series ’ Category

Godzilla Stomps Box Office, X-Men Save the Future, Comics, and More!

Wow, it’s been busy this month.  With the TMNT anniversary month wrapped up, there was a lot of other things going on and it’s delayed me from writing another blog entry.  Godzilla stomped destroyed the box office with his release, X-Men: Days of Future Past hurtled through time to win over audiences and critics, a new chapter began in the Amazing Spider-Man comics, the TMNT anniversary issue and new issue of the ongoing IDW comic came out, and Project A-Kon starts tomorrow!  This blog will be a bit more brief and run through all these items…or will be terribly rambly going through all this items!  Let’s see which!

Godzilla

Despite the poorly accepted Godzilla 2000, it seems most people were still remembering the abomination of a movie simply titled “Godzilla” starring Matthew Broderick.  As the latest American production of Godzilla slowly built up its promotional material, fans were growing more and more excited.  The Internet seemed hopeful and as more teasers came out, excitement actually started building and anticipation grew for Godzilla.  A few weeks before release, I read an article in Forbes predicting the movie was going to be a box office flop.  The King of Monsters proved that prediction false with over $93 million on opening weekend and a worldwide gross that’s reached over $521.5 million in box office revenue.  A sequel is already in the works for the new series of the franchise and I hope they continue to do well.

To me, the movie was great.  Perfect, I’m sure there’s a lot of problems, so no, but absolutely fun.  Some complained about the lack of Godzilla, but the series of films have always been about the human element and the problem they face with another giant monster threatening Earth until Godzilla comes along and fights it.  Bryan Cranston was great as expected, but I felt like Ken Watanabe was underutilized.  I’m hoping he returns with a larger part as a more knowledgeable expert on Godzilla in the sequel.  The plot was particularly enjoyable in that it took the standard set up from past films with Godzilla vs a Monster, or MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) where past Godzilla flops have focused on man vs Godzilla.  We don’t want Godzilla as a bad guy, it’s his film and despite the destruction he causes fighting the enemy, he’s our hero!

I thought Godzilla looked great, though he didn’t have the personality of the old films.  He was more animal-like, described as an Alpha Predator of prehistoric origins as hypothesized by Ken Watanabe’s character.  They hint at the original Godzilla film with nuclear testing having awoken Godzilla in the past and granted the first glimpse of him, which was neat as well.  The size of Godzilla is massive. He seemed bigger than I recall, but then the old ones were a man in a suit on a set of miniatures, so it’s more perception than fair comparison.  I’d like to see a little more of his personality in future films, showing he has a little higher intelligence than simply a predatory animal.  After all, the original Godzilla could not only be communicated with by other monsters, but as relayed by Mothra through the twins, he didn’t care for mankind.  In a fight, Godzilla would gloat and laugh at his enemies in his own way and would somewhat throw a tantrum when getting frustrated.  While I don’t think that level of silliness would work for this new Godzilla, showing some level of emotion would be interesting.

I won’t spoil anything, but I will say I was expecting Godzilla to end the fight at the climax by breaking the female MUTO’s jaw.  The way he actually ended the fight shocked me and left me with a big grin on my face.  It was an awesome finisher to the fight.  I’m hoping the next film involves aliens as the source of the monster.
X-Men: Days of Future Past

The film impressed critics, which is saying something.  It’s currently 92% positive with critics and 94% with audiences at Rotten Tomatoes, which is the highest the franchise has ever reached. Even higher than First Class or X2: X-Men United.  It’s also been out for only a few weeks and is already the highest grossing X-Men film, amassing $500 million in just 10 days.  I not only enjoyed the film, but moreso appreciated the direction it has established for films going forward, the next of which is X-Men: Apocalypse.

As Bryan Singer suggested, the film was used to tie up some loose ends and fix some problems almost everyone had with the original trilogy’s plot missteps.  Days of Future Past avoids the temptation of mutant cameos for the sake of saying a mutant had a cameo (seriously, that was NOT Psylocke in Last Stand) and the mutants it does give an appearance to are actually used.  Fan favorites Blink, Bishop and not-as-favorite Warpath join Storm, Colossus, Iceman, and Magneto among the chief combatants in the dark future against the evolved Sentinels.  The story of the Sentinels themselves is different than the comics, but works well and is a nice spin on the storyline itself.

People did complain about Wolverine being the one sent back in time rather than Kitty Pryde a la the comics, but it makes sense to me.  The Mary Sue claimed it was lazy writing that neared sexism, but I disagree.  Lazy writing would be to further strain logic to send Ellen Paige back for the sake of it, having to make a convoluted excuse of her returning to a time where’s she’s not even been born.  Compound that with the fact that Wolverine is the frontrunner for the series and it’s logical to have Jackman’s character as the focal point since his character is logically in the past already.  The series already has enough continuity problems, particularly with ages, to need yet another one with Kitty alive when Kitty wasn’t alive for the sake of using Kitty who has been a minor role in the films as a whole so far.  Honestly, if we were arguing for not using Wolverine in Pryde’s place, I’d prefer to go totally unknown and have Bishop as our main focus.  The nice thing about sending Wolverine back, however, is that he doesn’t actually take the spotlight.  Logan is actually better used as a character amongst an ensemble in this film rather than the focal point of the spotlight.

As stated, though, I’m more interested in seeing how things develop from here.  Days of Future Past is the first Fox X-Film under the world building coordination of Mark Millar as consultant for Fox, Jackman said there was more presence from Marvel on set than previous films, and it’s the first real X-Film that’s been produced as an established comic team in the post-Marvel Studios Hollywood.  The film maintained the thematic continuity of the original films with the future X-Men wearing black armored suits akin to the leather of the original trilogy, but there’s some color coming into them as well.  Blue and yellow (in a black/yellow pattern that gives it a tan look) for Wolverine, for example.

I was stoked by the yellow at the ribs and on the arms, actually.

And with the 70s really being pre-X-Men there were not costumes for the majority of it other than Magneto donning his armor which had far more color than the original dark tones.

Very much like his comic colors

Which leads me to wonder if X-Men: Apocalypse, which has already been confirmed to be bringing in young Jean Grey, Cyclops, and Storm, will be going more traditional in their costumes as well.  Cyclops in a Captain America-like blue, hopefully.  I’m also personally hoping that Storm will have her mohawk for the 80s set film.  My only concern right now is Wolverine.  The timeline was altered in Days of Future Past and rather than undergoing the Weapon X project with Stryker in the 80s, we see Wolverine being taken by Mystique-as-Stryker instead.

With Lawrence’s Mystique becoming the face of the films alongside Jackman, and Mystique’s history of being used as a tie to Apocalypse, I’m wondering if they’re planning on having the Weapon X project headed by Stryker at the behest of Apocalypse and Wolverine becoming the Horseman of Death.  It would be a comic influence to do so, but not one I’d like to see as it causes continuity questions for the films all over again with the X-Men knowing Wolverine before he joins.  There was some cool speculation that the mutants we glimpsed in Days of Future Past, rescued by Mystique, could become the Four Horseman (or three, because…well, Toad).  Havok as War, the one with the radiation symbol on his face for Pestilence, and the one that made the soldiers simply pass out as Famine.  This would indeed leave death open.  Instead of Wolverine, though, I’d much rather see Angel brought back and made into Archangel.

 

Amazing Spider-Man

I have to admit I really enjoyed the Superior Spider-Man arc and as it moved along, you could literally start seeing the problems that were being put together for Peter upon his return.  As predicted at the start of the run, Peter’s return coincided with the release of Amazing Spider-Man 2 in theaters, and here he is.  The first story they’re telling is going to introduce a new character, Silk, who was also bitten by the same spider that gave Peter his powers in high school.  Now, the character might be interesting, but I hate when writers go back and add to the long held origin story.  The “oh, but here’s what really happened” or “here’s the rest of the story” doesn’t work for me and it rarely adds anything of value to the overall story.  I may also still be annoyed at “Xavier is an asshole” from the Second Genesis addition with Deadly Genesis.

The only thing I was particularly nervous about that won me over in a single issue was Anna Maria Marconi.  It was obvious that Otto had fallen in love with her and was in a serious relationship with her.  I liked that she found he was thinking of proposing to her, but I didn’t like the fact that they revealed that things had gotten to the point of sleeping together.  I’m old fashioned and I do like the notion of monogamy after marriage rather than sleep-around-single then settle-down-married.  Yes, I know it’s old fashioned, but it’s also the type of character I’ve always seen Peter to be yet Brand New Day has had him engage in one night stands and friends with benefits.  I think it would have been more contrasting for Otto, who is an older man and might see things more like his generation did, to have followed that notion.  However, I will say the “I’m pregnant” scene was absolutely fantastic and it nailed Maria as a favorite for me.  It’s been a long time coming, but I’m really interested to see how Spider-Man will work having a bit of a Batman quality to him.  With Parker Industries serving as Wayne Enterprises and Anna as his Alfred/Lucius-in-one.

Now when will Mary Jane appear in the movies again so she and Peter can start dating in the comics.  I will always hate the One More Day plot and dissolving the marriage rather than, I dunno, writing it properly and having MJ as a strong character.  Oddly enough, it seems that the whole Brand New Day has done more to better MJ as a character than done anything to really make Spider-Man/Peter better.  Mephisto was certainly right about one thing, though…just under the surface, Peter and MJ still seem to know they’re meant for one another, but just can’t get there….and the other relationships they enter into just don’t feel quite right.  Damn you, Mephisto.  I hope Dr. Strange gives you a whomping in an arc around the time of his movie release too.

TMNT Anniversary Wrap Up

I watched Secret of the Ooze again.  While the original movie still holds up, the Secret of the Ooze doesn’t.  It’s a perfect example of Hollywood getting involved with too much control. The film is clearly made to be silly and more funny for kids where the original film, an independent film, had a more mature tone.  I couldn’t bring myself to take time for TMNT III or to rewatch TMNT from 2007 (which I actually really liked).

The 30th Anniversary issue came out and while nothing particularly special to delve into on a continuing basis, it was a neat comic.  Multiple short stories, each one in the style of the various incarnations of TMNT: Mirage, Archie Comics, Image, IDW.  Very cool stuff.

The latest issue of the ongoing IDW was great. I really like Don’s friend Harold and the introduction of Metalhead was really cool. Santolucco is a great artist for the series and the writers are still doing some neat stuff there.  With Leo still being my favorite turtle, I’m interested to see how things continue to develop for him.  Everyone writes him off as the boring character since he’s the boy scout, but I think IDW has done well fleshing him out more. He’s sometimes a jerk (he’s the big brother, after all) to the others when they disagree, but he also cares about his family.  Despite being the most dedicated student, you can see a bit of difference of opinion between him and Splinter growing in his concern over agreeing with Don that dealing with the Technodrome and Krang may be most important while Splinter is focused on their direct problem with Shredder.  I’m definitely interested to see where that leads as all children have difference of opinion with their parents as they grow.  We know the Rat King is going to be appearing soon and that will be a good story for Leo as he’ll have to handle things alone if Splinter is under the Rat King’s sway.  Next issue, however, is looking to be great as we get a pairing that isn’t explored enough: Raph and Mike.  I’m really looking forward to that!

And Old Hobb and Slash are still working their own plan, as we saw in the end of this latest issue.  I’m expecting Alopex to wind up back in New York and possibly joining him for a while.  I’ll admit, I really like Alopex.  Granted, she a fox, literally, so that’s a plus for her in my book, but I like the character.  I just hope they don’t further the Raph/Alopex friendship as it makes her too much like Ninjara for me.  I’d much rather see Alopex and Leo form a friendship since they have history of going through similar challenges with the Foot and, honestly, Leo needs a friend.  Raph has Casey, Don has Harold and April, Mike has the pizza shop guy and possibly a police detective.  Leo has his family.  That dude needs a friend.

Project A-Kon 25

The big 25th Anniversary of the longest running Anime Convention in North America is THIS WEEKEND!  This will mark my 10th year straight going to this convention and I’m really looking forward to it.  I don’t cosplay anymore and sadly I won’t be taking Crow T. Robot (or will I?) since I don’t have a friend to carry Tom Servo.  I loved taking Crow and Servo and there’s no end to stopping to take photos, but my time at A-Kon is now usually spent at panel after panel with little time to waste in between.  Then again, there’s always down time in the evenings it seems. Maybe Crow will go, though he won’t be cosplaying this year either (seriously, cosplaying Crow is a heavy Crow).

I’m expecting a larger turn out of Attack on Titan cosplay as well as Sword Art Online. Expect to see a few Log Horizon as well.  I’ll be working on a preview of my schedule and which panels to attend today, packing up and getting ready. I’ll also be driving over today to go ahead and pick up my badge and bag o’ goodies.

A-Kon, here I come! 🙂

30 Years of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Like most children of the 80s, I grew up steeped in everything I could get my hands on related to TMNT.  Of course, as a child in the 80s, and not a teenager, that mostly meant the original Fred Wolf cartoon and the plethora of associated toys.  I had no childhood knowledge of the gritty, more violent Mirage Comics from Kevin Eatman and Peter Laird at the time, but I still loved the turtles dearly.

I’ve been reading the IDW comics and have wanted to write some blog entries for a while.  My thoughts on story arcs, a piece on the Alopex character, some things I particularly like, and chances to talk about the mainstay characters. And, of course, I’ve been wanting to compile all my thoughts on the upcoming movie “from producer Michael Bay” (honestly, if you’re the only guy behind the camera getting billed on trailers, then you earn all the flak and ire from those unhappy, so yeah, it’s “Bay’s turtles” to me so long as he’s getting top billing over the director).  So far, however, I’ve waited to write about the turtles.  Waited for this month. For May 2014.

For this month, we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the first appearance of Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Donatello, Raphael, Shredder, and Splinter.  A comic series that still inspires today, a comic series that has no small part in my own ideas for a comic book or webcomic that I’m still working to put all the pieces of the puzzle together.  Two guys took influence from their favorite comic creators of the time and released what has to be the most successful independent publication in the history of comics.  That’s a really cool story.

So I decided I would dedicate the month of May largely to TMNT.  Oh yes, I’m going to see Godzilla and X-Men: Days of Future Past and I’m going to read other comics and play some other games. But largely, this month is dedicated to comics, games, cartoons, and movies involving four mutated turtles trained as ninja as well as pizza. Lots of pizza.

I actually spent last night watching the first five episodes of the Fred Wolf cartoon again.  The classic intro theme is still catchy as ever and the animation for the opening theme still holds up today.

The cartoon’s take on the turtles origin, with Splinter being Hamato Yoshi actually works pretty well and is still used in today’s incarnations in some way or another.  Cam Clarke and Barry Gordon are still the voices I most associate with Leonardo and Donatello, though I like later voice actors for Mike and Raph more, particularly Raphael.  Since the cartoon was for kids, Raphael’s personality took the largest change into one of more of a wise cracking sarcastic character rather than the most anti-hero archetype of the group.  Shredder was pretty cool in the first five issues with only occasional childish antics that grew more pronounced as the series continued.  And while Peter Laird is known to have not liked them, I think Bebop and Rocksteady were fantastic additions to the turtle continuity.  They suffered from bumbling henchman syndrome of a children’s cartoon, but the character have a lot of potential to be a serious threat, as IDW has been showing with their development of them.

I don’t know that, even with nostalgia encouraging me, I’d want to pick up the full 10 season run of the original cartoon, but going back and watching the original 5 episodes is still a lot of fun.  While I have my share of complaints with what has been seen and what’s known of the upcoming movie from Platinum Dunes, I do think that taking elements of the original cartoon could definitely work for a more updated and seriously toned film, but I’ll get into that later.

Happy birthday TMNT, here’s hoping to many more. Cowabunga, dudes.

Introduction to Ninja Fox Games & More

I thought about jumping right into this blog with a first article, but decided introductions were in order first, for both the blog and the author.

I was born in January 1981 and when I was little, a good friend of mine had an Atari 2600.  The first games I remember playing are Pac Man, Chopper Command, and Joust.  From that point on, I’ve been a gamer my entire life.  In elementary school, I worked with my parents’ help to sell raffle tickets for a fund raiser and won the first place prize for selling the most tickets. I won $100 and used that money to buy a Nintendo Entertainment System.  My dad and I would play Super Mario Bros. together to see who could beat it first.  My dad rescued Princess Toadstool before I did, but I beat the game with the fire flower’s power first.

That first taste of video game victory was so sweet.

A few years later during a trip to visit a relative in Houston, TX, I bought the Super Nintendo Entertainment system which still has some of my favorite games of all time.

Oh Squaresoft, I miss you…

I later purchased a Sega Genesis and Sega Game Gear, a Game Boy Pocket, and a GameBoy Color.  I never bought a Sega Saturn, but I rented it from the local Blockbuster and remember playing Panzer Dragoon.  I was primarily a Nintendo guy with my Sega experience mostly contained to Sonic the Hedgehog and a few other titles, but like so many other RPG fans, I jumped ship when Final Fantasy VII came out on the Playstation.

Because this was mind blowing cutting edge polygons right here.  And because we fell in love (lust?) with Tifa Lockheart.
Coincidentally, this was my standard team!

I didn’t completely abandon Nintendo considering I came back to the N64 two years later.  I continued with the GameCube as well as the PS2 and later the PS3 and I’ve recently gotten a Nintendo Wii and got a release Playstation 4.

By 2013, I had sold a lot of my games, but had kept all my consoles and I discovered there are a lot of people out there who, like me, still love the old games as much as new ones and there are groups out there focused on collecting retro games.  I decided that I wanted to gather up some of the old games and start to dig more into the history of video games over the years and decided I’d go back and get every system I’ve ever played in addition to the ones I’ve owned through the years and plan to build a “Top 100” library for each console.

My library now includes:
Atari 2600
Nintendo Entertainment System
Game Boy
Sega Genesis with Sega CD & Sega 32X
Game Gear
Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Sega Saturn
Sega Dreamcast
N64
GameCube
Playstation
Playstation 2
Playstation 3
Playstation Vita
Nintendo Wii
Playstation 4

Fair warning now, I’ve never been an X-Box fan and have never played X-Box, X-Box 360, nor do I have any interest in the X-Box One.

I’ve also got a fairly well rooted history with MMORPGs as well!  I played EverQuest for about 4 years, Final Fantasy XI for 1 year, World of Warcraft for 9 continuous, uninterrupted years, dabbled in Lord of the Rings Online, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, and Final Fantasy XIV before finally moving currently into Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.

So there you have my background in Video Games, but what’s up with the title of this blog saying “& More” huh?  Well, I’m not just a gaming geek, I’m a well rounded geek/nerd!

At age 10, I picked up X-Men #1
https://i0.wp.com/static1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20091219024361/marveldatabase/images/c/c3/X-Men_Vol_2_1_Variant_C.jpg
So now I’ve been collecting comic books for 23 years.  I’ve focused on X-Men, but I’ve collected quite a few Uncanny X-Men, a full run of Wolverine, and full run of Amazing Spider-Man from its first relaunch/renumbering (later dropped for the standard numbering) along with a decent mix of other titles from Marvel, an occasional run in Batman, and some other publishers as well.  Currently, Superior Spider-Man (soon to again be Amazing Spider-Man) and IDW’s TMNT are my favorite monthly books and I’ve lost so much interest since Marvel Now!, my ongoing subscription to Wolverine and any X-Titles is really in question.

I also am a bit of an otaku, having started with Sci-Fi Channel airing what was then Saturday Anime, but often called Japanimation at the time with Akira, Vampire Hunter D, Project A-Ko, and one of my favorites to this day, Record of Lodoss War.


Kind of surprising how well D&D works as an anime.

Over the years, I’ve continued to watch anime and have attended A-Kon in Dallas, TX for the last nine years with 2014 being my 10 year anniversary in attendance.  If I get any readers to this blog who love anime, don’t hesitate to e-mail suggestions to watch!  This anime interest has extended into a few series of manga, though I don’t tend to pick those up anymore simply due to the sheer volume of a series and the cost in keeping up with it.

My interest in anime has also led me to a financially semi-unhealthy interest in statues and figures, which weren’t so bad contained to anime, but got a bit insane expanding to the statue maquettes from Sideshow Collectibles of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Fellowship of the Ring (where’s Merry and Pippin, Sideshow?!)

I also enjoy a lot of different movies, TV series, animated series, and web series such as the Jace Hall Show and Felicia Day’s The Guild!

So that explains the “Games & More” so we’re all done!

Wait, what’s up with the whole “Ninja Fox” thing?  Well, to put it simply, I like foxes and I like ninja.  A friend of mine and I were developing a web comic that I’m now planning to move to a novel format and one of the main characters is based off Japanese kitsune myths and is admittedly one of my favorite characters in the series.  The character’s name is “Swift” (yes, that just might be a slight homage to this guy) and he’s a ninja and has fox ears and a tail.  On various forums and online games I’ll use Swift, NinjaFox, or SwiftNinjaFox as a handle.

So there you have it. A potentially unnecessarily long introduction to this blog.  I look forward to writing and sharing more thoughts, opinions, and perhaps a small helping of nonsense.

-Jeff “SwiftNinjaFox”