Tag Archives: opinion

The Horrifying Implications of the World of “The Truman Show”

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Last month, Paramount announced a new slate of TV projects, including a television adaptation of “The Truman Show,” the 1998 Jim Carrey film about a man whose entire life is fabricated and broadcast as a television series. With recent shows like “Fargo” or “Teen Wolf” spring-boarding off of the success of old movies, this actually feels like a very logical next step – I’ve actually felt like “Truman Show” would be a fascinating TV series, and a real opportunity to explore the possibilities of the premise.

The original film also came at a time when reality television as we know it was just starting to break into the mainstream, and it was a very timely piece of satire. Now, reality television has developed (fallen?) to the point that Bravo is actually developing a show called “Crowd Control,” where the viewers control someone’s life with social media.

Now, more than ever before, a show based on “The Truman Show” could really work well. But it’s worth noting that there is a LOT about the premise of the film that is truly unnerving. I’m not just talking about the idea that one man’s life could be a sham – that’s surface-level stuff. No, as the title suggests, today we’re going to examine the world portrayed in the film, where normal people are obsessed with the titular “Truman Show,” and consider a few ways that this world is truly horrifying.

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Why Living Under the Rule of Robot Overlords Might Not Be So Bad

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In this modern age, science has advanced to accomplish wonders that we previously could only have imagined. 3-D printers allow us to quickly and cheaply produce anything from toys to spare parts for the space station. Special computers designed to duplicate artificial intelligence are able to read and understand human emotions. Even the advent of Google glass and self-driving cars seems like a step towards the futuristic world of science fiction.

This can only mean that a robot apocalypse is imminent.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Mike, you’re absolutely right, the robots are definitely going to rise up and take over, I have to prepare myself for the end times!” But before you rush to the supermarket and stock up on bottled water and toilet paper, let’s take a minute and examine why a future ruled by robot overlords might not be such a bad thing.

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DC Animation’s “Justice League: War” Review, Part 2: It’s Like “The Avengers,” But Terrible

Welcome back to the review of DC’s latest leaving, “Justice League: War.” Last time, we learned that Darkseid was coming to Earth. Well, a big dude who looked sort of like Darkseid was coming to Earth. Also, there are a bunch of heroes, but mostly they’ve just been beating each other up.

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Spoiler alert: This movie blows.

Continue reading DC Animation’s “Justice League: War” Review, Part 2: It’s Like “The Avengers,” But Terrible

DC Animation’s “Justice League: War” Review, Part 1: What’s So Funny About Peace, Love, and Likable Characters?

I remember a simpler time.

I remember a time when “mature storytelling” meant mature characters, and not gratuitous violence and overt sexual references. I remember a time when we were presented with main characters you could root for because you liked them, and not just by default because they were punching worse people. I remember when “the heroes bicker and then they team up” felt like a logical extension of the characters’ personalities in action, and not like the cast of Jerry Springer shoved into a foxhole together. I remember when animated superhero movies were appropriate for children, parents, and literally anybody else.

I remember a time before “Justice League: War” was released on home video.

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In the latest dropping from DC Animation, “Justice League: War,” we get the third animated adaptation of the Justice League’s founding, which presents us with a generic villain, unlikable main characters, and the first use of the word “shit” in a DC animated film. This is not progress.

Spoilers after the jump. Wait, are they technically “spoilers” if the movie is already garbage?

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Magneto, the Joker, and the Supervillain Sympathy Spectrum

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What’s your favorite superhero and supervillian?

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I’ll be honest, considering how much time I spend thinking about comic books and superheroes, I have a hard time pinning down a favorite supervillain. I think the main reason for that is how much the quality of a supervillain can depend on the writer; A talented writer can turn even the least interesting villains into genuine threats (Kraven the Hunter was a fun concept, but compared to most of Spider-Man’s rogues gallery he was fairly one-dimensional, until “Kraven’s Last Hunt” writer J.M. DeMatteis managed to make him an incredibly engaging villain). On the other hand, a terrible writer can ruin great villains (like when Brad Meltzer turned Dr. Light into a serial rapist in “Identity Crisis”).

However, I have noticed that most villains, especially in comic books, tend to break down into one of two categories – the Sympathetic Villain and the Monster.

Continue reading Magneto, the Joker, and the Supervillain Sympathy Spectrum

DC’s Animated “The Flashpoint Paradox” is a Very Faithful Adaptation of a Very Bad Story

I recently watched DC’s latest animated movie: “Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox” (adapted from the DC comic by Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert).

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A bit of background: The Flash is a guy who runs really fast. He’s a member of the Justice League. In most modern portrayals, he’s the funny guy on the team. DC has historically made very good animated movies and TV shows.

Got it? Good. Because those are all the things you should have to know going into a movie like this. This film, however, also assumes you’ve been reading comics for 30+ years, including probably the original Flashpoint comic. This does not feel like something an average person can pick up and enjoy, because (A) most of them won’t have any idea what’s going on, and (B) it’s basically terrible.

Lots of spoilers follow.

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Why Everyone’s Favorite Spider-Man Villain Kind Of Sucks (Except In That Cartoon Nobody Watched)

For those who may not know, Venom is one of Spider-Man’s most prolific villains. Introduced in the ’80s, he has all of Spider-Man’s powers, knows all of his secrets, and looks just like Spider-Man’s black costume, but with a great big shark mouth.

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He has since switched hosts a few times, and is now bonded with Flash Thompson as a hero, but today we’re focusing on his role as a villain.

More after the cut.

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I Just Saw A Superman Movie – What Comics Should I Read Next? (Opinion / Advice)

With Man of Steel hitting the big screens this weekend, a familiar problem will sweep some audience members leaving the theater. Whenever a comic book movie comes out, be it Iron Man, X-Men, or Scott Pilgrim, all the comics publishers and comic book shop owners hope for one sentence on everyone’s lips:

“That movie was great – I would love to read some comics about that character now!”

This is, of course, the goal, and in some cases, it’s true. But then the very next question to come along, and usually derails the whole thing:

“But where do I start?”

With movies based on novels, like Pride and Prejudice or Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, this isn’t an issue. Even for larger book series, like the Narnia series or even the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels, it’s still fairly easy to answer this question – start with the first book and go from there. But this is where superhero comic books have the disadvantage: many of these characters have been published continuously for 30-50 years in most cases, and some like Superman and Batman have appeared in at least one comic book every month for the past 75 years. Which means there’s a LOT of reading material out there, and no way for a new reader to sort through it all.

So, in light of his recent return to the silver screen, I thought this would be the best time to offer a few suggestions for those new Superman fans who want to read more of his exploits, but may not be sure where to start.

If you’re interested in a clean, modern, accessible origin story, with an excellent introduction of the character for new readers, I highly recommend Superman: Birthright.

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A 12-issue mini-series written by Mark Waid and with art by Leinil Yu, this is the best Superman origin of the modern age, presenting a finessed version of the Man of Tomorrow for a modern audience of the new millennium. The book has an excellent approach to Clark Kent (taking extra care to justify his glasses-and-bumbling alter ego), and he really shines as the star of the book both in and out of costume. One of the biggest issues I have with most versions of Superman is that, more often than not, he comes across as having no real personality. In Birthright, Superman feels like a real person, kind yet not a chump, powerful yet not indestructible. He doesn’t feel like the same character who has been around for so many years he’s started to feel stale – he is once again the hero you wish you could be.

On the flip-side of the coin, some comics are a love-letter to all the old comic books that have come before, all the weird powers and imaginary stories, and use them to craft terrific stories about those characters. To that end, one of the best Superman stories is All-Star Superman.

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Anther 12-issue mini-series, written by Grant Morrison with art by Frank Quitely, All-Star Superman tells the story of Superman discovering he is going to die very soon, and setting his affairs in order (while also fighting giant robots and monsters that eat Time). You don’t have to know anything about Superman or his exploits or his enemies – the book will take you along for the ride either way. All-Star presents a thoughtful reflection on Superman and his many facets, with practically every issue telling a done-in-one story, and each dedicated to analyzing one aspect of his life. For example, one issue reflects on his role as the Last Son of Krypton, while another highlights his relationship with Jimmy Olsen: Superman’s Pal™. Together, these stories come together and tell a lovely exploration of who Superman is, and what makes him such a great character. This is an interesting companion to Birthright, for while that comic is an excellent example of Superman’s origin story in its purest, distilled form, so too does All-Star seem to be the inevitable conclusion to the Superman mythos.

There are several other books I could recommend, but if I had to pick only one more, I would choose yet another out-of-continuity masterpiece – Superman: Secret Identity.

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Another miniseries, this one by Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen. Yet this one is a bit different than the others… This is not a story about Clark Kent, the boy from Kansas who gets superpowers and hides his true identity from the world. This is a story about Clark Kent, a boy from Kansas who is named after Clark Kent from Superman comics because his parents thought it was kind of funny, and ends up manifesting superpowers apparently out of nowhere. He hides his abilities, but does go on to perform heroic acts dressed as Superman – and if any witnesses see him, who would believe them? I know this may be a strange comic to be on this list, but I think it’s terrific, as it actually analyzes what one of us would do – in a world with Superman movies, cartoons, t-shirts and lunch-boxes – if we found ourself possessed with the incredible abilities of the Man of Steel?

There have been several incredible Superman comics over the years, and no list is ever complete, but I definitely consider any of these comics to be a great place to start. These are some of my favorites for how they characterize Superman, and his greatest ability – the power to inspire the best in people.

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Musings – The New Green Lantern, or How Diversity is Sometimes Still Super-Racist

I’ll freely admit I’m not reading a lot of current DC comics. Despite being hailed as a brand new jumping on point, the New 52 did nothing for me. I’m reading Scott Snyder’s Batman (which is amazing), and a couple others, but overall most of the books just aren’t for me. And again, in all fairness, I’ve never been a big DC fan. I love their animation QUITE a bit, but when it comes to the comics, a lot of their characters just don’t grab me – I’m down for anything if it’s well-written, but for my money, once you get past Batman, pickings get pretty slim.

So, yeah, I’m not necessarily the target audience for DC’s latest character reveal, but I still had some thoughts to share on the new Green Lantern, an Arab-American named Baz.

First things first: I have no issue with an Arab-American superhero, and I think more creators should be aiming for diversity. But I think DC may have missed the mark on this one. See below.

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More after the cut.

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