Mutants vs. Pandas (A Back to Back Movie Review)

Kung Fu Panda 2

Kung Fu Panda 2

Po the Panda kicks Professor Charles Xavier’s band of merry mutants a notch this summer. I caught both X-Men: First Class and Kung Fu Panda 2 this week and I really liked the latter a whole lot more. Both movies were decent but Kung Fu Panda 2 was a whole lot more entertaining and left me in stitches last Tuesday.

Jack Black’s a hoot as Po and the makers have really outdone themselves. Kung Fu Panda was good but the sequel is way better. It has the 3 things that I always look for in most of the movies that make the cut:

  1. It was funny.
  2. It had some life lessons.
  3. It had great characters.

I give a hilarious 5 out of 5 to Kung Fu Panda 2 and I think it’d be great in 3D. Maybe I’ll go catch it again if I have some spare time or if I have friends who haven’t yet seen it to go with.

X-Men: First Class

X-Men: First Class

X-Men: First Class is a decent watch. Michael Fassbender as expected was excellent in the role of Magneto and the movie does serve as a lead up to the older X-Men movies; which isn’t a surprise seeing as how Bryan Singer had a part to play in the making of this movie. James McAvoy on the other hand wasn’t that great as a much younger Professor X but then again that’s probably me having a different vision of Xavier from the comic books.

The Cuban Missile Crisis would have made for a great story but somehow the plot failed to deliver. Thankfully January Jones serves as great eye candy as the super sexy Emma Frost (whom I really love in her current comic book incarnation).

January Jones as Emma Frost

January Jones as Emma Frost

X-Men: First Class would kinda disappoint fans of the comic books but then again I’ve got Iron Man as the standard bearer when it comes to comic book flicks. I give X-Men: First Class a so-so 3 out of 5.

Up next: Green Lantern!

Coming Soon! X-Men: First Class

X-Men: First Class

X-Men: First Class

As a huge fan of the X-Men and having grown up with them as a teen I am pretty stoked with the upcoming X-Men: First Class movie. Hopefully it’d be a return to form for the franchise as the last 2 movies were pretty crappy. X-Men United was a total waste of time and the same goes for Wolverine: Origins. The Cuban Missile Crisis, JFK and mutants.

Magneto

Magneto

What else can we look forward to in the new movie? A young Magneto is worth a visit and featuring him makes the movie a whole lot more interesting. Hopefully the makers would do justice in portraying Xavier’s complex relationship with the his friend & foe. Michael Fassbender certainly looks the part so here’s hoping that he’ll be able to pull it off. I’ve gained a greater respect for the character since my recent acquisition of Magneto Testament and it’d be a blast to see the Master of Magnetism on the side of the angels this time around.

X-Men: First Class opens 2 June.

The Super-Detailed Artwork of Chris Bachalo

I’ve not written about comic books in awhile so here’s a quick look at one my favourite pencillers Chris Bachalo.

Generation X #1

Generation X #1

My very first encounter with Mr. Bachalo’s artwork occurred quite early in my teenaged obsession with comic books and I found myself picking up Generation X #1 as a follow-up to Marvel’s Phalanx Covenant X-Event. I followed the series for quite awhile before abandoning it (budget constraints and a waning interest in comics played a big part in it). At that point in time I’ll have to admit that Mr. Bachalo’s artwork wasn’t that great and my later purchases in college confirmed it (I picked up a trade of Vertigo’s Death) but I followed Generation X religiously due to its connection to the X-books. Bachalo’s style gets a whole lot more exciting and stylised sometime in the late 90’s I think cos’ I remember the art in Generation X evolving a year or two later and the cartoony detailed style that I’ve come to love suddenly burst onto its pages. Just compare the chromium cover from Issue 1 of Generation X to the one below and you’ll see what I mean.

Generation X #21

Generation X #21

What I love most about Chris’ artwork is the fact that there’s so much detail in every panel and he’s got a unique style that’s super stylised. It’s cartoony but there’s enough realism in it to make characters, facial expressions and other detail stand out. The best part about poring through a comic book by Bachalo is the fact that there are a lot of little things that he draws into the background that’s a hoot to pick out. You’ll find cute little frogs in the midst of a fight scene, or little bits of candy lying around… there’s just so much in one panel. It’d be great to own a piece of original Chris Bachalo artwork; heh… I’d frame it somewhere.

Anyways, I’m always on the look out for Chris Bachalo stuff and so far I own quite a few books that feature him either as the permanent penciller or as a guest. Here’s a run down of what I have that you might wanna pick up should you wanna give him a go (hopefully I don’t miss out on anything, I actually had to go through my bookshelf to put this list together):

Marvel Stuff

Curse of the Mutants: Storm and Gambit

Curse of the Mutants: Storm and Gambit

  1. Generation X #1-#26 (Bachalo’s art evolved into an early state of what it is now somewhere during his run on this series)
  2. Generation Next #1 – #4
  3. X-Men: The New Age of Apocalypse
  4. X-Men: Supernovas
  5. X-Men: Messiah Complex
  6. Ultimate War #1=#4
  7. Ultimate X-Men #18 & #19
  8. Curse of the Mutants: Storm & Gambit
  9. X-Men #7-#10 (the current on-going series)
  10. New Avengers: Search for the Sorceror Supreme (more Billy Tan than Bachalo tho’… sigh)

Cliffhanger

  1. Steampunk: Catechism
  2. Steampunk #1-#12

Vertigo

  1. The Witching Hour: Book One
  2. Death: The High Cost of Living

I’m looking forward to his upcoming run on the Avengers. CBR has some unlettered preview art and it all looks good. Check it out here.

Bryan Singer Heroics

It’s been a quiet weekend and I’ve been watching Bryan Singer’s last few superhero movies in the background and re-visited X-Men, X2 and Superman Returns whilst puttering about the house to catch up on chores. Here are some of my thoughts on all 3 movies as I watched them today (in fact, Superman Returns is just about to end).

X-Men

X-Men

X-Men & X2

In all honesty I must say that both X-Men movies don’t feel as great as they did when I first caught them years ago in the cinemas. Bryan Singer is a great character director but somehow it just doesn’t work in X-Men. Of course it doesn’t help that the X-Men movies are Wolverine-centric movies but I must say that they did make the right decision to place Logan at the forefront of both flicks. Hugh Jackman is great as Wolverine as is Dutch actress Famke Janssen (whom I first caught in Golden Eye) as Jean Grey.

The X-Men!

The X-Men!

Of the two, X2 remains my favourite as we get a peek at Wolverine’s origin in that one plus the plot draws somewhat from the classic plotline in which Jean Grey transforms into Phoenix. X2 has an iconic scene at the close of the movie where we get a glimpse of a flaming phoenix burning at beneath the surface of the water. Scenes like that bring out the fan-boy in me.

On the whole, the X-Men movies seem to be dulled down by how realistic they try to make the movie. Both X-Men movies take themselves a little too seriously and all the black costumes are dull. Granted colourful spandex wouldn’t have worked but going with black somehow steals away some of the comic-book magic that I’ve come to associate with the X-Men.

Superman Returns

Superman Returns

Superman Returns

Superman Returns still remains a favourite of mine (probably due to the fact that I have a very good memory connected with the movie). It’s pretty long and while it’s not epic, the human element works to make Superman more relatable. Bryan Singer pays multiple homages to the Richard Donner’s original movies. The characters have great chemistry and the underlying romance between Kate Bosworth’s Lois Lane and Brandon Routh’s Superman is great stuff. The scene in which Superman eavesdrops on Lois where he overhears her saying that she doesn’t love him cuts me every single time.

Superman's Awesome Costume

Superman's Awesome Costume

The movie’s take on Superman’s costume is great too with little details like the texturing on the suit. The production values are a whole lot better in Superman Returns and the fact that it ties back to the original movies does give the Superman a lil’ more depth. I know most people don’t have good things to say about Superman Returns but I personally like it a whole lot just for the fact that the movie emphasises the Man more than the Super.

The funny thing about both X-Men and Superman Returns is that James Marsden is in all 3 flicks and sadly he plays second fiddle in love as Cyclops and as Richard Perry. Heh… that’s just a minor observation.

Anyways, we’re looking at a Superman reboot soon and I really, really hope they don’t make the new Superman movie as dark as Christopher Nolan’s Batman. I’m looking forward to this year’s Thor (May 6th) and X-Men: First Class (June 3rd). It’s gonna be a banner year for comic book heroes and for some reason I’m really looking forward to Thor and my expectations are pretty high for that one. Kenneth Branagh seems weird as the director of choice but with a history of Shakesperean movies behind him I’m thinking that it does seem like the perfect fit.

Till next time. Have a good weekend everyone!

September 09′ Hot Picks

Comic books are making a comeback in a big way! It’s exciting to see what’s happening right now with a wave of European writers making their presence felt in both DC and Marvel.

Blackest Night #3

Blackest Night #3

Geoff Johns, the scribe on the Green Lantern is causing waves in the DC Universe. Green Lantern fans won’t want to miss out on “The Blackest Night” maxi series that is currently on-going. I don’t really read much these days but I’m finding that lots of great stories are coming out from DC and it would seem as if Marvel is playing catch-up right now. The upcoming X Necrosha crossover in the X-books seems very much like Marvel is mimicking what’s going on with the “Blackest Night” event that’s happening all across the DCU. Why do I say that? Well, the free postcard that I picked up from the Mindshop Tuesday night had dead X-Men on it in Technovirus form. Heh. I’m kinda looking forward to that cos’ Clayton Crain’s doing art chores on that one for X-Force.

Necrosha X.

X Necrosha.

Back to “Blackest Night”. It’s pretty amazing what Johns is doing as he keeps me on the edge of my seat month after month with each issue. Good stuff indeed. I also picked up the “Rage of the Red Lanterns” trade which serves as a prelude to “The Blackest Night” and I found it to be a pretty good read too. Too bad I can’t say the same of DC’s “Final Crisis”. Anyways, keep an eye out for this and I’m glad I’m not reading up on spoilers online cos’ the writing in this series so far has been phenomenal. For the uninitiated “The Blackest Night” features lots of dead heroes & villains being raised all across the DCU by the mysterious “Black Lantern” rings. Who controls these rings? And why are the rings raising the dead? The answers have yet to be revealed and I’m gonna follow Geoff Johns as he takes his readers all the way to the very end! Let’s not forgot Ivan Reis’ fantastic artwork. Really, really good stuff!

Arkham Asylum.

Arkham Asylum.

On the gaming front I’ve just finished “Arkham Asylum” on the PS3 and it’s a short but really fun game. In fact I’m actually playing it on hard now and running around Arkham island looking for trophies and riddles to solve. The plot in the game is pretty alright and I must say that the voice work is top-notch. Of course one would expect nothing less from Paul Dini who has been writing “Batman: Animated” stories for the better part of the last decade or so. The game is brilliant in that the combo system is easy to pick-up and while simple it somehow doesn’t fall into the category of button-mashing. The graphics are pretty amazing but then again one wouldn’t expect anything less from a game that uses the Unreal engine.

If you’ve got a PS3 or XBOX 360 I highly recommend “Arkham Asylum” cos’ it’s a really fun romp as the Dark Knight. For those of you who’ve missed out on the first 3 issues of “Blackest Night” never fear cos’ I’m pretty sure that a tradepaperback is in the works and it’ll be handsomely bound in hardcover just like the 2 volumes I have that collects the entire Sinestro Corps War saga.

Till next time.

X-Men: Messiah CompleX

Messiah CompleX

Messiah CompleX

The collected edition of Messiah Complex has some pretty nice artwork. Story-wise it’s just so-so. I personally prefer Joss Whedon’s take on the X-men but the entire team here does a pretty decent job of shaking up the X-universe. It’s interesting to see characters like Jamie Madrox a.k.a. Multiple Man fleshed out more and taking a more central role rather than just the stalwarts of Wolverine, Cyclops, etc. The pace of the story is fast & exciting and the action doesn’t let up. If this was turned into a movie it’d be a BIG BIG one. Chris Bachalo is featured so little here and I would have loved it if every part of the story was illustrated by him. Sigh … Marc Silvestri’s artwork is the pits these days … or maybe I’ve just grown up and I can spot the inconsistencies more compared to when I was younger. Give this one a spin cos’ Messiah Complex is a major update to the X-universe that you won’t want to miss.

Rating: 3 Stars (out of 5)