Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Review: Batman '66 # 5

Issue 5 brings back second season one-shot villain Dr Somnambula aka The Sandman. The story, by Jeff Parker, is not bad, but not a stand out, either. The art by Ruben Procopio often veers into Mad Magazine territory, as this series occasionally does. Any old timers out there remember the Batman GAF View-Master set, and the artwork in the accompanying booklet?  It would be nice to get some art in that style.  In some panels, the art takes a "new-old-look" Irv Novick look, which I liked. Some nice touches are we learn Aunt Harriet's husband's name was Walt, and there is a shot of Gotham lifted directly from the animated opening credits of the series. The Sandman induced dream sequence takes on a trippy-psychedelic 1960s feel to it. On first reading, I did not catch any connection between this story, and Sandman's last panel cameo with Minerva in issue 2 and it seems doubtful that Minerva in that one panel was really supposed to be Sandman's African-American moll, Aurora, who appears in this issue.
The second story brings back the TV version of Batgirl, who takes on the Earth Kitt version of Catwoman. Again, Jeff Parker's script is average. He gives no reason as to why there are two Catwomen in Gotham. There is an elongated fight scene that seems like filler material. The artwork by Colleen Coover is very fluid and good, and has an "Archie"/Dan DeCarlo look to it. However, her take on Chief O'Hara is inexplicably as a youngish, strapping redhead.

Overall, issue 5, while not the best, isn't the worst either. It earns a B-.

Friday, November 8, 2013

movie review: THOR THE DARK WORLD

For some reason, my movie review of THOR is this blog's most viewed entry, even though reviews of other Marvel movies, like CAPTAIN AMERICA , THE AVENGERS , and AMAZING SPIDER-MAN  have significantly lower view counts.  So, it is my responsibility to review THOR THE DARK WORLD. 

Alan Taylor takes over the director's reigns from Kenneth Branagh, and there is a shift in the franchise.  The new movie has more CGI and bigger action, but it loses characterization and fun.  The plot is often convoluted, and deals with evil elves ( read that right- evil elves) who developed a supernatural weapon called the Aether.  This coincides with the nine realms converging, and Jane Foster gets infected with the Aether, which causes the few surviving elves to reclaim the weapon so they can destroy all nine realms.  Thor is forced to seek the help of his imprisoned brother Loki in order to save the worlds. 

The majority of the movie takes place on Asgard, in what seems like an attempt to tap into the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit fan base.  Idris Elba, who became a fan favorite as Heimdall, gets a lot more screen time. One of the things that sets the modern Marvel movies apart from the post-2000 DC movies, is that the Marvel films are infused with humor and fun to balance the action and drama.  But THOR THE DARK WORLD takes a hard left turn into DC territory by nearly reaching a level of Christopher Nolan/Zack Snyder humorless darkness.  Not including a few exceptions, the only humor in this movie is provided by Kat Dennings, and there is a funny cameo by Chris Evans as Captain America. 

Why can't they make Hemsworth wear the helmet?
Instead of the character development of the first movie, this time around we get a generic sci-fi action film. The finale when the elves invade  England is a little too similar to the alien invasion in THE AVENGERS, just on a smaller scale.  Chris Hemsworth, who put a lot of character in as Thor in the first movie and THE AVENGERS, kind of just phones his performance in this time. One of the things I really don't like about the movie version of Thor is that the film makers threw out the concept of Norse mythology, opting to go with Asgard as an alien world, essentially making Thor Marvel's take of the Kryptonian Superman concept. And Thor still doesn't wear his helmet. I mean, come on... the hammer and the helmet are Thor's two biggest gimmicks.  Why won't they let Thor wear the helmet in the movies?  And there were a few moments in the movie where Thor is separated from his hammer for a length of time, I was thinking, "wow, this would be a great, dramatic moment to have him transform into Donald Blake".  But, alas, the movies have omitted that aspect of the character. Although I wouldn't label THOR THE DARK WORLD a franchise killer, it is far less enjoyable than its predecessor.