Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Thoughts On Chris Evans As Captain America

Let’s get one thing straight:

I like Captain America.

I like his “patriotic weakling to walking symbol of hope and freedom” origin story.

I like his old timey way, and how it juxtaposes so well with the often times annoying immature antics of today’s comic superheroes.

I like his powers and abilities, as the range of his physical capabilities allows him to be “super,” while at the same time quite vulnerable.

Hell, as goofy as it can look at times, I even like his costume design.

Well, except for this, the "flag conspicuously pointing at crotch" variant.

When I first heard that Chris Evans was going to be playing Cap in Captain America: The First Avenger movie, my initial reaction was to say:

“Really?  Chris Evans is in another comic book movie?”

Off the top of my head, Chris Evans has been in 4 comic book movies, playing 3 different characters, with no less than 2 more roles down the road if you count the Captain America film in question, and his appearance in the upcoming Avengers film.

Chris Evans has an acting portfolio. At least I think so anyway.

Make no mistake, comic book movies as still very much “in” at the moment, and if anyone is making bank off of the trend, my guess is it would be Mr. Evans.

Now, while that may have been my initial reaction to the Captain America casting news; my honest to God feelings on the matter were lodged somewhere in the valley between confusion and disbelief.

To date, I still can’t understand why he was chosen for the Captain America role.

With the exception of Street Kings, wherein he played a very vanilla and by the book cop; every role I’ve seen Evans in has had him cast as the “funny guy” or failing that, the “funny guy that can set himself on fire.”

Although he was without a doubt the best part of the Fantastic 4 movies, that doesn't mean they weren't pure ass.

Truth be told, I’ve never been disappointed by any of his performances, not that that’s saying much; but the point is:

Unless he’s hiding some well-concealed stoicism or acting range beneath his “funny guy” exterior, he just doesn’t seem like Cap to me.

Captain America is one of those characters that, to me; is more easily represented as a somewhat older man.

While the First Avenger is most likely going to take place exclusively in the WWII era, when Steve Rogers was cutting his teeth on Nazis, for some reason I’ve always pictured Captain America as being one of those guys that’s been a manly man since the cradle.

Kind of like Charles Bronson, James Coburn, or Anthony Hopkins.

Pictured: Charles Bronson at 9 months.

I know It’s unfair of me to judge an actor, or a film for that matter; before it’s even had a trailer, but in my mind the actors that would have best played Captain America have already aged themselves out of the running.

Despite a distinct lack of physicality, I always felt that Robert Redford could’ve made for a very effective Captain America.

His voice, face, hair color, acting ability and God given aura of gravitas would’ve gone a long way towards legitimizing the character and the film.

Not only that, with movies like A River Runs Through It, and The Natural under his belt, he always had that all-American feel to him.

Some people said the same of Kevin Costner.

Said people are of course, utterly retarded and full of shit, as Costner’s just about the most boring and vanilla pile of feces to ever walk the face of the Earth.

Pictured: Feces with a soul patch.

Sadly, “boring as shit” seems to describe far too many young actors these days.

Maybe it’s just because they’re young, and seem to be cast more for their looks than their acting ability, but to me it seems like most of the big-budget blockbuster movie actors these days just seem to lack “character,” at least in a physical sense.

When you look at the actors from back in the day, they had a look to them that lent a lot to their performances.

Not only that, in the post-studio picture era, subtlety was an acting trait that was considered praise worthy among performers, a fact that has not changed since; but seemingly has eluded many of the young actors of today.

..... Y'know, I'm not even gonna' say anything.

 

I’m rambling.

Anyway, at this point in time, The First Avenger seems like a pretty decent movie on paper.

It has a pretty strong cast, with Hugo Weaving sure to steal the show as The Red Skull, and a competent, if somewhat bipolar director at the helm in the form of Joe Johnston.

If Johnston gives us another Rocketeer or Jumanji, then Captain America’s gonna’ kick some serious ass.

If he gives us another Jurassic Park III though, then I just might have to sit this one out.

In either case, the man has shown considerable zeal for crafting old timey period films, not to mention he has a tremendous visual effects background, so if nothing else; the film will be pretty to look at…

That being said, on a final note, I’d just like to say that I sincerely disapprove of Marvel’s decision to rely on the Ultimate Universe for some of the visual stylings and character interpretations for their current and future films.

I understand that the Ultimate Universe has not been confirmed to be used as direct source material for said films, but from what I’ve seen, that seems to the case.

Maybe it’s because the Ultimate Universe was never targeted at my age group, as it’s intended audience is that of younger, less seasoned comic fans, but honestly I’ve never seen the appeal of it.

I can understand Marvel’s desire to use the black Nick Fury, as Samuel L. Jackson is the bees knees in the eyes of dorky haole kids, but to be perfectly honest; it makes me sad that both the Captain America and Thor movie’s character designs have drawn influence from the Ultimate Universe.

Long story short, Ultimate Thor is okay, but Ultimate Captain America is absolutely hideous in my eyes.

Concept art from the movie. Where's the fuckin' wings!!!??

 

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Bayonetta: First Impressions

BUTT.

In light of yesterday’s Devil May Cry post, I figure it’s appropriate that I take the time to share some of my thoughts on the similar, but also very different game:

Bayonetta on the Xbox 360.

Please bear in mind that, as of this post, I’ve only got about 2 and a half hours of gameplay under my belt.

Developed by Sega, and directed by the prolific and uber-talented Hideki Kamiya of the now defunct Clover Studio, as well as the original Devil May Cry fame, Bayonetta is, in a word:

JAPANESE.

Every pixel, frame, word and beat of Bayonetta is absolutely gushing with Japanese zaniness and anime-esque melodrama, such that my first few minutes with the game were almost too much to bear.

The aesthetic is way over-the-top, and the story and characters decidedly tongue-in-cheek, and for the most part, not all that appealing to me from a personal standpoint.

Nope, still not appealing. Goddamn she got a tiny head...

Despite this, I will say this:

The artistic design of the game, while not necessarily up my alley; is actually quite impressive.

The costuming and ornamentation of the character designs, while perhaps a little bit too flashy and intricate for it’s own good, are quite unique and certainly praise worthy.

Huh, this I like. Go figure...

In fact, I could honestly see myself owning a coffee table book of the production materials for Bayonetta at some point.

Anyway, the flashy cut scenes of Bayonetta, (choreographed by the always excellent Yuji Shimomura of Versus and Death Trance fame) annoy me much in the same way that Devil May Cry’s do.

They’re overlong, they often show the characters behaving contrary to how they do in-game, (Anybody at all tired of seeing Dante be invincible in cut scenes, only to be a total pussy in-game? Anybody?) and they feel artificial, like flash for the sake of flash.

Kind of like any movie by:

Pictured: "Flash" incarnate.

I guess the cut scenes just frustrate me because they are actually quite intrusive to the gameplay experience.

Like Devil May Cry, Bayonetta is a game all about action, and when the action is frequently interrupted by cut scenes, showing my character busting out awesome moves that I’d like to see myself do in-game, I get just a little bit frustrated.

Bottom line, 2 hours into Bayonetta, I can’t help but feel that the pacing is not quite up to snuff, as the gameplay seems to come in all too infrequent spurts.

Which brings me to my 2nd, and ultimately far more critical gripe:

Bayonetta’s learning curve is just plain mean.

We're talkin' Kobe Mean Face-Mean!

While the game, like any current gen game, comes with the obligatory introductory tutorial sequence that seems to be essential to the illiterate, non-instruction manual reading gamers of today, outside of teaching you the basic button inputs of the game, Bayonetta doesn’t really teach you how to play the game.

Sure, you can put up a good fight, and sure you know what you’re doing for the most part, but at the end of the day, if you’re playing the game straight through as I am, you’re just not given enough time to get a grip on the gameplay before the game starts tossing you some serious shit to deal with.

"Oh don't mind me, I'm just the first boss. Excuse me while I TOTALLY WRECK YOUR SHIT while eating bagels and lox."

This is coming from someone that utterly beasted half of the Devil May Cry series.

My problem is this:

Bayonetta didn’t give me enough time to warm-up to it.

In the Devil May Cry series, the basic enemies are reactive to your blows, staggering and generally being reduced to punching bags the moment you first lay into them.

This is not the case in Bayonetta.

There is no fodder in Bayonetta.

Nope, none of these.

All of the enemies in Bayonetta are able to put up a decent fight, thusly leaving you with nobody hone your skills on.

Every fight is a desperate struggle.

From what I can tell, my complaint may in fact be a result of me having failed to grasp the concept of the dodge system and the Witch Time AKA Bullet Time mechanic.

I don't care what you tell me man. There IS a spoon, and I'm eating my fuckin' Cheerios with it as we speak. Fuckin' new-age bullshit...

Anyway, at this point, I’m tempted to say I like Devil May Cry 4 better, but I’m only a few hours in, so we’ll see.

I’m still having fun with Bayonetta.

I love the gorgeous presentation and liberal use of the context sensitive button mashing segments.

I’m diggin’ the core gameplay, but at this point I truly do suck at it.

Time will tell…

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Favorite Cover Artists: Tim Bradstreet

In keeping with the “grim and gritty” theme we established yesterday with my naming of Francesco Mattina as one of my favorite comic book cover artists, today we pay tribute to the prolific and uber-talented Tim Bradstreet.

Though he’s been working in the industry since the early 90’s, I first took notice of Mr. Bradstreet’s work when I first got back into comics in the mid-2000’s.

The comic responsible for getting me back into the mix, was of course Garth Ennis’ work on the Max version of the Punisher.

Despite all the laser sights, my money's on The Punisher in this one...

Bradstreet was responsible for designing the covers for every cover in the Punisher series, up until Ennis left the book, which of course was right around the time I stopped reading it.

Tim Bradstreet’s work is, much like Francesco Mattina’s, of the photorealistic variety.

Personally, I wouldn't trust a gold-toothed Michael Clark Duncan with my baby. Just sayin'...

In fact, though I can’t speak to Mr. Mattina’s artistic process, I know for a fact that Mr. Bradstreet makes extensive use of models and live-photo references of his own design.

Including our boy Thomas Jane!

Through tracing these photos, and then shading, stylizing them, and placing the figures in front of some of the dingiest, grimiest locales known to man,  Bradstreet is able to create some truly provocative imagery.

So... They really picked Keanu Reeves to play this guy?

Bradstreet’s work has a very distinct and consistent style to it that deals with composition in a way that’s much closer to photography than traditional pen and paper artistry.

That’s not to say Tim Bradstreet isn’t a true artistic talent, he is; it’s just that his work seems to stem from someone with more of an eye for photography than anything else.

I like this. No funny caption this time, sorry.

Unlike some of the more graphic design oriented cover artists in the comic industry, Bradstreet’s covers rarely ever contain any sort of dynamic colors or vector art.

More often than not, Bradstreet’s covers consist of little more than a topical image of the principle characters of the book, and amazingly enough, that’s usually enough to impress.

An example of a cover that totally bypasses any background elements in favor of placing all attention of the central figure.

Despite this, from time to time he puts out “louder” and more design heavy covers:

That's pretty fuckin' slick if I do say so myself.

Perhaps the most common, and striking, element of Tim Bradstreet’s covers is his propensity for obscuring his figures in shadow.

It’s a cliched technique, but in the case of most of the books that Bradstreet works on, namely some of the more pulpy books like The Punisher and Hellblazer, it works all too well.

BAD. ASS.

Anyway, that’s enough cock-sucking for one evening.

I’ve got overtime to look forward to tomorrow, so sorry for the decidedly lax post.

See yah’ tomorrow!

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