Thoughts on: How To Improve Cinematic Universes

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For better or worse Cinematic Universes are becoming an ever prominent part of the modern movie goers cinematic diet.  And like with any other form of art and entertainment each has their own strengths and weaknesses, though what those are will of course vary from person to person.  However as a fellow purveyor of the cinematic arts I though I would give my two cents on how studios, critic and fans alike could possibly improve on these in the future.  So without further ado, lets get things started.

 

 

 

  1. Accept That Different Tones are Good & Necessary.

One of the sad truths of cinematic universes is that they can all to easily become rather repetitive or monotone in nature.  This can be in the form of being far to light hearted or “fun” as some call it, or far to grim & dower.  This is rather restrictive as many times the comics or properties these universes are based on have many characters with content of various tones and themes.  Not every movie needs to be light hearted and “fun” or dark, serious and philosophical.  There is room for both extremes mind you, but like the characters themselves the movies should be able to have more then one tone to them.  For example, it is OK to make a movie about Thor more serious then a movie about the Guardians of The Galaxy, even though Marvel sadly doesn’t seem to think that is the case.  On the DC side of things if they ever made a Blue Beetle & Booster Gold movie, I would expect it to be more comedic and light hearted then a Batman or Deathstroke movie.  It is important to make the tone of the film match the tone of the character as opposed to everything having to fit into a narrow “fun & lighthearted” or “dark & serious” extreme.  Superheroes have a very diverse range of tones for stories and Hollywood would be wise to explore more of these, and critics and fans would be wise as to be more open minded to superhero stories with these characters that don’t just follow the generic MCU mold.

 

2. Stop The Juvenile Fan Wars.

Fans on both sides of the fence, be it the MCU or DCEU have become highly toxic towards each other as well as to themselves.  what is even worse is so called professional critics also engage in this ridiculous behavior to fan the flames of drama and controversy thus like a cruel right wing politician legitimatize and normalize such juvenile and toxic behaviors amongst both fan and critic communities which is unhealthy not just for set fan bases but for CBM’s, cinematic universes and the art of cinema as a whole.  This false sense of elitism and pointless desire to create division and rivalries where none are needed is as old as human culture itself, but like with any part of life it serves no purpose but to harm and like with those other aspects it must be fought against and stopped.

 

3. Do More Then Just Superheroes

As much as I love comic books and superheroes there is potential for non CBM universes as well.  Decades of animation, film and literature have also provided ample opportunity for cinematic universes based on beloved cartoon and movie properties of the past, and if utilized properly and given to diverse voices to direct and produce you could make unique and entertaining worlds for all to enjoy with them.

 

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4. More Diversity in Directorial Positions and Film Decisions.

Despite what the bigots of the world may say, diversity is a natural part of the human experience and a natural part of life in general.  So yes we do need more movies with female directors, more movies by Men & Women of color, Asian, Hispanic, middle eastern and LBGTQ directors, writers, producers and staff.  We need diverse heroes like Static Shock, Vixen, Ms. Marvel, Moon Girl, Miles Morales, The Ray, Midnighter & Apallo, etc .

 

 

Overall I believe these small changes and acknowledgements could greatly improve the future of CBM’s and cinematic universes in general.  But hey, that’s just my 2-cents.

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BUG! The Adventures of Forager #1 Review

Publisher: DC Comics608

Written By:  Lee & Micael Allred

Art By: Lee & Laura Allred

Letters By:  Nate Piekos of Blambot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ever since last fall when DC Comics launched its new Young Animal imprint fans have been eagerly awaiting to see what would come from it once it expanded beyond its initial four premiere titles.  Well this week the fifth series and first mini to launch from the line has begun and it is a rip-roaring adventure through time, space and the Multiverse with the best hero you’ve never heard of Bug The Forager.  So get your mother boxes ready and let the journey begin.

 

The book starts out by giving us some brief flashbacks to Bug’s previous and supposedly final adventure before having the titular hero wake up and find himself encased in a cocoon inside of a basement.  He looks around and finds a mysterious talking teddy bear that is quickly snatched by an equally mysterious ghost girl whom he follows up the stairs until he runs into a group of monsters that he must fight off before meeting up with the girl once more in a room full of dominos that mimic a motherbox switchboard diagram.  The dominos drop and our hero is given multiple vision of other heroes in need of help throughout the Multiverse.  After this ordeal Bug is found by two more creepy creatures who happen to be servants of the silver age Sandman.  He explains there are here to find “The Dreamer” whom he believes Forager to be and that he needs BUG to wake up if he isn’t already dead that is.  The reason for this is because he needs BUG to help him find one of the rarest metals in all the Multiverse, one that can make dreams reality.  Shortly after being awoken the group is attacked by General Electric a mad scientist in search of the same power as Sandman & BUG.  The first issue ends with BUG stepping through a dimensional portal to parts unknown.

 

 

Overall in terms of story the book is the highly enjoyable retro surrealist kind of tale we have come to expect from both the Young Animal Line and Allred himself.  The book pays tribute to what has come before while still paving the way for something new while setting up an interesting story and mystery for the rest of the series to follow-up on.  The inclusion of lesser known characters like the Silver Age Sandman are a nice plus and really help showcase the scope of the DCU even when the majority of your book takes place in a dream house.  General Electric while a somewhat cheesy villain is introduced in a very fun and bombastic way and the magical McGuffins of the metal and dream whistles actually fit into the story quite well.  The art is also fantastic as it to features Allred’s unique form and style that manages to make the characters feel lively and dynamic and making each one feel unique while still being a working homogeneous part of the same story and world.  If there are any complaints to be had it would be the book does seem to jump around a bit but that only adds to the surrealist feel and style of the work.

 

Overall I would say BUG! The Adventures of Forager is a worthy addition to any DC/Young Animal fans collection.

 

Final Score

Story: 8.5

Art: 8

Overall: 8.5

  Predator: Hunters #1 Review

Published By: Dark Horse Comics

Written By: Chris Warnar

Art By: Fransisco Ruiz Velasco

Lettered By: Michael Heisler


    Dark Horse Comics has been publishing Predator Comics for decades and from Aliens to Batman to Terminators the celestial hunters have gone against many worthy foes, however in this latest series humanity fights back and the hunters become the hunted.
  The book starts out as usual with a group of humans being hunted by the predator with all but one being killed by the beast.  We cut away to a gas station where our main character Nakai is being harassed by his racist redneck boss as he repairs a car.  Shortly after a mysterious trio arrives at the station and confronts Mr. Nakai.  They ask him what experience he has with Predators and he tells them his story.  The trio run by Jaya Soanes then reveal that they are Predator hunters and that they have also survived encounters with or descend from those that hunted the monsters and would like Nakai to join their group.  At first he is reluctant, but eventually he decides to tell off his racist boss and join the team.

 In terms of story the first issue is unsurprisingly primarily set-up and while we do get some brief predator action at the start and via flashbacks most of the issue focuses on setting up the characters and their relation to the extraterrestrial beast.  It isn’t the most entertaining read but it is well executed and gives us decent backgrounds for our human cast and the Predator moments are fairly well done.

 The art by Valesco seems a bit on the genaric side of things but it is done well enough to where the story is fairly easy to follow and the Predator is still intimidating.

  Overall this is a decent start to the mini-series, if not a somewhat subdued one given the premise of the story.

Final Rating

Story: 7

Art: 6

Overall: 6.5

Thoughts on: Ben10 Reboot! (2017)

 

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Reboots & Launches of popular IP’s are common place in American media, especially amongst series in the superhero genre.  It is a way for companies to publishers to keep their characters fresh and relevant for a new generation of readers and viewers.  However like with anything else the various incarnations of these heroes can be met with positive or negative feedback from their fans.  Today we will take a look at one of the newest heroes to get a reboot; Ben10!

 

First off I will admit right off the bat that growing up as a kid I despised the original Ben10 and really never had any interest in its various sequels /movies /spinoffs /specials /etc.   And this was because around the time Ben10 originally aired in the middle of the 00’s like many I was a teenager in that “everything replacing the shows I used to watch sucks” phase. To me Ben10 was just a wannabe a show that tried to capture the spirit of popular DC superhero cartoons and anime without putting any of the effort in.  I acknowledge though I was most likely in the minority of individuals in that mindset as the series became one of Cartoon Network’s most popular original series for a good number of years not only amongst those who were kids in the ought’s but  some nineties kids as well who saw it as one of the last hold outs of shows with that classic action cartoon vibe to it, and I can see where they are coming from, looking back the original Ben10 has that late 90’s Saturday morning cartoon feel to it to a degree, however even looking at the previous incarnation from a more objective and mature standpoint I still can’t say I care for it all that much.

 

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So here is where I will most likely get a fair amount of shade thrown at me, but oh well.  Overall I find the 2017 incarnation of Ben10 to be the most entertaining version yet!  The characters are all fairly lively and Ben & Gwen act like real kids not just stereotypes of what adults think kids act like, they have fun, relax and bicker with each other but not to a cliché extreme like the originals did. This gives their dynamic a more natural feel which benefits both characters and makes both much less annoying than they were in the past.  The color pallet of the show is also much brighter and more visually appealing and the characters redesigns really breath new life into them and visually it seems to fit somewhere between Be Cool Scooby Doo and Gravity Falls, making for a cute yet quirky visual experience. The shortened run-time of episodes also helps the series in my opinion because like with the original Powerpuff Girls or Courage it feels like something is always happening, it is fast paced enough to keep the viewer engaged in the episode while still being contained enough to not feel as disjointed and manic as something like Teen Titans Go!  While like TTG & last years PPG reboot it is more on the comedic side than the action side it never feels like it is over doing it, there is a good balance between humor and action that in my book puts the show closer to series like Regular Show, only instead of two friends working at a park this is two kids spending the summer traveling the U.S. with their Grandpa.   Overall I just find this new version much more enjoyable and entertaining.

 

At the end of the day like with any reboot or reimagining your personal enjoyment of this series will vary and I understand why some hardcore fans of the original series may not be on board with this new incarnation and that like TTG! and PPG16 that it will be yet another show that will be divisive amongst Cartoon Network and Superhero fans.  I myself though would urge to give the show a chance, if you are a 90’s kid you should have grown out of your “everything sucks” stage by now and to all those ought’s babies out there don’t make the same mistakes we did, don’t let nostalgia goggles and confirmation bias cloud your judgement take in every new experience you have, even something as simple as watching a cartoon with all the same innocence you did as a child, let a work speak for itself and analyze how it holds up on its own terms not how it works compared to the past.  If you like it great and if you still dislike it that’s fine too.  I guess all I am saying is, give the new Ben10 a chance!  If you do I think you might just be pleasantly surprised. 😉

 

Season 1 of Ben10 2017 is currently airing weekdays on Cartoon Network.

Green Lantern/Space Ghost Special #1 Review

Publisher: DC ComicsSpace-Ghost-Green-Lantern-Annual

 Written By: James Tynion IV, Christopher Sebala, Howard Charkin

Art By: Ariel Olivetti, Wil Quintana

Letters By: A Larger World Studios, Pat Brosseau

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The third DC/Hanna-Barbera Special stars two of the most well known Galaxy Guarding heroes Green Lantern Hal Jordan and Space Ghost in a tumultuous trek for the ages.

 

The issue begins with Hal Jordan responding to a distress call about a great weapon from a planet so far at the far off edge of the Universe that is actually considered to be in an entirely different dimension.  While traveling to the planet he is attacked by Larfleeze and the minions of Zorak who are also after the weapon.  This leads Hal to be confronted by Space Ghost who mistakes him for an enemy and leads to a fight which causes the two to come crashing down to the planet below.  Once down on the planets surface they have to flee from a hostile military and take refuge at the home of a young girl and her uncle who is an inventor, the two explain to them that the residents of the planet have been told that there is no such thing as space and stars and that they are all alone in the universe.  The uncle had sent out the message to attract outside life and prove the militaristic government wrong.  He also said the weapon was a mistranslation and it was a vehicle he was making not a device of destruction.  However the military catches up to the two heroes and Space Ghost and Hal must team-up to fight them off, but not before the Uncle is severely wounded.  In his dying moments he asks the two to take him into space so he can see it just once before he dies.  They do so and the old man finally finds peace. Later Space Ghost and Hal Jordan return to the planet and reveal their truth to the people.  The book ends with the two parting ways hoping to meet again someday and a flash-forward to years later when the young girl is heading into space and looking forward to meeting her heroes once more.

The back-up consists of a short modernization of Ruff & Reddy that is a short prologue  setting up for future tales

 

In terms of story the Green Lantern/Space Ghost Special may not be the strongest in terms of story but the story it does tell is still poignant and well executed.  The morals of the destructive nature and lies of an authoritarian society are especially relevant in modern times and  the moment where Hal and Space Ghost show the uncle space for the first and last time is genuinely touching.  The action is hit and miss, but the actual interaction between the two heroes showing how their personalities contrast in philosophy but compare where it counts makes for some interesting dialogue between the two.  The back-up Ruff & Reddy strip however is fairly weak and does nothing to make me want to read more of the characters adventures in the future.

 

In terms of art Ariel Olivetti does a masterful job on the art and colors giving the main story a level of realism and depth while still showcasing the grander scope of space in a way that makes the entire story feel rather cinematic.  Quintana’s art on the back-up strip is much more simplistic and cartoony but that plays to the strength of the characters used in set strip.

 

Overall Green Lantern/Space Ghost is a fairly well constructed story with beautiful art that leaves you wanting to see more of both of the title heroes in the future.

 

Final Grade

Story: 8

Art: 10

Overall: 9 out of 10