Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Great Composers You Ought To Know: Reijiro Koroku Pt. 2

Pictured: Japanese composer, Reijiro Koroku.

I didn’t plan on dividing this post over 2 days, but as fate would have it, I just had too damn much to say!

That being said, today we’ll be continuing our look at some of my favorite works of composer Reijiro Koroku.

After Godzilla 1984, the next big soundtrack I can remember hearing from Koroku, was his work on the Kyoshoku Soko Guyver OVA series.

Guyver: The Man-Boobs That Kill.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this blog, my cousin back in Hawaii turned me on to the Guyver manga way back in the day, and ever since it’s served as a huge influence on my creativity.

Something about the incredibly detailed, yet purposely hoaky character designs, combined with the darkness and severity of the storyline resonated with me in a way that makes me hopeful the manga will eventually reach a logical conclusion.

On that note, when I first found out that a Guyver anime existed way back in the day, you can sure as hell bet I went out of my way to track it down as soon as I could.

Unfortunately, as it turns out the 12 part OVA series was actually kind of ho-hum, even by the standards of an impressionable grade-schooler.

The voice cast was pretty good, and the animation was decent if not inconsistent, however the plot was an absolutely horrid distillation of the source material, cutting short many memorable sequences, and outright ignoring a number of important story beats.

Oh yeah, and unless you want to see some of the most hideous animation ever put to film this side of a budget hentai, then you’ll probably want to avoid even looking at a single frame of episodes 7 and beyond.

Aw, come on! Drawing gray bubbles on someone to symbolize melting DOES NOT count as legitimate animation!

Seriously, I loves me some Guyver, but that was some ugly shit.

That ugliness aside, much like the not-always-so-fondly-remembered Godzilla 1984, the Guyver OVA just happened to benefit from an incredible soundtrack courtesy of Reijiro Koroku.

Though the music is stylistically very similar to his work in Godzilla 1984 just a few years earlier, Koroku’s Guyver soundtrack incorporates synthesizer and electric guitar in many of the tracks.

What can I say, it was the late 80’s and synthesizers were very much “in” at the time.

That’s not to say Koroku’s more electronic approach to the Guyver soundtrack was at all a poor choice.

Heavily inspired by tokusatsu heroes like Kamen Rider and Kikaida, Guyver’s inherently tragic character and brutally violent atmosphere made the property a perfect match for Reijiro Koroku’s potent melodramatic style.

Just give a listen to probably my favorite track in the series, included in the first third of this video, to see what I mean:

Once again brooding and downright creepy at times, Koroku’s score for Guyver shows a great deal of restraint for what basically amounts to a superhero story, however in many ways I feel this is it’s strength.

Like chanbara films of old, the style of action present in Guyver is largely efficient, with each movement and attack being distinct as opposed to the more repetitive style found in Dragonball Z among other things:

I sincerely apologize if you were dumb enough to watch all of that.

Because of this, the music actually benefits from keeping it’s crescendos in check, as otherwise the music would overpower the intensely violent, but relatively low energy nature of the onscreen action.

This track, once again featured in the first third of this clip, serves as perhaps one of the better examples of how Koroku’s powerful, but relatively lax music could effectively supply the series with solid action beats:

Despite how much I love the soundtrack for Guyver, the one downside to it is that the score is very limited in terms of breadth.

Composed largely in suites intended to be recycled throughout the series, the music is quite beautiful by itself, but loses some of it’s luster when heard in the OVA, as the tracks become repetitive after a time, and as such, lose their distinction and sense of place.

Even so, the Guyver OVA soundtrack was once of the first import CDs I ever purchased, and to this day I’m glad I picked it up.

Moving on, the last time I can recall hearing Reijiro Koroku’s music, was from his work on the early PS2 title, Kessen and it’s sequels.

That's a pimp-ass mustache.

An RTS set in the Japanese warring states period, Kessen was a big hit that enjoyed several sequels, however it’s not one that I ever really got caught up in.

Chances are I was to busy playing garbage like Street Fighter EX 3 to give a shit about Kessen.

Despite my lack of appreciation for it, Kessen’s music was a whole ‘nother story altogether.

Truth be told, much like was the case with Noozles, I wasn’t aware that Koroku had done the soundtrack for Kessen, however when I did learn of this, I was not at all surprised given his track record.

Booming and proud, the soundtrack for Kessen brings to mind Koroku’s military marches for Godzilla 1984:

Lacking the brooding tone of Koroku’s previous works mentioned earlier, the Kessen series had an appropriately colorful sound to it, though one that was quite dignified despite it’s epic scale and over-the-top design aesthetics.

It’s funny, hearing this music again kind of makes me want to go back and actually give Kessen a try.

Based on what I remember hearing of it, I doubt I’d be disappointed if I did.

Anyway, that’s about everything I could think of to say about Reijiro Koroku.

Hopefully you learned something over these past 2 days, and if not, at least you got to hear to some nice music!

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Filed under: Comics, Games, Great Composers You Ought To Know, Movies, Tokusatsu, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Zack Snyder’s Superman Looks Like… Every Zack Snyder Movie Ever

At this point you’ve probably heard that CGI and slow motion enthusiast Zack Snyder will be directing the next Superman film.

If not, congratulation, you have a life and are not a hopeless comic book dork like myself.

As tends to be the case when films make as much money as The Dark Knight did, the folks over at Warner Bros decided to hop on the “let’s not feature the name of the title character in the title” bandwagon, and went ahead and called the film The Man of Steel.

Far be it from me to say that there’s anything wrong with a movie called The Man of Steel, but to me the logic behind that decision seems more than a little transparent.

*ANYWAY* The photo at the top of this post is the first promotional image to be released featuring Henry Cavil donning the iconic Superman costume.

Truth be told, I couldn’t tell you, nor give a fuck to learn, just who Henry Cavil is, or what he’s done; but oh well, I’m just here to talk about the costume.

Strangely enough, the first thing I noticed about this image, was the post-processing and color correction that went into manufacturing it.

Simply put, Zack Snyder’s films have a “look” to them.

In fact, with the exception of the Guardians of Ga’Who-Gives-A-Fuck, an animated children’s film; they all have the same damn “look” to them.

Even though it’s not at all achieved through the use of a filter, I like to call it the “Zack Snyder Filter”:

Zack Snyder: The Unreal Engine of Hollywood

Oh well, I suppose consistency like this is easy to achieve, and mostly forgiveable; when the man’s only made about 5 movies…

Anyway, in looking at the Superman image above, it’s pretty clear that The Man of Steel is going to embody the same aesthetic that Zack Snyder has utilized in virtually all of his films.

That is to say, everything will be grainy and metallic/bronzed, and there will be much slow motion fighting for the sake of… Well, slow motion fighting.

Replace Goku and Frieza with Superman and General Zod and you have Zack Snyder's Superman.

Moving on to the actual costume, in all honesty; I don’t hate it.

Superman’s costume is iconic to the point of being one of, if not the best superhero designs of all time.

To attempt any sort of radical change to the traditional costume is betray the fanbase, shit on the character, and ultimately throw away one of the most perfect distillations of the archetypal golden age caped superhero design.

In other words, when it comes to Superman, you just plain DON’T fuck with the costume.

Otherwise you end up with shit like the “blue” Superman of the 90’s:

May we never speak of this again...

Bearing more than a passing resemblance to the similarly muted Superman Returns costume, The Man of Steel costume seems to keep everything you’d expect in a Superman costume, while bringing very little new to the table.

Oddly enough, the one notable unique quality of the new costume, is the almost chain mail like texture to it.

Bearing more than a passing resemblance to the various Spider-Man movie costumes, as well as some of the redesigns for the Watchmen movie, I find this texture to be distracting and excessively gaudy.

Then again, Zack Snyder films have a tendency to be excessively gaudy as a whole, which would probably result in said extraneous details to be more consistent with the aesthetic of the film, rather than overly extravagant.

In case you couldn’t tell, Zack Snyder would not have been my first choice as director for a Superman film.

Then again, I haven’t really liked a Superman movie since the second one; so it’s hard to say if I’d have confidence in anyone to do justice to the Man of Steel.

Anyway, the costume is kind of “meh,” Henry Cavil has failed to generate enough interest for me to even take a peek at his Imdb page; and in general, I really see no reason to be excited about The Man of Steel at this point.

The Dark Knight Rises on the other hand, now that’s a movie to flip out about and irrationally anticipate despite it’s release date being WAY the fuck out there…

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What’s The Deal With Asura’s Wrath?

(E3 Footage HERE)

Today I decided to sit down and watch some of the demo footage from this year’s E3.

While I’ve been (halfheartedly) following some of the news from E3, truth be told; today marked the first instance in which I actually watched any footage from it.

Given that I see myself as kind of a Capcom whore, the game I decided to check out was their enigmatic and supposedly “different” upcoming game, Asura’s Wrath.

At first glance, the game seemed pretty decent; but within the span of literally 2-3 seconds, my impression of it changed dramatically.

In case you’re wondering, the character designs were the one major positive I took from the videos I watched.

Pretty pimp...

The 2-3 or character models (2 if you only include major characters, 3 if you count generic enemy fodder) featured in the trailers were all striking and wholly unique, with some pretty fluid animations to boot.

Outside of the character models though, everything I’ve seen from Asura’s Wrath managed to rub me the wrong way.

Despite the beauty of the characters, the backgrounds and scenery were bland and simplistic; bearing a color palette of the Gears of War 1 style “gray and brown.”

The voice acting is atrocious, not only in terms of quality of performance, but also in terms of the actual sound of it.

Also on the audio side of things, the music was mindblowing-ly lazy, with about 15 minutes worth of “intense” in-game footage playing host to a boring drone akin to the early seasons of the American Dragonball Z dub.

Speaking of Dragonball Z, Asura’s Wrath clearly seems to draw a lot of inspiration from it, not just in terms of aesthetic, but also in terms of pacing.

Basically, the formula goes:

Inane and indecipherable dialogue, followed by manic action scene, followed by another inane indecipherable dialogue scene, followed by power-up scene, followed up by dramatic epiphany, followed by even more dramatic power-up scene.

*Sigh* How many years of my life did I devote to watching this exact frame played over and over and over again?...

I swear, all they needed to do was insert a cut away or 2 of grass blowing in the wind, and Asura’s Wrath would straight up be Dragonball Z.

Maybe it’s just because I’m older, but for whatever reason; I just can’t play along with these old fashioned anime tropes anymore…

So far I’ve spent this whole article harping on Asura’s Wrath from face value alone.

Truth be told, that’s where most of my complaints lie, however I do in fact have a gripe or 2 about the gameplay (from what I could derive from the in-game footage).

First and foremost of these complaints is of course:

Is there any gameplay?

While it’s of course far too early to make any serious speculation, from what I could tell from the footage I viewed, Asura’s Wrath has a God of War/Devil May Cry/Ninja Gaiden/Bayonetta/Heavenly Sword/Dante’s Inferno/Etc. action mechanic.

There are attack buttons, there is a shoot button, and there is a context sensitive counter button.

With the exception of the counter button, these buttons are used maybe 5 times over the course of the trailer.

It was actually kind of funny watching the player use the shoot button, as he never really seemed to get the hang of the aiming mechanic; which resulted in him taking damage whenever he tried to use it.

Not that the game ever really seemed to offer any sort of challenge that required him to…

The vast majority of the 15-20 minutes of footage that I viewed, all taken from a boss fight mind you; involved extremely simplistic quick time events.

By “extremely simplistic,” I mean, “if you fail one of these, congratulations; you are a retard.”

The point is, I spent 20 minutes watching in-game footage of a game that looked kind of cool, sounded really dumb, and only asks you to touch the controller once every 5 minutes.

...And no, I'm not talking about Metal Gear.

Worse yet, most of the “gameplay” I saw basically involved repetitiously countering or performing a menial task in order to fill a gauge of some sort, activation of which basically rewards you by sending you to the next repetitive portion of the gameplay/cutscene.

Note the repetition of the word “repetition.”

Like virtually everything to come out of Japan, ever; Asura’s Wrath is very high on style, but seriously seems to lack in substance.

Other than the cool visuals, and distinctly anime-like cinematography and pacing, I really can’t figure out what would make it fun to play.

Bayonetta and God of War were quick-time event heavy, however they also had extremely robust gameplay mechanics to one to play around with in between it all.

Again, it’s far too early to make any serious speculation as to exactly what kind of game Asura’s Wrath is, but as of now; my opinion is largely negative.

At this point I’m still just wondering, what’s the deal with Asura’s Wrath?

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Thoughts On Zack Snyder’s Superman

I’ve always felt that Superman was one of the more difficult superheroes to make good stories for.

I like the old-timey nature of the character, and I appreciate the values he represents, but for the most part; Kal-El of Krypton is just too damn powerful for his own good.

Seriously man, you could probably count all of Superman’s known weaknesses/vulnerabilities on 1 hand,

Taking that into account, it’s hard to deny the difficulty writers face when trying to create drama for the man of steel.

Inevitably, most Superman stories end up being centered around a villain scheming to do destroy the Earth/Metropolis/Jimmy the Cub Reporter; thereby testing the heroes’ mettle in an indirect fashion.

Oh Silver Age comics, how I love thee.

While said storytelling device is indeed effective for the most part, honestly; it gets kind of old after awhile.

Watching Superman race to save Lois, or pick up a mountain to save a busload of school kids is fun, but prefer my superheroes’ biggest threats to be of the more direct sort.

In short, I prefer it when my heroes are in just as much peril as the people they are trying to save.

I suppose it should be no surprise that, of all the Superman trades I own; The Death of Superman is easily my favorite.

FUCK YES.

Which brings me to Zack Snyder’s upcoming film, The Man of Steel.

Very little has been publicized in regards to the film’s plot or cast, other than the fact that it’s a *gasp* REBOOT, but given that Snyder is the director; I think we all know what to expect.

Over-the-top imagery and color correction, an overbearing soundtrack, absurd levels of graphic violence, and more than a handful of gratuitous slow-motion fight sequences.

Bingo.

While all of the above do in fact add up to a pretty extravagant audio/visual experience, the sad fact of the matter is that Zach Snyder’s shtick just doesn’t do it for me.

The man definitely has an eye for angles and gorgeous visuals, but of the films of his that I’ve seen, I felt the pacing was meandering at best, and there was a distinct lack of “heart” to the presentation of the story.

That being said, while I have an idea of what to expect from a Zack Snyder Superman, in truth it’s very hard for me to comprehend why he was selected to do it.

Superman fuckin’ is heart.

That's right Mati, show 'em what heart's all about!

Richard Donner’s first 2 Superman films with Christopher Reeve did an incredible job in capturing this aspect of the character, that to this day many people, myself included; still think of Reeve as the finest representation of Superman in any medium.

That's a pretty goofy smirk, but even so; he's still Superman in my book.

In that sense, the new Superman, Henry Cavill; as well as Snyder himself have their work cut out for them.

Hmm, I seem to have gone off on a tangent.

The reason I started this post tonight came as a result of reading that Michael Shannon will be playing General Zod in The Man of Steel.

While I have no doubt that Shannon will do well in the role, as I was very impressed with his performance in Revolutionary Road; it bothers me to know that General Zod is being re-used for the film.

It’s as if the producers/writers are afraid to stray away from the success of Richard Donner’s films.

Superman has a pretty solid gallery of rogues to pick from, and truth be told; aside from Terrence Stamp’s brilliant portrayal of the character in Superman II, General Zod has never really been one of my favorites.

*Sigh* I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of that.

Knowing Zack Snyder, and his penchant for going over-the-top with things; I’m guessing there’s going to be several villains in the film, if not an entire army or some shit.

I’m sorry, but I just can’t picture a Zack Snyder film without a SLOW-MOTION 100-on-1 fight sequence.

In that sense, I’d bet that the movie will reference the recent Last Son and New Krypton storylines; thereby giving Mr. Snyder an excuse to have hundreds of Kryptonians flying around chucking cars at each other.

Pictured: Promotional art for Zack Snyder's Superman.

While that could be fun I guess, honestly I’d at least prefer to see a different villain take center stage.

How about fuckin’ Brainiac?

He’s pretty much at the top tier of Superman’s list of baddies and his back story has been ret-conned to have ties to Kal-El’s origins, what more could you want!?

 

Holy shit, he looks like fuckin' Kojak...

Better yet, since Christopher Nolan’s been kind enough to put Bane in his upcoming The Dark Knight Rises, why not throw everyone a bone and put Doomsday in the new Superman movie?

Sure, he’s not interesting enough to carry a whole movie, but goddamnit; Superman’s at his best when he’s punching things, and Doomsday’s one of the only baddies he’s got that he can really slug it out with.

While I’m the topic of punching things, why not give us some Metallo action!?

 

Who the fuck wouldn't want THIS in their movie!?

Oh yeah, ’cause Metallo’s boring and nobody likes him…

But c’mon man, he looked like James Coburn in the cartoon, surely that has to count for something:

 

"You know what time it is? Time me for to kick your ass..."

I apologize, I’m rambling.

My point is:

Superman Returns made the mistake of playing it way too safe, and in the process brought nothing new to the table; least of all villains or characters.

While Zack Snyder’s excessive style can be obnoxious at times, he has an opportunity to really try something different with his take on Superman; and I’d hate to see that hindered by a story that recycles villains used in films made almost 40 years ago.

That being said, here’s hoping that for fuckin’ once we get to see a Superman movie with some different villains; hopefully not including Nuclear Man.

Wow, you mean there actually exists a photo of Nuclear Man where he isn't screaming or shooting lightning bolts!?

Filed under: Comics, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tooting My Own Horn…

*In lieu of my family’s traditional New Year’s dinner of pork and sauerkraut (Apparently it’s a Pennsylvania Dutch thingDon’t ask…) being pushed back to this evening, I’ve decided to forego a legit posting tonight in favor of a neat little “year in review” that WordPress made for me.  Enjoy, I know I sure did!*

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

Madison Square Garden can seat 20,000 people for a concert. This blog was viewed about 64,000 times in 2010. If it were a concert at Madison Square Garden, it would have performed about 3 times.

In 2010, there were 250 new posts, not bad for the first year!

The busiest day of the year was October 29th with 3,439 views. The most popular post that day was Minecraft: Survival Multiplayer (Guest Post).

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were reddit.com, facebook.com, kotaku.com, kungfucinema.com, and minecraftforum.net.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for donnie yen, cecilia cissy wang, broly, moon knight, and guyver.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Minecraft: Survival Multiplayer (Guest Post) October 2010
2 comments

2

A Tribute to the Greatness that is Donnie Yen: Part VI – Old Man Yen May 2010

3

Movie Review: Undisputed 3: Redemption June 2010
3 comments

4

Vejita Has a Brother!!? September 2010
2 comments

5

Moon Knight, Thank You For Being So Freakin’ Crazy. May 2010

Filed under: Comics, Games, Kung Fu, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Superman/Batman Apocalypse Review

Not long ago, I was planning on doing a review for the DC Animated Universe feature film, Batman: Under the Red Hood.

RED HOOD MAKES BATMAN MAKE MEAN FACE!

My plans fell through on pounding out that article for the oddest of reasons:

After sitting through the movie, I found I had close to nothing to say about it.

To this day I can barely remember that movie, other than the fact that the climactic battle between Batman and the Red Hood was brutally well choreographed to an extent few animated films can measure up to.

Other than that, the movie was totally flat.

Yeah, like that kinda' flat...

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse on the other hand, is a film that I find I can very easily form an opinion of.

In short, I didn’t like Apocalypse.

Meant to serve as a direct follow-up to the (in my eyes) superior Superman/Batman: Public Enemies of last year, Apocalypse is an action-packed, but ultimately light weight exercise in tedium.

I know what you’re thinking:

“But Azn Badger, couldn’t Public Enemies be described in exactly the same fashion?  How can you like one better than the other?”

*Gasp!* That's like saying: "I like peanuts, but not peanut butter."

While I’ll admit this is true, Public Enemies was essentially a film comprised entirely of Michael Bay-esque lights and sound married with ungodly amounts of fan-service, the key difference between Public Enemies and Apocalypse lies within their execution of these 2 factors.

Public Enemies went balls out with it’s over-the-top-ness, pitting it’s 2 heroes against a legion of big name characters from the DC Universe, all while progressively stepping up the urgency and scale of it’s various crises until things, quite literally; reach astronomical levels.

Yes, Batman does in fact drive a giant Superman/Batman robot. Retarded: Yes. Entertaining: Kinda'...

It was stupid, it was fun, and the script was put together in such a way as to “play along” with that mindset.

Throw in some great voicework from the original “Timm-verse” voice cast of Tim Daly, Kevin Conroy, and the always impeccable Clancy Brown, and you’ve got a recipe for a good time.

Clancy Brown = PIMP. Even though he DID kill Sean Connery...

Apocalypse on the other hand, sort of went about things half-cocked.

There’s a great deal of action, with the animation and art design being quite good for the most part, (much better than in Under the Red Hood) but the overall feel of the movie is just plain wrong.

Like Public Enemies, Apocalypse is once again based on Jeph Loeb’s work on the Superman/Batman comic series, with the source material being taken from the second story arc entitled “The Supergirl from Krypton.”

Perhaps it’s the Transformers and Power Ranger loving “boy” in me, but I’ve never found it within me to appreciate the beauty of Kara Zor-El AKA Supergirl’s soul.

Pictured: What happens when the Japanese get their hands on American comic book characters.

She was kind of cool during the 90’s when she was working for the red-haired Lex Luthor and busting heads in the Superman animated series, but other than that, I’ve never paid much attention to her.

Anyway, the story of Apocalypse kicks off very shortly after the conclusion of Public Enemies wherein Batman destroyed a massive Kryptonite meteor on a collision course with earth.

As the last remnant of said meteor make their way past Earth’s orbit, a hefty chunk manages to fall through the atmosphere and crash land in Gotham Harbor.

Goddamn women drivers!

After investigating a bit, Batman (Kevin Conroy) discovers a space pod among the debris, which of course housed our future Supergirl (Summer Glau) who goes through the requisite culture shock of dealing with Earth people for the first time, (in the nude no less) and discovering her vast array of powers granted to her by Earth’s yellow sun.

Yeah, not sure how you "accidentally" shoot lasers out of your eyes, but whatever...

Merry mishaps ensue, much property damage is caused, (it’s okay if it’s on accident!) and Superman (Tim Daly) eventually shows up to lift something heavy and take Kara off to show her his Fortress of Solitude.

The "Fortress of Solitude." Oh wait, they're cousins... THAT'S NASTY!!!

From that point on, the first 20 minutes of the movie see us following Kara as she explores life on Earth with her cousin Kal, (Superman, you big dummy) all while Batman constantly broods about the potentiality of her being a bad omen/villain/secret weapon/fish person.

Cut to the planet Apocalypse, where Granny Goodness (voiced with unbelievable zest by Ed Asner) oversees the training of a potential leader of Darkseid’s honor guard/stable of fucked up bitches, The Female Furies.

As you can see, they're a happy, well-adjusted bunch of females... That just happen to be FURIOUS.

What follows is a lucid and well-choregraphed 4-on-1 cat fight.

The drama is convincing, largely due to the effective pacing, which sees our 1 against the 4 holding their own in the few minute or so of combat, only to eventually be overwhelmed.

Like all of the fighting in Apocalypse, this scene served as a brief highlight among a sea of blemishes.

Cut back to Metropolis, where we are treated to the requisite “teenaged shopping spree” scene, albeit with oddly boring and low-key music.

Haha, it's funny 'cause he's a dude.

With that, night eventually falls and Wonder Woman (Susan Eisenberg) decides to show up to piss off Superman by trying to hog-tie Kara.

I like where this is going. Proceed...

Y’know, like yah’ do.

As it turns out, the Amazons of Themyscira’s (Wonder Woman’s ‘hood) resident prophet, Harbinger (Rachel Quaintance), has been having visions of Kara’s eventual death on a beach somewhere, resulting in Wonder Woman making the decision to take Kara back to the island in hopes of maintaining her safety.

Another good argument for Wonder Woman’s logic is the fact that Kara, for perhaps the 3rd time in the movie, recklessly unleashes her powers on Metropolis during her attempted kidnapping.

WOULD YOU STOP DOING THAT!!

Eventually, Superman grudgingly decides to give in to Wonder Woman’s pleas.

With that, we flash 2 months later and Kara’s been living on Themyscira with the Amazons.

Despite all that time, Superman is still feeling butt-hurt about the whole deal, while Batman and Wonder Woman just kind of look to each other from time to time and wonder just why Superman is such a douche…

Anyway, Kara imparts to us, through the language of teenage angst, that she is feeling cramped by everyone ordering her around the time, and she now wishes to live her own life, by her own terms.

Thankfully, after all of this boring “stranger-in-a-strange-land” meets Jem bullshit, the Darkseid angle of the story hinted not so subtly by, I don’t know, the title of the movie, finally comes to light proper.

A boom tube opens up in Themyscira, teleporting in, not one, but a literal army of Doomsday clones.

Um... You know just 1 was enough to kill Superman, right?

With an army of Amazons at their backs, Batman, (armed with a magical axe) Superman, and Wonder Woman take on the Doomsday army 300 style.

What follows is a pretty decent, if not chaotic battle sequence highlighted by a goofy and melodramatic homage to the muted war sequences made popular by Saving Private Ryan.

"Mike..."

I haven’t read the comic that this movie is based on, but my guess is that the Doomsday’s present in this story were meant to be vastly inferior to the original, as we all know that just one Doomsday probably should’ve been enough to take on all of Themyscira.

Either way, things wrap up as Superman opens up with a Kamehame-I mean, heat-vision blast that levels the entire army at once.

Now I ask you, why the fuck didn't he do that from the start!?

With that, our heroes run off to the beach of Harbinger’s visions, only to discover that Kara is gone, and Harbinger lay dead in her place.

"*Whew!* It's okay folks, it's only that one chick that nobody liked."

Now that we’re about halfway through the movie, the stakes have been clearly laid out for us, leaving the plot with nowhere to go but Apocalypse, right?

Well, not quite.

First, our heroes have to go visit former Female Fury leader, Big Barda; in order to borrow her equipment to boom tube their asses over there.

I always found Big Barda's costume to be, uh, a little bit gaudy for my tastes. Eithert that or, y'know, STUPID.

Barda resists at first, but then opts instead to join our heroes in their crusade, seemingly just for the sake of getting a chance to throw mud in Darkseid’s eyes.

From there, the rest of the movie is action/fighting.

I won’t spoil anything for you, but I will say this:

The second half of Apocalypse, while well animated and filled with fight sequences, is hardly notable among DC Animated Universe productions.

Among the trio of climaxes, (one for each major player) Wonder Woman and Big Barda get the best of the bunch in the form of a brawl with the Female Furies.

Seriously, the choreography in this scene is excellent, nearly as good as the Wonder Woman feature from a few years ago.

For those who are keeping score at home, that’s really fuckin’ good.

Batman and Superman though, sadly have little to offer in terms of awesomeness.

Although I suppose if giant dogs are your thing, then Batman's stuff might be kinda' cool for you...

Once again, I’m not going to spoil anything for you, but the movie has a long and drawn out ending sequence that, while entertaining on purely visceral level, was overblown and utterly pointless.

Like Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King “I have 5 endings!” pointless.

Oh well, at least it gives us a chance to see Superman access his inner Fist of the North Star and bust out blatantly anime-inspired moves like this:

Yeah, that just happened…

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse rests very low on the totem pole for me as far as DC Animated Universe films go.

Wonder Woman, of all things, is at or near the top, with Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths ranking just below it, followed by Green Lantern: First Flight, with Public Enemies rounding out the lower-tier of the “good” movies.

In other words:

Apocalypse ain’t so hot.

The story was petty and unfocused, with the characters not so much relating to each other as covering each other’s asses in battle.

ASS.

Call me crazy, but I prefer my superhero team-ups to y’know, have the characters talk to each other every now and again.

The action, while impressive to behold, felt surprisingly limited in scale given the stakes at hand.

Remember in the Superman cartoon when Darkseid invaded Metropolis with an army and wrecked Superman’s shit with said army.

Remember when he killed Dan Turpin? Yeah, that sucked balls...

Well, in Apocalypse, on Darkseid’s home turf, which by the way was seemingly populated by about 10 people, Darkseid manages to send, I don’t know; 5 guys and some dogs after our invading heroes.

That’s just silly.

A gripe about Darkseid:

Andrea Romano’s work as a voice casting director for Warner Bros. animation has always been regarded as some of the most consistent and praise worthy stuff in the industry, but what in the holy-fuck made her think ANYONE but MICHAEL FUCKING IRONSIDE could play Darkseid!?

Here, just take a look at this:

It pains me to know that this clip, from the script, to the voice-acting, to the music, to even the quality of the animation, however economical, is better than any of the DC Animated Features.

Andre Braugher has a wonderful voice.

Hell, if it’s any consolation I liked him in Glory

But the simple fact of the matter is, he was horribly miscast.

For one thing, he speaks far too fast, but moreover; his voice simply lacks the timbre and menace of Ironside’s.

I suppose it doesn’t hurt either that the script for this movie couldn’t hold a candle to anything from the DC animated series’…

Though it may seem minor to some, for me, I found it utterly impossible to take Darkseid seriously in this movie.

You know it's bad when you can't take THIS GUY seriously...

Another gripe.

Apocalypse contains a great deal of useless “asides.”

That is to say, the movie mimics the time tested anime trope of cutting away to pointless shots of everyday life/nature as a means of transition.

In anime, this works.

It’s an undeniably Japanese approach to story pacing, and when used in a long-form series consistently, it just plain works.

Here it’s a just goddamn waste of time, something that a slim; hour and a half long production should be conscious of.

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse is not a Japanese production, nor is it a long-ass series where wasted shots can be used to pad out episodes.

I don’t know what the fuck is going on with American animation these days, but the power and influence that anime has had over it’s character designs, animation techniques, and now even storytelling techniques, is just plain fucking grotesque.

I understand that anime and manga are currently the bees knees among the younger crowd, but c’mon folks, stick to what you’re best at.

The Batman and Superman cartoons were animation classics.

Now we’ve got shit like Teen Titans, shit that truly feels like pale imitations of something that is, culturally; quite foreign.

YOU SEE!!? THIS is why we have weeaboos and Narutards!

Anyway, I’ve said far more than I ever intended to about this movie, so I think I’ll cut things here.

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse – A movie that doesn’t try hard enough at being dumb and loud, but ultimately leaves it’s viewers with no entertainment value other than those 2 elements.

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The Best MAN!!! #7

Afternoon everybody, and welcome back to the 7th installment of The Best MAN!

Today we’re of course going to be exploring the tragically flat, and only 16-bit adventure in the linear Mega Man series, Mega Man 7.

Ah, I see we've reached the mid-90's era of Capcom's American cover art...

Before we delve into the utterly vanilla experience that is Mega Man 7, I feel it important to address one simple issue surrounding the stigma that seems to have arose in regards to this game.

Case in point:

Now, I can’t claim that this video’s (clever) views on the Mega Man series are at all that of the general public, however I feel that it should be said that Mega Man 7 is far from the worst of the Mega Man series.

*Ahem!* By now it should be obvious that that honor belongs to Mega Man 5

Pictured: Mega Man 5.

Anyway, despite Mega Man 7’s apparent reputation for being a shit-fest of epic proportions, the game actually had a decent story.

Not that that counts for anything in a franchise that puts zero emphasis on story.

In short, after Dr. Wily is thrown in jail at the conclusion of Mega Man 6, exactly 6 months later, 4 robots he had hidden in an underground laboratory wake up and blow the shit out of the city to free him.

Essentially, the plot is a carbon copy of the first half of Dragonball Z movie 7.

This was the coolest shit ever when I was in middle school... I'm not even kidding.

Coincidence?  I think not!

Nah, I’m just Joshing yah’, it probably was a coincidence.

Anyway, like any Mega Man game, the changes to the gameplay made in 7 were small, but fairly impactful.

Just not as much as in most other games in the series…

Several new characters were introduced, including Auto, Mega Man’s burly mechanic buddy:

"Pull my finger."

And Bass and Treble, the series’ obligatory evil clone characters:

PIMP.

While Auto served as little more than window dressing, Bass and Treble engaged the player at several points in the game, initially pretending to be all baby-faced n’shit, only to turn heel and bash Mega Man over the head with a steel chair.

"MY GAWD, WITH THE STEEL CHAIR!!!!"

Gameplay additions to Mega Man 7 included a new equipment store run by Eddie, wherein the player could purchase new items and abilities, and a brand new Rush adapter called “Super Mega Man” that combined the flight and power functions of the adapters from Mega Man 6.

Mega Man, GATTAI!!!!

It was also the first game in the linear series to allow the player to “charge” the weapons of all of the robot masters.

In addition to this, the game also adopted the “Intro Stage before Stage Select” mechanic that had been pioneered in the Mega Man X series, as well as set it’s own precedent by introducing the “Intermission” stage, that is; an unskippable level forced on the player after defeating 4 of the 8 robot masters.

PHARAOH MAN CAMEO!!!

As you can already tell, outside of 16-bit graphics and sound, Mega Man 7 didn’t really bring much to the table in terms of innovation.

In fact, despite the larger sprites and more detailed animations, the games’ musical compositions were actually somewhat weak for the series.

Even so, there were exceptions:

Just goes to show you that technical advancements don’t always mean much in regards to gameplay.

Mega Man 7 was not a horrible game, nor was it the worst Mega Man game, however; due to the hype and expectations surrounding it, the first 16-bit Mega Man game; it ended up being a pretty big letdown.

Even so, the games’ biggest shame is the fact that it is utterly average, serving as nothing more than a mere hiccup in the vast legacy of the Mega Man franchise.

Enough dour bullshit, let’s get down to who’s The Best MAN!

Well kiddo’, that’d have to be…

Shade Man

SHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADE MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNN!!!???

This one hurt me.

Physically.

Seriously, Mega Man 7 has a decent roster of robot masters, but I really only like 2 of them.

Turbo Man and Freeze Man, those are the only 2 MEN in the game that come close to being The Best MAN.

ALL THAT IS MAAAAAAAAAAAANNNN!!!!

So why the fuck aren’t either of them The Best MAN in Mega Man 7!?

Well, shut up and I’ll tell you.

Junk Man is the first guy I’d always kill, and c’mon; he’s fuckin’ Junk Man.

More like "Pile of Fail Man."

Cloud Man is a fattie.

Pictured: Cloud Man.

I actually had to look up Burst Man just to figure out what the fuck his gimmick was.

Note: I still don’t know what it is…

Seriously man, what the fuck is his deal?

Slash Man is cool, but uninspired, *cough!* Wolverine *cough!*

I did like the dinosaurs in his stage though...

Spring Man is lame and had one of the most frustrating stages in Mega Man history, right next Astro Man in Mega Man 8.

Pictured: Spring Man.

That leaves us with Turbo Man and Freeze Man, the only 2 MEN that I actually like in Mega Man 7.

Both are my favorite designs in the game, they have pretty cool weapons, pretty fun stages, and are tough cookies when you finally get down to stompin’ a mudhole on their asses.

Despite Shade Man’s relatively crappy design, he trumps both of my boys in every other category, hands down.

He’s got a pimp-ass weapon, he’s tough to fight, and if you hold “B” before selecting his stage, you can play a through his stage with the Ghosts ‘N Gobins intro stage music playing as the stage background music!

Not only that, but his is the only robot master stage that includes a brief story sequence wherein Mega Man runs across an injured Bass and Treble just after they fought, and lost to Shade Man.

Even though it is later revealed that Bass and Treble were in fact working for Dr. Wily, it’s worth noting that Shade Man was considered powerful enough to have believably defeated them.

That’s street cred son, you can’t buy that.

While I don’t really care much for the whole vampire schtick of Shade Man, from a gameplay standpoint, he was a very creative and unique addition to the series.

He had more attacks than most bosses, including a life draining bite and Medusa-like stone gaze.

Clearasil: It's your friend.

More importantly, his weapon, the Noise Crush, was truly awesome, as it would bounce off of walls, growing more powerful as it ricocheted.

Like I said, the thought of declaring Shade Man the best, well, anything, makes me violently ill, however I feel I’d be lying to myself if I elected one of my favorites in his stead.

Just goes to show you, that which you like isn’t necessarily what’s best.

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The Best MAN!!! #5

After the hootenanny of character design awesomeness that was Mega Man 4, most of us were left thinking, “what the fuck kind of crazy awesomeness can the guys over at Capcom possibly follow this up with?”

The answer, unfortunately, was about 2 thirds crazy, and 1 third awesome.

Ladies and gentleman, it’s time to tangle with the odd bird that is Mega Man 5.

Really diggin' the Mega Man stiff arm.

Mega Man 5 is a really fuckin’ weird game.

The story was some hackneyed bullshit wherein Proto Man was set-up as the main villain, only to have it revealed later that he is in fact innocent, and, guess what, Dr. Wily was the actual mastermind.

THAT EVIL MOTHER FUCKER!!!

In terms of graphics and sound, it was a significant step up from it’s predecessors, and even the gameplay was pretty solid as well.

Yep, they actually gave those little Met fuckers jet packs and space helmets...

It was the design of the game that hurt it.

For the first time in Mega Man history, the player was faced with issue that there were one too many features.

While Mega Man 5 was far from innovative, in fact it was one of the more “phoned-in” games in the series, what little it added was the straw that broke the camels back, the last block pulled from the Jenga tower.

That's right, Jenga mother fuckers!

Some of the (few) features that Mega Man 5 brought to the table were more intricate level designs, a new weapon called the Super Arrow, and Beat, the fighting bird that could be earned after collecting letters in all 8 of the robot master stages to form the phrase “M-E-G-A-M-A-N-V.”

Fuckin' worthless-ass turd burglar...

By the way, despite the level of dedication required to activate Beat, he’s pretty much useless.

He’s like the equivalent of using Zero for 1 third of a stage in Mega Man X3.

The best thing Zero did in X3 was get his ass kicked for me so I could jack his beam saber.

Oh you know you gonna' gimme' 'dat shit son...

For real man, Zero is like the Trunks of the Mega Man X series.

Everybody and their mother thinks he’s the bees knees, suckin’ his cock left and right, but if ever you ask them “why?” they can’t come with anything close to an answer.

Know why he smilin'? 'Cause you suckin' his dick, that's why.

It’s gotta’ be the hair or some shit, I swear…

Anyway, bullshit tangents aside, like I said, while it wasn’t a horrible game by any means, Mega Man 5  was kind of a lazy effort by Capcom, and was also the first in the series to begin to feel over-saturated.

Oh yeah, and did I mention that the character designs were some of the weirdest in series history up until the fuck-sandwich that is Sheep Man?

Yet another reason as to why I haven't played Mega Man 9 or 10...

Good thing “weird” doesn’t necessarily mean “bad,” (it does when you’re talking about sack-donkeys like Sheep Man) ’cause it’s about time we got down to deciding who’s The Best MAN!

Well, among the side-show freaks and fuck-tards that are the cast of Mega Man 5, The Best MAN would have to be…

Gyro Man

GYRRRROOOOOOOOOOOO MAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNN!!!!!

Like Mega Man 3, this one was a toughy.

Unlike that game however, I had no real attachment to any of the robot masters in Mega Man 5.

I mean shit, look at ’em:

TRAIN DUDE!!? MISSILE FACE!? PEARL MAN!!? WTF!!!!!????

Mega Man 5’s cast of robot masters was unique, I’ll give it that.

Even as a kid, I seriously didn’t think they’d actually make a “Star Man,” but hey, I’m not a videogame designer, what do I know…

The real difficulty in choosing who was The Best MAN in Mega Man 5 sprung from 1 simple personal debate:

Crystal Man or Gyro Man?

Really, that’s all it came down to, but I have to admit it gave me some issues.

Pretty much every other robot master in the game is ass-faced failure, to the point in which I was left with only 2 guys I really had any sort of appreciation for.

You wanna’ know how I made my decision?

Well, I started, of course, by looking at their designs.

I liked both, but to be honest I felt I liked Crystal Man just a little bit more.

Sexy...

Something about his color scheme and strong body shape just “did it” for me.

Next, I moved on to their stage music.

Gyro Man:

Crystal Man:

No contest here.

Point, Gyro Man.

Normally I’d insert a comment here about who was the tougher challenge, but seeing as both guys were pussies, I’m left with nothing more to say other than, well, they were pussies.

"Who, me?"

The final deciding factor ended up being my (fragmented) memories of that goddamn Mega Man cartoon.

While Gyro Man’s appearance in the show WAS RETARDED AS FUCK, at least it wasn’t as bad as Crystal Man’s.

If I remember correctly, Crystal Man fought Mega Man on the moon, got his chest bulb shot out, and generally just got shat on for the entire half hour.

What the fuck is up with American redesigns of Japanese shiieeet!!!??

Gyro Man at least got to wear a wig and pretend to be in a shitty 90’s rock band with Gemini Man and Spark Man

Lookit' them pointy shoulders... That's how you know it's the early 90's.

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