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Thursday, May 29, 2014

My Opinion on Godzilla 2014

Beware! Here be spoilers!

Sorry, but I can't adequately talk about this movie with spoiling some things, so if you haven't seen this film yet, come back to this post later.

No kidding.

Alright, here we go.

The short version of it is this movie is a throwback to the classic 1960's Godzilla films by Toho. I mean that will all respect and reverence, since I absolutely LOVE those movies. Yes, they are cheesy, but that's part of the fun. While this film is more serious in tone, it still knows where it came from, and that is what makes it cool.

Here is what I liked:

  • Godzilla doesn't appear until late in the movie.
    • While most people find this to be a bad thing, I'm glad that they reigned in the Big G for this. Not only is it more like the original movies, but it builds the tension as to whether he will show up in time. Plus, it gives us that great reveal at the airport, where the camera just keeps going up and you realize just how huge he is.
  • Godzilla is the hero!
    • That's right! The heroic, kick other monsters' asses Godzilla is back! For as long as I can remember, I've thought of Godzilla as a hero. Part of that is from the cartoon, but mostly it is from the movies. It's nice to see him back in that role, since that means I can cheer for him.
  • Godzilla looks and sounds like he should.
    • No, he's not a guy in a suit, but the proportions are such that he could be. There is a weight to Godzilla that makes him believable, and it's still the classic look. Not to mention that the classic roar is there. Subtle, yes, but it's there.
  • Godzilla fights like he should.
    • Yes, this version is more animal like, but he still fights upright, throwing punches and tail whips around. The best one, though, was when the female Muto is on the ground and we get a good, old fashioned Godzilla Neck Stomp!
  • Two words. Radioactive Breath!
    • I nearly jumped up from my seat when I saw this the first time. The tail spikes started to glow and my thought was, "No. They can't be." But they did. They gave me a geekout that I haven't experienced since the end of "Day of the Doctor". (BTW, don't click the link unless you've seen that all the way through.)
  • The family story with Ford
    • This is a nice story arc to the movie, and works to draw the audience in. Bryan Cranston's performance was outstanding, especially in the very beginning. The scenes at the reactor were an unexpected punch in the gut, and he handled those very well.
  • The happy ending
    • Yup, we get a happy ending in a monster movie. Probably very unexpected to those not familiar with old school Godzilla.

And here is what I wasn't too crazy about:
  • The news coverage at the end.
    • While the "King of the Monsters" tag was a nice treat, I do have a problem with everyone in San Francisco thinking of Godzilla as a hero. He did kill a huge bunch of people in Hawaii, and the amount of destruction, while not in the Man of Steel category, is still massive.
  • Aaron Taylor-Johnson's portrayal of a military man
    • Don't get me wrong, I think he did a great job as a concerned husband/father/son, I just didn't buy him as military. There was something off about his bearing, especially around superior officers.

Overall, I loved this movie, warts and all. If you are any fan of Godzilla from the olden days, you will be pleased. I just hope the sequel (now green lit) maintains the same feel as this one.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Longbox Project

I wanted to let you all know about something that I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy. It's a website called The Longbox Project and it is devoted to personal stories about comics. Not in a general sense, but specific memories/experiences about particular issues.

Max Delgado, the gentleman who runs the site, was kind enough to post my submission about my first ever comic. Now, while you might know about my connection to The Incredible Hulk #267, you don't know all the details.

There are a lot of stories like mine out there, and Max is always looking for more to post. So check it out, read the stories and you might just be touched enough by the muse to write up something yourself.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Sick of my voice yet?

I sure hope not, because I've got 3, Count 'Em 3!, new podcasts for you to listen to starting yours truly. First of all, we have the latest edition of The Hammer Podcasts! in which I talk about my interest in Mythology and Legend. It's a short one this time, since I had a vacation in there but I wanted to get something out.
The Hammer Podcasts - Episode 3 - Mythology

The second one is the Two True Freaks look at Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Join our "all star" round table as we let you know what we thought of the latest, and some would say greatest, Marvel movie.
Two True Freaks Episode 418 - The 5 Minute Freak Winter Soldier Roundtable

Last, and certainly not least, we have my recent guest spot on Converse in the Ninjaverse, where Chris, Mike and I talk about the upcoming summer movies, bash Batman, rag on Revolution, and generally have a good time.
Converse in the Ninjaverse - Episode 79

And, if you're feeling particularly brave, you can watch Converse in the Ninjaverse on YouTube!

But before you watch that video, you have to watch this one. Referenced in the episode and just a sight to behold.

Many thanks to everyone who stooped low enough to have me on their show.

BTW, if you like The Hammer Podcasts!, why not head on over to iTunes and give me a review.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Bane of my Vacation

My family recently got back from our first true family vacation and, since my daughter is 5, we figured that it was a great time to go to Walt Disney World for her first visit. We had a great time and saw everything that we wanted to, some things multiple times. There is one thing that I would change if I could, though, and that would be the strollers.

Here's the thing, my daughter is 5 and she has a hip problem that means one of her feet turns in too much, and she was able to walk everywhere we went. For 10 days at Walt Disney World she walked, usually at a good pace, and was not once carried. However, there were people there that had stroller for kids older/bigger than her. Then there were the people, yes more than one, who had babies that were only a few months old. Can anyone tell me what a baby that young is getting out of WDW?

So I've come up with a handy list of things that you should consider if you are going to any theme park, but mainly Walt Disney World, and have children.

  1. If your child is so young that they cannot walk around the park all day, they are too young to go there. The whole point of going to a park like this with kids is so that they have a good time. If they are that young that they can't walk on their own for an extended period, then they either won't be able to go on a good number of rides, or they simply won't have any idea what is going on.
  2. Strollers, at least from what I have seen in the park, are a hassle. They have to be parked somewhere before you get in line for something, meaning that you're leaving your property out in the open, unguarded. You also can't set them up near the trams in the parking lots, so you have to walk with the kid out a ways anyway.
  3. You don't get to cut in line. Period. Just because you have a stroller doesn't give you a special jump in the wait. You actually have to take longer to get to where your going due to the stroller parking I mentioned above.
  4. Have you ever been walking on a sidewalk behind a group of people who are talking and going so slow that they might as well be stopped? That's what people with strollers are like in these parks. I was in Orlando for two weeks and didn't see anyone pushing a stroller that looked like they had somewhere to go.

Bottom line: Strollers are more of a hassle than they're worth and only serve to annoy EVERYONE ELSE in the park. LEAVE THEM HOME!!!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Thor’s Day – Thor #346

  Today we’ll be looking back at a classic comic from my collection.

Series:                                  Thor (Volume 1)
Issue:                                    346
Title:                                     “The Wild Hunt!”
Story & Pencils:                Walter Simonson
Inks:                                      Terry Austin
Colors:                                  Christie Scheele
Lettering:                            John Workman, Jr.
Editing:                                Mark Gruenwald
Editor In Chief:                 Jim Shooter
Cover:                                   Walter Simonson

We open in New York City at night time.  Roger Willis, of Long Island, is walking down the street musing to himself that he preferred his time in Korea to the current situation, since he knew who the good guys and bad guys were.  He has changed trains and cabs so as to lose anyone following him, and is now on foot in Greenwich Village. A stranger asks him for a light, which he gives the guy, and then is attacked. Roger fights back, flinging the first guy into his oncoming cohorts and catches a cab out of the area.

We switch to Midtown where Thor is in the law offices of Strother and Martin. Mr. Strother is recapping his connection  to Eric Willis to Thor, explain that he carried out all of his instructions but is still worried.  Since Eric mentioned Malekith and the Casket of Ancient Winters, which are references to Norse Mythology, Strother contacted Thor. Thor takes a picture that Strother had of Eric and flies to the Police precinct where Eric was last seen.

On the West Side, Lorelei is in a singles bar taking all of the attention of the men. She casually mentions that she’s actually Thor’s girlfriend, which causes one of the men to break away and call his master.

Thor arrives at the precinct just as Roger walks through the Lower West Side.  Thor inquires about Eric and is told to take a seat while they bring him out. Thor takes one of the cookies offered to him and comments how it has an odd taste. The officers then tell him that it is the enchanted food of Faerie and he will never taste anything else, for his will is being taken over.  Thor pretends weakness until Malekith’s name is mentioned and his plans reveiled, when he summons the lightning and knocks them out.

Roger, meanwhile, is climbing a ladder to get to the underside of an abandoned portion of highway. What he finds is the Casket of Ancient Winters.  He puts it in a Macy’s bag to disguise it and walks off.  Just then Malekith, who had learned the Casket’s location last issue, arrives and finds it gone.  He pulls out an elaborate horn and calls in The Wild Hunt, but also alerts Thor that something is up.

Roger, now in a cab, is stuck in traffic on the Queensboro Bridge. He hears a howling, looks up and sees a huge amount of demon dogs flying down towards him.  Roger, the cabbie and all the other drivers get out of their cars and run. Roger manages to shoot one of the dogs before it gets to him, but is then attacked by the Master of the Hunt, who is wielding a spear and riding a demon horse.

Meanwhile, in the wasteland outside of Asgard, Balder comes across a young woman running from a Sand Devil. He grabs a nearby chunk of wood and attacks the creature. Agnar of Vanaheim, who has been trying to catch up with Balder, now sees him run headlong into danger with only a stick of wood as his weapon.

Back on Earth, Roger shoots the mount and kills it.  The Huntsman is angered by this and moves to attack him on foot, but he is hit with a bolt of lightning before he gets close enough.  The Huntsman changes shape back to Malekith as Thor arrives. The hounds now attack both Roger and Thor.

We now switch to the Smith, now revealed to be Surtur of Muspell, Lord of the Fire Demons, towering over his army with the sword, Twilight, in his hands, calling to “Sound the battlecry that all who live may hear it and despair!”

Back on the bridge, Thor and Roger are fighting a losing battle, until Thor attacks Malekith with an I-Beam. Noticing that the pack had not attacked en-mass, Thor realized that the steel of the bridge was keeping them at bay.  Since Cold Iron is the bane of all Faerie, the I-Beam hurts Malekith sufficiently that he and the pack flee, the hounds back to Faerie and Malekith to Lorelei’s apartment.

Thor and Roger compare notes and Roger reveals that he is Eric’s son, even though he looks old enough to be Eric’s father, due to the enchantment of the Casket.  Thor takes Eric to Melody’s (who is Lorelei in disguise) apartment in his guise of Sigurd Jarlson.  Melody offers Sigurd a drink, which he accepts. This is the magical Golden Mead that she has been preparing to entrance Thor, and it works! Melody is shown to be nothing but an enchanted piece of wood, which tells Thor to bring the Casket to the Cotswolds of England in exchange for his beloved.  Thor swears to do so.

Where it comes from: This is an interesting take on The Wild Hunt, since the Hunt is traditionally led by Wotan (aka Odin).  It makes me wonder whether Odin gave that responsibility to the Dark Elves at some point or if he only was included as an honorary member from the beginning. Either way, it seems as if the Hunt disappeared once Malakith was banished, since they haven’t been running around under another Huntsman. It’s possible that the horn was kept in Svartalfheim but, if it was, I doubt that another Dark Elf would have used it.

Thor getting enchanted finally pays off the sub-plot that started way back in Issue 338, where Loki tells Lorelei that she will succeed where the Entrantress has failed.  I doubt that she would have wanted to succeed in this particular way, getting kidnapped, but it’s probably an ends justify the means kind of thing. It also leads us to some interesting stories ahead.

On to the big bad guy that was just revealed, Surtur (or Surtr in the original spelling). This is the oldest being in existence, according to the Norse Lore, and ruler of the Land of Fire, Muspell, one of the two original worlds. Surtur has been trapped in Muspell since ancient times and has a mad on for Odin and the Asgardians. Surtur is destined to light fire to the worlds during Ragnarok and bring about the end of all things. Not someone you want to mess with.

Next time Thor and Roger travel to England and confront Malekith!