Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

The Amazing Spider-Man Just Went From “Meh” To “Bleh.”

Pictured: The kind of shit I'd probably do if I had a Spider-Man costume.

*SPOILER ALERT!* If you prefer not to have the appearance of The Lizard from The Amazing-Spider-Man spoiled for you, stop reading NOW! *SPOILER ALERT!*

As goofy as the photos above may be, sadly, they aren’t responsible for my rapidly darkening mood in regards to the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man movie.

It’s funny actually, despite being a reboot of a major Marvel franchise, amid all the buzz surrounding The Avengers, Man of Steel, and The Dark Knight Rises, the production of The Amazing Spider-Man has been somewhat of an enigma as of late.

Unlike fuckin’ Turn Off the Dark

*Shiver* Spider-Man villains putting on a fashion show… The stuff of nightmares I tells yah’.

Truth be told, aside from the infamous “Mirrors Edge trailer,” and a quick article I did a few months back regarding the new costume design, The Amazing Spider-Man has been almost entirely off my radar.

Sure, I grit my teeth a little over the prospect of rebooting a barely 10 year old film series, however outside of that, I really could care less.

I lied. Officially, I care less about Ghost Rider. Don't tell anyone I said that though.

That being said, the one thing that could’ve got me excited about this movie, has just been ruined by a leaked image of a goddamn Pez dispenser.

Allow me to explain.

In my youth, animals were one of my greatest passions, in particular lizards and other reptiles.

At one point the Komodo Dragon was my favorite animal, prompting me to do a number of school projects based around them.

I used to flip through my (vast) collection of Zoobooks just about every fucking day, in particular the reptile and special edition dinosaur issues.

Godzilla was, and still is, one of my biggest heroes.

And when it came to comic book characters, in particular Spider-Man villains, you can sure as hell bet The Lizard was my favorite.

BAAAAADDDD-ASSSSSSSSSSS.

In truth, he was kind of a lame character, particularly in regards to his power set, but even so, I’ve always liked him regardless.

That being said, seeing Dylan Baker cast as Dr. Curt Connors (The Lizard, dumbass) in Spider-Man 2 and 3 was cute in the sense that it paid homage to the greater Marvel universe, (something that has since become widespread) however I’m not gonna’ lie, it sucked some serious balls being teased with the prospect of a Lizard story arc over 2 movies only to end up with the lame-ass, cluttered finale of Spider-Man 3.

Imagine my surprise when it was announced that The Lizard was going to be a/the(?) villain in The Amazing Spider-Man.

Being a Lizard fan, my initial reaction was that of:

“Fuck yeah!”

Despite boasting some decent acting credentials, I still think it’s funny that Welshman Rhys Ifans AKA the Welsh guy from Little Nicky and the Welsh kicker from The Replacements, is going to be playing Curt Connors.

By the way, did I mention he was Welsh?

Seriously though, I really don’t have much of a frame of reference as to whether he’d make a good Lizard, but oddly enough, it’s not him that has me less than thrilled about The Amazing Spider-Man.

Which brings us back to the aforementioned Pez dispenser:

Pictured: An unfortunate shaved monkey dipped in green paint.

While it may not be an official rendering of the character’s design for the upcoming film, or even a reflection of what the character’s final appearance, given the possibility that his transformation in the film may in fact be done progressively instead of all at once; the fact of the matter is:

This looks like fuckin’ garbage.

Seriously man, aside from the green skin, the features of the character don’t even look reptilian to me.

Last time I checked, reptiles, lizards in particular, are noted for their rigid facial structure and beady eyes.

This fuckin’ lizard has his eyes on the front of his face, and doesn’t even have so much as a goddamn snout.

I know they were probably trying to humanize him for dramatic purposes, or more likely, made him more human shaped to make animating his lip movements somewhat easier, but even so; this ain’t the fuckin’ Lizard.

Jesus fuck man, even if you were to put all of my “science-y” gripes aside, at the end of the day this design looks just plain fuckin’ boring.

Probably the worst part though, is the fact that this thing bears an uncanny resemblance to the Goombas from the Super Mario movie:

Cosmic...

And we all know how well that little venture worked out, right?

To whoever designed this Austrian dispenser of confectionery FAIL, congratulations, you have succeeded in making a superhuman lizard-man look boring.

My guess is they recruited the guy that did the Time Ninja cover to do the concept art for The Lizard:

Just in case you forgot...

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Ghost Rider 2 Trailer Looks… Meh.

I’ve never really considered myself a fan of Ghost Rider.

His design has an undeniable “cool factor” to it, what with the flaming skull and tricked out hellcycle n’shit; but for the most part the actual character of Ghost Rider has never really done it for me.

I grew up occasionally reading Ghost Rider comics, however given my status as a 90’s kid, the stories I ended up getting were of the Daniel Ketch version of the character, not the Johnny Blaze original.

For what it’s worth, I’ve always preferred the Ketch hellcycle to the more Harley Davidson-esque original, however at the same time; most of the Ghost Rider comics I read in my youth failed to leave an impression on me.

Well, except for his pimp-ass fiery Akira-bike.

Maybe it’s just because I read all the wrong books, but in my eyes; Ghost Rider is one of those great ideas, and great designs that rarely gets used properly.

In that sense, it should come as no surprise that the Nic Cage Ghost Rider movie from a few years back stunk something horrible.

The movie was dull and boring, and while the effects work had a surprising amount of love put into it, the physical performances of the title character and his demonic opposition were stiff to the point of being embarrassing.

Maybe it’s just me, but in my mind I don’t picture Ghost Rider moving like Frankenstein after a few dozen choco-laxatives.

"Hold up guys. I have to poop... NOW."

To be fair, I’m guessing the technology used to create the “flaming head” effect was kind of iffy at the time, forcing the actors to restrict their actions to broader and more deliberate movements; but even so, it was more than a little distracting, at least to me.

Batman not being able to turn his head for 18 years is forgivable.

Ghost Rider walking with a rod up his ass and having CGI’ed abs is a whole ‘nother story.

Even Cameron Poe wasn't this cut...

Despite horrid reviews, color me surprised when it was announced awhile back that Marvel would be producing a Ghost Rider sequel titled Ghost Rider: The Spirit of Vengeance.

Check out the trailer here:

I really don’t care enough to look up a synopsis for the film, if it exists; but based entirely on the trailer above, the sequel honestly looks like it could surpass the original.

Not that that should be looked upon as any sort of achievement.

Truth be told, I kind of like the new design aesthetic for the Ghost Rider character.

The melting leather jacket, and charred skull add some much needed texture to what was originally kind of a sterile design.

Still not great... But hey, at least this time he can bend his fucking knees.

On top of that, the stunt work looks a little bit more imaginative, largely because; unlike the first film, there actually appear to be stunts at some point in the movie!

I can’t say I’m enthused at the idea of another Ghost Rider movie, however the best compliment I feel I can muster for this trailer is that fact that it doesn’t seem terrible to me.

I’d prefer to see Marvel dump their money into something else, like, I don’t know, A FUCKING MOON KNIGHT MOVIE; but oh well, that’s why they’re the high powered execs/producers and I’m just an unemployed blogger.

Good DVD sales revenue I.E. The Punisher and Ghost Rider, SHOULD NOT drive a studio’s decision making.

The desire to create good product SHOULD.

*AHEM!* Getting back to the subject at hand, in all honesty, the Ghost Rider 2 looks kind of “meh” at this point.

It obviously doesn’t have the funding that Marvel’s A-list character films have been getting as of late, and it has the stigma of being a sequel to a shitty going against it.

To say such a film looks “meh” as opposed to “crappy,” is actually kind of nice when you think about it.

Anyway, fingers crossed for Nic Cage having at least one epic freak-out in this movie, no CG abs, and please God; tell me the fire pissing sequence doesn’t make the final cut of the film.

It was funny when the dog pissed fire to resurrect Freddy in A Nightmare on Elm Street IV.

It was cool when Gabriel Byrne pissed oil in End of Days.

Ghost Rider peeing flames… Well, not only is it out of character, it’s just plain stupid.

 

Pictured: The most expensive flaming piss sequence in all of film history.

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Shadowland Review

Maximum Carnage.

That oft derided blood soaked comic book story arc of the early 90’s was what ultimately came to mind as I was reading through Marvel’s Shadowland.

Fortunately, I happen to be of the rare breed that, despite it’s flawed storytelling and absurd length; actually kind of liked Maximum Carnage.

Make no mistake though, Shadowland is by no means a well-liked crossover by most comic fan standards.

At least it's not universally hated like Onslaught... Onslaught sucked balls.

Written by Daredevil author Andy Diggle, and pencilled by former X-23 artist Billy Tan; Shadowland takes us into the dark territory it’s title suggest in the form of casting prolific crime-fighter and man without fear, Daredevil; as it’s central villain.

While this controversial storytelling decision has perturbed many a Daredevil fan since it’s publication, thankfully there is indeed a logical, though somewhat hokey explanation as to why Matt Murdock would suddenly turn heel overnight.

 

I don't know about you, but bad chili always puts me in a foul mood...

Leading up to the events of Shadowland, one of the Daredevil’s arch-nemeses, Bullseye; blew up a city block in Hell’s Kitchen, effectively creating a gigantic smoldering symbol of the hero’s personal failings smack dab in the middle of his backyard.

Having recently been offered the position as head of The Hand, a Japanese cult of ninjas and longtime opponent of Daredevil and Elektra; Daredevil ends up accepting the offer, in hopes of wielding the forces of The Hand to better protect the citizens of New York.

This leads to the purchase of the plot of land that was destroyed by Bullseye, and the erection of a huge Japanese fortress in it’s place; a territory that Daredevil dubs “Shadowland.”

Unfortunately, poor Matt Murdock didn’t count on being possessed by The Beast, a demon under the control of a splinter group within The Hand known as Snakeroot.

Said possession causes Daredevil to lose control of himself and his army, resulting in The Beast using him as a vessel to infect the citizens of New York with feelings of hatred and violence.

While many of the heroes of the Marvel universe tolerate Murdock’s actions, grudgingly; it isn’t until he does the unthinkable, and kills Bullseye; that his close friends begin to suspect that the devil of Hell’s Kitchen might be losing his marbles.

Thus sets the stage for a series of pitched battles between Daredevil and those that care most about him.

I assure it doesn't turn out like this, however it would be kinda' cool if it did...

A “mini-event” staged in the wake of Marvel’s most recent event comic proper, Siege; Shadowland represents the rather rare crossover event wherein the core players consist almost exclusively of  “street level” superheroes.

That is to say, despite a suitably epic storyline involving demonic possession and a mass riot across the Hell’s Kitchen section of Manhattan, the majority of the superheroes involved consist of low-powered, or in many cases; unpowered, individuals such as Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Spider-Man, and The Punisher.

Unlike many event comics, that raise the stakes to cosmic levels and beyond, a strong part of the appeal of Shadowland; at least for me anyway, is the fact that the story remains grounded in Daredevil’s niche in the Marvel universe, that of New York city.

While many of the heroes, such as Cage and Iron Fist; are personal friends of Daredevil, ultimately the one thing tying everyone together in the story is that they all share New York as their field of operations.

Early on in Shadowland we’re shown an overhead splash of the city, with several embedded panels serving to show us many of the New York-based Marvel superheroes as they all glare at Daredevil’s newly erected eyesore of a fortress and ponder on what to do of it.

Pictured: The splash in question.

It’s moments like this that serve to unify the cast of Shadowland in a much more satisfying manner than many other event comics.

With the exception of Ghost Rider and Moon Knight, (and a truly random Wolverine) both of whom have close to nothing to do within the context of the 5 core Shadowland issues, the vast majority of the cast feel appropriately cast.

That being said, what of the actual story?

Well, to be perfectly honest, Shadowland is one of those crossovers that seems to demand an unreasonable level of commitment from it’s readers, such that it feels like many important story beats are found only in tie-in issues.

That being said, questions arise every now and again when one is reading Shadowland, usually pertaining to where certain characters went, or how they knew some of the things they did.

 

...Or in the case of Elektra: "How are you still alive?"

In that sense, the storytelling and plot progression of Shadowland can feel fractured and abbreviated, however in my opinion this does not hurt it’s overall enjoyability.

Put it this way:

Shadowland is not a suspenseful story.

From it’s first pages, the “mystery” of Daredevil’s bloodthirsty nature are laid out for us crystal clear.

While the (surprisingly good) ending serves to shake things up a bit, there’s close to zero character development in Shadowland.

From the moment Bullseye gets shanked, we know exactly who our villains are, making for a story that does most what little “telling” it needs to as fists are flying and blood is spilt.

The real meat of Shadowland is in establishing Daredevil as a character poised to take a fall, and then watching as his closest friends band together to set him straight, not through superpowered might, or even magical exorcism; but through heart… and a shit ton of kung fu.

Martial arts have a way of making any story just that much better.

While it sounds corny, Shadowland is essentially the comic book equivalent of an intervention.

Hal Jordan fell prey to Parallax, Jean Grey turned into Dark Phoenix, every now and again one our most beloved superheroes finds themselves under the control of some malevolent force, ultimately resulting in their friends banding together (unsuccessfully) to stop them, only for them to choose redemption through the only means most superheroes seem to know:

Altruisticly Superpowered Suicide, better known as A.S.S.

Sorry, couldn’t resist…

Despite the frequently used storytelling formula listed above, one should note that I never said that’s how Shadowland ends.

I’m not a fan of spoilers, so I’ll let you read the story yourself to find out just what happens.

*Spoiler Alert!* The Death Star blows up at the end!

Anyway, it’s a safe bet to say that Shadowland represents a story that has been recycled in the world of comics more than a few times already, however the new coat of paint it throws into the mix, in the form of it’s cast and setting, make for a fun experience for those who, like myself; are somewhat invested in things from the get go.

In other words, Shadowland is hardly a jumping on point for those who don’t read any of the characters involved in the core storyline, but for those that frequently read tales from the streets of Marvel New York; it’s hard not to have fun with Shadowland.

...I mentioned there was fighting, right?

Coming into Shadowland, I honestly didn’t know what to expect from artist Billy Tan.

Normally, I am keen on looking up the work of artists for comics I’m about purchase, largely because I put a great deal of stock in an artist’s abilities when it comes to gauging my overall enjoyment of a book.

Most reviews I read of Shadowland prior to purchasing it were mostly negative, however nearly all of them made mention of the art being “typically outstanding” in reference to Tan’s body of work.

Don’t ask me why, but for some reason I came into Shadowland wanting to be surprised by something, given that most of the story can be spoiled by reading even the most vague of reviews.

Anyway, I was indeed surprised by Billy Tan’s art in Shadowland, but more importantly; I was impressed.

Impressive... Most impressive...

Like many of my favorite comic artists, Tan excels at drawing his characters with somewhat more realistically proportioned bodies.

Many of his figures appear lithe and flexible, which is a very important factor to consider when dealing with a cast of characters consisting largely of martial artists and acrobats.

Speaking of which, while his face work can seem a little off at times, Tan displays a penchant for illustrating figures in motion.

There are moments in Shadowland, particularly in the battle with Bullseye; where the action of the panels felt more like viewing an animation than reading a comic.

For your viewing pleasure, a full page of awesome.

Needless to say, Billy Tan’s artwork and easily deciphered layouts in Shadowland meet my approval, and quite handily at that.

I won’t be reading X-23 anytime soon, out of my general disdain for the character; but nevertheless, I look forward to more Tan projects in the near future.

Anyway, that’s about all I’ve got to say about Shadowland.

As mentioned earlier, it seems like Marvel expects us to read a lot of the tie-ins in order to get the whole story, but I myself can’t justify such an investment.

I will however be picking up the Moon Knight tie-in, as it genuinely looked pretty good to me, and besides; Moon Knight’s my boy.

Other than that though, I’m mostly happy with what I got from Shadowland on it’s own.

Hope this was helpful to some of you, thanks for reading!

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Top 3 Academy Awardees… That Make The Academy Facepalm

Tonight we celebrated the 83rd edition of the Academy Awards.

Predictably, the English thespian uber-beast that is Colin FIRRRTHHHH managed to walk away with a Best Actor award, while Natalie Portman bagged the Best Actress.

While I haven’t seen The King’s Speech or Black Swan, and thusly can’t speak to the performances of these actors; in keeping with the spirit of the Academy Award festivities this evening, I’ve decided to put together a small list of the top 3 biggest FUCK-UPS the Academy saw fit to hand Best Actor awards to.

The following actors all have one thing in common:

While all may have had some bankability/acting merit at some point in their career, somewhere down the road they saw fit to sell-out and participate in some legendarily horrid films, some of which may or may not contain bear suits and bees.

Anyway, let’s get on with the list:

#3. Anna Pacquin

Yikes! 'Guess I can throw away that theory of her "growing into" that gap...

Anna Pacquin managed to charm her way to a Supporting Actress golden statue for her role in 1993’s, The Piano.

She was 11 years old at the time, making it fairly evident that the Academy staff is likely packed to the brim with pedo-faces.

For those that need a visual aid...

Now, given that Ms. Pacquin was very young when she received her Oscar, you’d expect her experience in the craft would improve as she grew older, right?

WRONG.

Sometime after The Piano, Anna Pacquin would go on to have supporting roles in such classics as, She’s All That, the X-Men series, and even the oh so cleverly titled horror anthology film, Trick ‘r Treat.

Also featuring that fat kid from Bad Santa!

While some might argue that Ms. Pacquin has seemingly found new life in her career with her leading role in the cable series True Blood, I would argue that she’s still very much in crap-town in terms of her bankability.

Case in point, she’s been cast in the upcoming (and largely unwanted) Scream 4, which retains almost none of the cast from the previous films.

Typically that’s not a good sign when dealing with (unwanted) sequels, just look what happened with Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd

#2: Sandra Bullock

 

Am I supposed to be turned on? 'Cause I'm really not... Kinda' hungry, but definitely not turned on...

“It was called The Net, with that girl from the bus…” – Frank Costanza, Seinfeld

Sandra Bullock snagged a Best Actress award in 2009 for her “transformative” role in The Blind Side.

While I would argue that the movie itself was actually kind of flat, with Ms. Bullock’s performance doing little to add to it’s mediocrity; the academy saw fit to give her the nod, thusly solidifying her place on this list.

Sandra Bullock had a rather odd journey to the Academy Awards.

Early on she was TV movie tripe like, Bionic Showdown: The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman.

Thought I was kiddin', didin'cha'?

Then she started to move up in the world, landing supporting roles in modern classics like Demolition Man, and Speed.

That’s right, MODERN. CLASSICS.

Then she got greedy and started conning her way into starring roles in horse shit like The Net, and Speed 2: Cruise Control.

 

Pictured: A shitty, and severly dated movie.

Then came the beginning of the new millenium.

Then, came the era of congeniality.

Tens of thousands were killed in the angry riots spawned by the release of the first Miss Congeniality.

Entire nations were felled in the anarchic firestorm brought on by the announcement of the second in the series, Miss Congeniality: Armed and Fabulous.

Given her greedy nature, combined with the relative stagnation of her career since achieving Oscar gold, I would not be surprised if Ms. Bullock had her goons in Hollywood pounding out a script for Miss Congeniality 3: Botoxed and Beautiful, as we speak…

#1: Nicolas Cage

If you're trying to scare me Mr. Cage, you have succeeded...

No list of Hollywood burn-outs could be complete without the inclusion of Nic Cage.

The Cage began his stint in Hollywood from humble beginnings.

Well, if you call being the nephew of one of the most influential and respected directors of all time, “humble.”

Early on, Cage made an impression in Hollywood with his critically acclaimed role as a douche bag in a handful of scenes from Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

 

The Birth of a Legend...

Said performance would prove to be an acting formula Mr. Cage would draw from in crafting many of his finer roles.

For several years, Nic Cage would pop up in films, largely in background roles; often times stealing the show with his unearthly powers of scenery-chewing and not-giving-a-fuck.

Then came Moonstruck, a film that received enormous critical acclaim; and very likely would’ve netted Mr. Cage an Oscar had Cher not overwhelmed his performance with her massive aura of FAIL and gender neutrality.

 

WHAT.... IS, IT!!!!!????

Years passed, and Cage, now starting to make waves as the possible “next big thing” in the industry, started churning out half-assed shit like Firebirds, seemingly for the fun of it.

Few realized it at the time, but the man was challenging us to a twisted and bizarre game of his own designs, daring us to take him seriously as an actor one minute, only for him to turn heel and pump out half-assed performances in blockbuster films.

It was a game only he himself could understand, let alone enjoy; and yet for some reason we foolishly kept coming back for more.

As with his acting method founded so long ago on the bleachers of Ridgemont High, Nic Cage; sly son of a bitch that he is, once again found a new devious element to add to his modus operandi…

1995 saw the release of Leaving Las Vegas, the film that would finally give Nic Cage his Best Actor award.

 

Pictured: Nic Cage's acting coaches.

Despite receiving universal acclaim critics worldwide, Nic Cage would later go on record stating that he had no memory of ever having made a film called “Leaving Las Vegas,” claiming that he spent all of ’95 fighting savage women on one of his privately owned islands while wearing a bear-suit.

Regardless of the truth of this matter, Nic Cage would display great proficiency in bear-suit combat tactics in some of his later films, suggesting he may indeed have had prior experience in said activities…

Following his Oscar success, the Nic Cage floodgates of crappiness and truly not-giving-a-fuck would burst wide open.

Amplifying Nic Cage’s powers of “phoning-it-in” and “not-giving-a-damn” 10 fold, Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay would go on to sink their claws into the enigma that is The Cage; casting him in overblown crap-fest after overblown retarded crap-fest for years to come.

 

Urge to kill, RISING...

Con Air, the Gone in 60 Seconds remake, the National Treasure series, horrible movies thrown in our faces cock-first, over and over and over again every summer…

Then, things got worse.

While few could argue that Next, Bangkok Dangerous, and The Sorceror’s Apprentice were *ahem!* “taxing,” even for the sternest of Nic Cage fans; everything seemed to come to a head with 2006’s remake of The Wicker Man.

Awe-inspiringly bad, to the point where few could argue that Nic Cage had finally topped himself in terms of simultaneously not-giving-a-shit and intentionally trying to ruin a film; The Wicker Man was the proverbial dick-slap to the face of the Academy that awarded him as Best Actor of 1995.

It was a facepalm for the ages, and one I believe most in Hollywood relive every time Nic Cage’s face pops up on a movie poster.

With potential gems like Drive Angry and Ghost Rider 2 still regularly showing up on Mr. Cage’s resume in the foreseeable future, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Academy actually tries to take back that award somewhere down the line…

 

 

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