Batman Poll: Affleck Apocalypse

I know we are supposed to be on hiatus, but then the Internet lit up like a Christmas tree … on fire … doused with gasoline … when news broke that Ben Affleck will play Batman in the Man of Steel sequel. Judging from Twitter and Facebook, many, many fanfolk are not feeling this idea. Like, at all. I haven’t seen this kind of social media meltdown since the 2012 Presidential debates.

Check out some of the best tweets. Continue reading

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I have been pretty tight-lipped about my specific thoughts on Man of Steel. That’s because I was saving it for this very podcast. Last night, Erika and I were guests on Stimulated Boredom. We got on about the brave Lois Lane, a sullen Clark Kent, Christian allegory and the collateral damage of the long-awaited Superman film. We had a ton of fun talking about it and hope you enjoy the show.

But, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, there are massive spoilers in our discussion. Gargantuan. We talk about every scene we can remember in explicit detail. While I really, really want you to listen now – see the film first if you haven’t already. We’ll be here when you get back.

CLICK HERE to listen to our Man of Steel review podcast.

Man of Steel Film Logo

Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines on PBS

Aside

I love a good documentary, but none more than Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines. Last year, Erika and I had the distinct pleasure of viewing this film (and reviewing it), and it moved me beyond words. It says so many of the things I want to say here at this blog about women and comics. For this fangirl, it’s an intelligent, poignant and supremely validating look at the female superheroine and her role in shaping the American woman. It is a must see film for ALL comic book fans. Beyond comic fandom, it will enlighten the friends and families of comic lovers of the power of comics in culture.

WONDER WOMEN! THE UNTOLD STORY OF AMERICAN SUPERHEROINES will have its television broadcast premiere in the United States on PBS’s Independent Lens series on Monday, April 15, 2013. Check your local listings to confirm the time and date.

Breaking Dawn Part 2: The End is Nigh

The first time I read the The Twilight Saga, I devoured it in just a few days. All four books. And when I got to the end of Breaking Dawn, the fourth and final book, I cried in spite of the happy ending. I became so enamored with the story that I was sad that it was over.

At the time, the first film had already made it to DVD. The wheels of this massive machine were fully in motion. Knowing that all of the books would eventually be interpreted visually, I couldn’t help but wonder how the characters, scenery, and memorable moments would play out in the movies. But none more than Breaking Dawn. Would the final film be able to capture the essence of that happy (yet sad) ending in the same way? Continue reading

Random thoughts on ‘The Dark Knight Rises,’ with spoilers

Imposing in scale and length, The Dark Knight Rises takes viewers on a scenic but meandering journey — two hours and 45 minutes — that can test the limits of patience. But that’s OK. Thanks to some great acting and incredibly satisfying final scenes, these indulgences are easily forgiven. TDKR wraps up Christopher Nolan’s Bat-trilogy with style while offering some honest-to-goodness surprises and moments of pure fan delight.

This guy right here.

A few thoughts, in no particular order: Continue reading

G3 Review: The Amazing Spider-Man


Whether a Spider-Man film, especially an origin story, is necessary so soon after the last franchise ended is debatable but ultimately irrelevant. Box office take aside, the real test of a film’s legitimacy is its quality. Is the reboot that no one was clamoring for any good?

Yes, it is. The Amazing Spider-Man doesn’t always live up to the title, but it’s an entertaining, likable popcorn movie that is very lucky to have Andrew Garfield in the lead role. Garfield brings an emotional complexity and unexpected edge to this version of an extremely well-known character. His Peter Parker is a good guy and a nerd all right, but he’s got an undercurrent of anger and nervous energy that makes him exciting to watch. The Amazing Spider-Man is also a love story, and a mighty sweet one at that. Continue reading

G3 Review: Snow White and the Huntsman

With an aesthetic that falls somewhere between Game of Thrones and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, Snow White and the Huntsman is a grotesque and gorgeous journey from dark to light. The austere imagery of costumes, creatures and landscapes, plus the physical performances, come together to make magic.

A white horse, black oil, a red rose. The snow-covered castle, the dark forest, drops of blood. The brilliant use of color contrast throughout the film is as much of a story as the script. Not only are the colors striking, but so is the breathtaking scenery of coastlines, castle-scapes, and forests.

From the sharp tips of the Evil Queen’s many crowns, down to the dirt in Snow White’s fingernails, the costume design is remarkable. Theron did well enough on her own, but her stunning gowns radiate wicked power and extravagance. Snow White’s tattered revision of the classic Disney costume added a hint of nostalgia while still being something one could flee through the forest in.

This is a fairy tale after all, and overt magic is where Snow White and the Huntsman goes more Wonderland than Westeros. But the overall darkness of the film gives the magical moments that much more of an impact. These moments are welcome bursts of quick pacing. Two hours is a long time to sit through a film where you already know the plot, and you’ve known it since the age of three. While the visual effects lend much to the enjoyment of the film, the performances carry the bulk of that burden. Continue reading

G3 Review: The Avengers

If and when DC/Warner Bros. finally gets around to making a Justice League movie, it might want to take some notes from across the aisle. Not all of the Marvel movies have been homeruns, but as the first two X-Men movies and X-Men: First Class proved, it is very possible to make a highly satisfying superhero ensemble film. The Avengers is one of them.

Writer-director Joss Whedon swung for the fences, and the result is a consistently fun, exciting action movie that makes the most of a strong cast. The Avengers doesn’t just throw a bunch of comic book characters onto the screen and then blow stuff up real good. Whedon takes care in defining the players and showing how they come together to execute their first mission.

The objective is to take down that villainous Asgardian diva, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who pays S.H.I.E.L.D. an unwelcome visit to steal the Tesseract. The glowing cube is central to his plot to rule humanity via alien invasion, and Nick Fury, played by the stoically cool Samuel L. Jackson, knows he’s going to need more than one big gun to stop him. One by one, the future Avengers begin assembling, but it’s a bumpy ride. Continue reading

G3 Review: ‘Comic Con IV – A Fan’s Hope’

If you have a friend or family member who is baffled by con culture, show them the Morgan Spurlock-directed documentary Comic-Con IV: A Fan’s Hope. With sincerity and affection, it explains to the uninitiated and/or judgmental the world that our crowd knows so well. Alas, we live in a society that interprets wearing a giant, plastic cheese on your head as mere enthusiasm, but regards cosplay as weird. Go figure.

Amid all the geeking out, the movie — filmed at San Diego Comic-Con in 2010 — acknowledges the elephant in the room: Comics have been relegated to the background of a giant convention with “comic” in the name, and that is now largely about mass entertainment. It’s unreal to look at old photos of the first Comic-Con in 1970 and compare those images to the huge scene it is today.

Continue reading

‘Wonder Women’ Documentary is Powerful Viewing

“What are the consequences for women when they are strong, and when they are the central actors of their own lives?”

It isn’t hyperbole to say that every comic book fan should see “Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines,” the excellent documentary that premeired last month at the South by Southwest Film Festival. But you needn’t own a single comic book to fully enjoy this film. Thought-provoking and frequently moving, “Wonder Women!” examines the history of fictional heroines in popular culture, and how their highs and lows have reflected the lives of real American women since the 1940s. Continue reading

G3 Review: The Hunger Games

Katniss Everdeen, woman of action.

“In two weeks, 23 of you will be dead.”

One of the many uncomfortable things about watching The Hunger Games is that moment when you realize, “I’m watching The Hunger Games.” The story may be fictional, but it’s nonetheless almost physically unsettling to see children on the verge of killing or being killed.

For the five people who haven’t heard of Suzanne Collins’ wildly popular dystopian series of novels, the Hunger Games are annual contests in which 24 young people ages 12 to 18 must battle to the death until only one is left standing. Worse, it’s all packaged as a festive reality show by the wealthy Capitol, which rules the nation of Panem. A few critics have knocked the film version for not having the guts to look this forced savagery in the eye, but I disagree with that assessment. Continue reading

Wonder Women! Gives Heroines Their Due

A revealing clip from the fabulous-looking documentary Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines, makes a powerful case for the necessity of this film. In a series of street interviews, people of both sexes begin rattling off the names of comic book characters, and not a single female comes up. Not even Wonder Woman.

Wonder Women!, which makes its debut at the South by Southwest film festival next month, could go a long way toward changing that. This buzz-worthy documentary, feauturing interviews with artists and icons like Lynda Carter, Gloria Steinem and Trina Robbins, examines the evolution and history of female heroes in comic books, television and film. Directed by Kristy Guevara-Flanagan and produced by Kelcey Edwards, the movie got a huge boost from two successful Kickstarter fundraisers, which made it possible for the movie to be completed and polished for prime time. I’m dying to see it, and based on the response to the fundraising effort, it’s clear that many others are, too.

I interviewed Guevara-Flanagan for the CNN.com Geek Out! blog, and she’s clearly committed to bringing the stories of these heroines to light. Continue reading

Friday Favorite: Young Obi-Wan Kenobi

Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi

If you’re ever in the mood to start an argument, try telling an adult Star Wars fan that the prequels have some redeeming value. No one wants to hear it, and you can count me among the hardcore Star Wars fans who will not be buying a ticket for the re-release of “The Phantom Menace” in 3-D today. (For a longer analysis of that movie’s impact, check out my article on the CNN.com Geek Out! blog.)

But for all my hard feelings about Episodes I-III, I have to admit that George Lucas got one thing right: casting Ewan McGregor as young Obi-Wan Kenobi. Continue reading

2011 Memorable Moment: Charles and Erik’s Mind-Meld

FassAvoy!

Michael Fassbender’s Erik Lehnsherr and James McAvoy’s Charles Xavier were a match made in cinema heaven in this summer’s “X-Men: First Class.” (See review here.) The push and pull between the two of them is the movie’s greatest strength, and their relationship is essentially — as McAvoy has called it — a love story.

Maybe that’s why the scene where Charles helps the future Magneto discover the magnitude of his mutant power goes right to the gut. During a training session, Erik attempts to turn a massive satellite and fails because he’s using the wrong fuel: anger. Charles/Yoda advises him that “true focus lies somewhere between rage and serenity,” and he reaches into his friend’s mind to find a beautiful memory — one of his mother. Erik tries again and the damn thing moves. Best personal trainer ever.

It’s Charles’ belief in his friend’s goodness and Erik’s awe at his own gift that make this moment a killer, and one of the best in X-movie history.

G3 Review: Free Enterprise

Free Enterprise
Rating: R
Director: Robert Meyer Burnett
Writers: Robert Meyer Burnett and Mark A. Altman
Starring: Rafer Weigel, Eric McCormack and William Shatner

“Free Enterprise” may be the geekiest movie I had never heard of. A few weeks ago, a generous friend hooked me up with a copy of the film, which was released in just a

handful of theaters in 1998 and quickly disappeared. That’s a shame, because this story about two friends on the edge of 30 is a funny, bottomless pit of sci-fi and pop culture references. It’s also a sharp and ultimately sweet movie about relationships and fumbling toward adulthood.

Robert (Rafer Weigel), the slacker of the duo, would rather spend his money on a Mego Mighty Isis doll than his utility bill, and he can’t stop himself from correcting a bungled Star Trek reference. However, he’s not the stereotypical nerd who can’t get a date. Robert definitely gets around, but his man-child tendencies inevitably undermine the romance. As one woman puts it, “Wow. Your place looks like a really rich fourth-grader lives here.”

Mark (played by Eric McCormack of “Will & Grace”) is a sci-fi magazine editor who is practically ossified in cynicism and quietly freaked out about turning 30. While he’s more responsible than Robert, Mark is seriously impaired when it comes to intimacy. The most exciting part of his evening is when an anonymous woman having (or faking) an orgasm leaves a recording on his answering machine. Mark is kind of a dick, but he does help Robert out of a financial jam more than once. There’s a heart beneath those withering one-liners. Neither guy is exactly living the dream. Robert edits trashy films for a living, and Mark’s passion project is a movie called “Bradykillers.” Yes, that would be a film about the serial murder of the Brady Bunch.

Mark and Robert meet their idol William Shatner in a bookstore one night, and after going into a babbling fanboy fit, they end up befriending the star. Their obsession with Shatner goes all the way back to childhood when they considered him a sort of guardian angel, so it’s a bit of a shock for them to discover that he’s very human. Later, Robert meets the girl of his dreams in a comic book shop and (barely) recovers after assuming she’s buying “Sandman” for her boyfriend. Robert falls deeply in love with Claire, ignoring friends and employer, but bad habits come back to haunt him. For all the humor, there’s a tenderness in this movie that I didn’t expect.

In addition to Shatner’s charmingly self-effacing performance, there are a number of laugh-out-loud moments and delightful in-jokes. The “Logan’s Run” dream sequence was gold, as were the strategically placed “Star Wars” quotes. I plan to watch it again because I’m certain that I missed something.

I’ll admit that the movie is dated (Do the rappers have to be so stereotypical?) and doesn’t exactly have the highest production values. As much as I dug it, I wonder whether it would resonate as much with those outside Generation X because of the plentiful allusions to ’70s nerdery. However, my civilian spouse liked it, so that indicates some mainstream appeal.

Minor shortcomings aside, “Free Enterprise” is a well-written love letter to the geek community, and it deserves a bigger audience. I’m doing my part to spread the word.

G3 Review: Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America (Chris Evans) and Bucky (Sebastian Stan).

The best comic book movies find the balance between pleasing fans and entertaining people who don’t know their adamantium from their vibranium. As sturdy and sincere as its title hero, Captain America: The First Avenger pulls it off. It’s an accessible origin story with big, old-fashioned heart, and the geek in me was thrilled to see that famous shield slice the air. Continue reading

G3 Review: Super 8

Between outrageous ticket prices and patrons who can’t stop texting/Tweeting/yapping for even two lousy seconds after the lights go down, I’ve often wondered whether it’s still possible to experience child-like joy at the movies. However, my skepticism was no match for the wonderful J.J. Abrams-directed thriller Super 8. It was like time travel. Just seconds into this film, I could feel myself turning back into that 12-year-old girl who was watching E.T. for the first time. Continue reading

G3 Review: Green Lantern

“The bigger you are, the faster you burn.”

Disclaimer: First and foremost, I am a Green Lantern fangirl. I shall give my best impression of an objective film critic type. Now, shall we?

Let’s start off with a roll call.

Hal Jordan
Behind Hal’s sarcastic, white-bread machismo exists a human determined to get the job done; hence, our willful leading man. Insert Ryan Reynolds. I know many of you were rolling your eyes when he was cast as Hal Jordan, but I was not. I think he fits the character (and that suit) like a glove. Continue reading

G3 Review: X-Men: First Class


We all bring our baggage to movie adaptations of comic books, terrified that filmmakers will eff up the stories we hold dear. They’ve certainly done it before, so my Marvel-leaning friends’ concerns about X-Men: First Class were understandable. Whenever I said that the movie looked like a winner, at least one person would reply, “I doubt it.”

But how can you not be the tiniest bit excited by those trailers showing the early days of Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr, the future Professor X and Magneto? Continue reading

Poll: What’s Your Summer Superhero Pick?

Are you ready for some superheroes? Thor, the first entry in this summer’s cinema geek-a-palooza, is storming a theater near you on May 6. Hot on his mighty Asgardian heels are X-Men First Class (June 3), Green Lantern (June 17), and Captain America: The First Avenger (July 22). The trailers have ranged from “Holy hell!” to “Hmm,” but I predict they’ll all make a truckloads of cash. While I’m generally a DC gal, I have to say that the Captain America promos have blown me away — far more than the DC/Warner Bros. entry Green Lantern. Of course, I’ll end up seeing them all.

What about you? With the embarrassment of riches headed our way, what superhero flick are you most excited about?