Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Sep 09 2014

Gods VS. Rockstars: An Examination of the Philosophies Behind DC and Marvel’s Movies

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Movies are the new comics.

To think that once upon a time the idea of comic book movies consisted of the Tim Burton Batman flicks, a Superman movie that came out in the seventies, and that bootleg Fantastic Four movie you’d see kicking around at most conventions, I still can’t believe the comic flicks we’re getting. Guardians of the Galaxy? Shazam? Before you know it Zauriel and the Impossible Man will be hogging up the silver screen as well. Call me crazy, but look at Rocket Raccoon.

While I’m thrilled by each and every comic book movie adaptation out there, I’m starting to notice a trend running through the Big Two’s franchise flicks. There are warring philosophies between the Distinguished Competition and the House of Ideas and I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. So, I’m gonna subject all of you to this theory and have you sort it out for me. Thanks for being impromptu pop culture psychiatrists, Unrealtors. You’re the swellest.

The thesis of my thought pattern is this: DC movies are about gods, and Marvel’s movies are about rock stars.

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Think about it. Films like Man of Steel, The Dark Knight Rises, and even off-shoots like Watchmen are all deep, heady, philosophically charged examinations of the concepts of heroism, on how society views those they can only ever look up to, and other cerebral, thoughtful subjects. The DC movies remind me of how the ancient Greeks and Romans used to write about their gods and the gods’ power and exploits and faults and falls. These were often heart-wrenching, messy stories of excess, punishment, and the true price of living about it all. I think we’ve evolved these storytelling techniques into the current DC MO, and the films back the theory.

Marvel, on the other hand, is the Behind the Music/Cribs/Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous of superheroes. These heroes laugh, crack jokes, have fun, and never really take themselves too seriously. Even Captain America had some one-liners. The Marvel movies are pure escapism. They allow us to access a more carefree life and indulge us in all those countless fantasies we all had as kids as to what it would be like to fly. The way we idolize Jim Morrison or Sid Vicious or Motley Crue is exactly the same way we’re treating the Marvel heroes.

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When you look at how these movies are received, the theory holds true. A great story of a great god is always going to fascinate and captivate, and The Dark Knight had two of them. That being said, gods can be divisive (as history has shown us once or…several times), and sometimes exploring these omnipotent beings can be uncomfortable and alienate folks. Like it or not, Man of Steel was definitely attempting to dig deeper and while many may claim it failed, it still held true to its beliefs. Like all good keepers of the faith do.

Meanwhile, the Marvel films receive more or less unanimous praise, and it’s understandable. Everyone loves rock start chit-chat, and even if you don’t, you’ll listen to the story still. They’re just too intriguing. Yes, nine times out of ten (Iron Man 2, Incredible Hulk) they’re fairly disposable, but that doesn’t mean they’re not entertaining to listen to. They’re dishy, flashy, and fun. And sometimes we just want exactly that: something simple. Sometimes we don’t want Beethoven. Sometimes we just want to have our ears rocked by Van Halen and that’s that. Not everything has to wring your soul out.

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But there’s a price to pay. The Avengers will never win an acting Oscar. The Dark Knight will never make you laugh at a Galaga joke. Whether or not that’s a good thing is up to the viewer, but the fact remains.

So….where does this leave us? With DC’s new “no jokes” edict being passed around, it looks like gods will remain gods, but with Marvel trying to block out a little of the spotlight and creating dramatic, gripping fare like Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Marvel may be trying to live in the best of both worlds. Winter Solider may be an anomaly though. Time will tell.

One thing is clear, though, these films are making money. Flawed as they all might be, so far, they’re all in the black. So don’t be surprised if neither team changes tactics.

Hopefully in us recognizing these aspects about these films we’ll be able to accept when they’re not the other a little bit better. It’s the same way you need to look at how your family treats that which is important to you. They’re showing the love they have, which may not be the love you want, but it’s something.

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Yeah, I’m bummed DC doesn’t seem to want much light-hearted fare (farewell dreams of a Guy Gardner and/or Kyle Rayner GL flick), but they have a purpose and a drive and I respect that. Yes, I’d love for Marvel to give me that totally bat-shit crazy monstrous Hulk film I’ve craved ever since I devoured Bruce Jones’ run about nineteen times back in the day, but who doesn’t love Hulk smiling after being told to “Smash”?

Besides, it’s all circular, right? Eventually DC will give us another Donnersesque, smiling Superman flick that still kicks ass, and eventually Marvel will pop out another Ang Lee Hulk only, hopefully, more streamlined (though I still say the flick is underrated, but that’s an article for another day.)

Gods (/royalty/major political figures/captains of industry) and rock stars (/pirates/cowboys/rogue knights). They’ve always been interesting, and they always will be. So we might as well grab some popcorn and enjoy the show.

This theory has been kicking around upstairs for a while and I’ve wanted to get it down on digital paper. So, Unrealtors, whatcha think? Sound off, you gods and gods of guitar.

Adam Esquenazi Douglas is a playwright who was born in Texas, grew up in Arkansas, was raised by a Jewish man and a Cuban woman, and, somehow, he doesn’t have an accent. His plays have been produced across the United States from Los Angeles to New York City, as well as in Canada and Japan.

He is co-host of two podcasts, The JimmyJew Podcast Extravaganza and Schmame Over Level 2, which can be found at http://jimmyjew.libsyn.com/ and  http://schmameoverlevel2.libsyn.com/ respectively, as well as on iTunes. He is a contributing writer to www.GamersSchmamers.com.

He currently lives in Brooklyn where he drinks far too much coffee.

3 responses so far


Sep 09 2014

The Sims Fail: Three Integral Features it Threw Away

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I’m a huge fan of The Sims franchise and I was honored when I got the chance to officially review the game. I was expecting only good things from The Sims 4 and that’s mostly because of my blind loyalty and the increasing hype surrounding the game.

I started the game with a huge grin on my face, but it started to fade as time passed. I liked the game but I wasn’t in love with it. They took out a lot of features fans loved from the past games to make room for new elements. Don’t get me wrong, the new additions are innovative but it’s not as strong without all the features they stripped out.

Let’s take a look at what The Sims 4 and what went wrong.

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8 responses so far


Sep 03 2014

Good To Be Bad

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There are so many “bad” characters on screen now-a-days I surprisingly find myself rooting for most of them. Characters such as Walter White, Francis Underwood, Jaime Lannister, Don Draper, Dexter, Tony Soprano and so on. Don’t act like you haven’t rooted for at least one of them because I have a feeling that you’ve sat there on the sidelines secretly cheering them on in their endeavors. But have you ever wondered why?

What is it about these deplorable characters that reels us in? It seems that if the character in question is shown with an ounce of humanity or some kind of sympathetic trait, then we relate to them on some level and we let them get away with anything. Then to further our compassion for these would be foes, we tune in week to week to see what they will get away with next.

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5 responses so far


Sep 02 2014

Why DC/Warner’s “No Jokes” Statement is No Problem

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So, apparently somebody at DC/Warner handed down a rule for their upcoming slate of movies: “No Jokes.” And from what I could tell the internet just lost its freakin’ mind over it.

Well, that’s not exactly true. What I did see, however, was a small string of articles decrying this mandate as basically ridiculous, doubly so in the light of Marvel’s continued success (so-called) in making movies that are not just fun, but funny.

As you can tell from the title, I’m a witness for the defense today. I happen to think that the DC/Warner mandate is not only perfectly intelligible, but even sort of admirable (if not necessarily the BEST solution). Besides, I think the occasionally addictive wit which Marvel has become known by occasionally masks how thin their content is.

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8 responses so far


Aug 27 2014

Attention Everyone, You Can Comment Again

Published by under Uncategorized

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We’ve had an ongoing problem with our commenting system for a while now, but Disqus has been switched back on again, so feel free to resume commenting. Sorry for whatever the hell happened, but we should be back in gear now.

I had no idea what picture to use about solving a commenting problem.

3 responses so far


Aug 26 2014

The Dark Side of Die-Hard Fandom

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I went to a theatrical screening of A New Hope recently. For some reason I never saw the Special Editions in theatres as a kid, so this was a pretty exciting deal for me. Star Wars on the big screen and all that. For me, an opportunity to watch these movies for what they are: movies.

What actually happened during the screening is that I started ruminating on the extreme, potentially destructive form in which fandom has manifested in Star Wars enthusiasts. I mean, I noticed some stuff about Luke’s character journey that I hadn’t picked up on before, and generally enjoyed myself. But there was definitely some ruminating going on.

It started soon after the opening crawl concluded, when I noticed a truly weird energy in the screening room.

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4 responses so far


Jul 22 2014

Why Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is One of the Best Sequels in Years

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Hopefully you guys have all seen Dawn of the Planet of the Apes by now. If not, fix that! It’s the best movie of the summer (barring Snowpiercer, which is a very different sort of thing). Matt Reeves’ sequel to 2011’s sleeper hit showcases great action, strong characters, and above-average intelligence. And yes, there’s flaws, too. It’s not perfect.

Still, the flaws aren’t my business today, because what that struck me most of all about this movie was how well it functioned as a sequel. With all the franchises and spinoffs and whatever else we’re swamped with these days, you’d think more folks would actually know how to use the sequel format correctly. But, uh… you’d be wrong.

Matt Reeves and his crew got it very, very right. Here’s how:

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5 responses so far


Jul 21 2014

A Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball 3 Wish List

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A lot of people who have been following the stuff I write online know that I am in love with the video game Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball series. I recently discovered that a third game is indeed in development, but the bad news is that it will be delayed. I wasn’t that disappointed with the news because I’m glad that Tecmo finally acknowledged that there will even be another game for the fighting game’s spin-off.

Consequently, this made me think about the things I want to see in the next game. Some people even joked that the reason behind the delay is because the boob physics aren’t up to par. Yes, I’m sure a lot of fans would like to see that improved on the latest generation of consoles. Joking aside, the series deserves a lot more credit with its other features besides the partial nudity and innuendo.

What am I looking forward to in the third game?

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3 responses so far


Jul 08 2014

“What is Bayhem?”: Dissecting the Awful, Inimitable Style of Michael Bay

Published by under Uncategorized

This whole Michael Bay thing has gotten out of hand. Every time he puts out another equally bad movie, the conversation about it goes through the same motions: He’s terrible, but his movies look great, but his action is incoherent, but people love it anyway. It’s weird that someone who makes such objectively dumb movies can be so polarizing.

I’m probably as guilty as anybody, by the way. There’s just something compelling about the absolute badness that defines a Bay film.

Enter Tony Zhou, whose latest installment on his Vimeo channel “Every Frame a Painting” gets right to the heart of the issue. Zhou’s been consistently great for several weeks now. This particular piece takes eight minutes (ish) to break down Michael Bay’s style, and why it inspires such simultaneous delight and revulsion in his audiences.

Check it out, and then take to the comments to either bitch about Bay some more or explain why him being good at action makes it okay for him to keep churning out awful movies.

 

3 responses so far


Jul 04 2014

Happy Fourth of July!

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Have a great weekend, US folks! We’ll see you back here on Monday.

God, if the ’90s was a singular comic book character, it would be Jubilee.

One response so far


Jun 26 2014

A Totally Bitchin’ 80s Game of Thrones Synth Theme

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Mixmaster extraordinaire Steve Duzz (that makes him sound like a Beastie Boy), was apparently very much inspired by Mike Wrobel’s Game of Thrones art. So much so that he decided to record a dance synth version of the show’s famous theme, which you can check out above. If you’re not grooving to it within 30 seconds, I don’t know what’s wrong with you.

I love Game of Thrones, but they really do have to stop using literally a zillion variations of the same two songs over and over, the theme and of course, The Rains of Castemere, which now plays when absolutely anything good OR bad happens to the Lannisters. Or really anybody.

One response so far


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