Tag Archives: Spider-Man

Christmas Loot 2008

It’s become something of a tradition to enumerate my Christmas loot, so here we go:

  • More Information Than You Require by John HodgmanMore Information Than You Require by John Hodgman. I was fortunate enough to obtain the audio version of Hodgman’s previous book, The Areas of My Expertise, when it was offered as a free download from iTunes a while back. Now I’ve got the second volume of COMPLETE WORLD KNOWLEDGE and have already begun to educate myself on matters of United States Presidents who had hooks for hands, PROGNOSTICATION by means of pig spleen ((I believe the technical term is “splenology”.)) and the largely unsung PRECIPITATION WAR between Richmond, VA and Milwaukee, WI. This particular volume is not yet available in audio format (free or otherwise), and so I am forced to enjoy it in WRETCHED HARDCOVER, an inconvenience I suffer gladly, for Mr. Hodgman’s wit is dry and the knowledge he imparts nigh-indispensible. ((Imparting indispensible knowledge may seem at best highly improbable and at worst practically impossible, but I daresay John Hodgman manages it with nothing less than panache as smooth as goose liver paté.)) In the brief span of time since I tore away the festive holiday wrapping ((This is an exaggeration; it was actually festive white tissue paper.)) to reveal the earth-tones of the cover of More Information Than You Require, I have read approximately half of the book and already my brain threatens to burst.
  • In the Company of Ogres by A. Lee MartinezIn the Company of Ogres by A. Lee Martinez. I have my sights set on reading The Automatic Detective, another novel by A. Lee Martinez, but I am determined to read all of the novels which preceded it first, and in the order in which they were published. This despite the fact that The Automatic Detective is not a sequel, but a standalone work. I have already completed Gil’s All Fright Diner, a tale that apparently received some accolade in the realm of Young Adult fiction, ((I am not at all certain that Gil’s All Fright Diner—fraught as it is with profanity, obscenity and no small amount of sexual content—ought to be marketed to the Young Adult audience, but it might go over well with the Young-at-Heart Adult audience.)) and am looking forward to both In the Company of Ogres and A Nameless Witch, followed inevitably by The Automatic Detective.
  • The Hood of the Ninja. There may be another name for this 4-in-1 convertible hood (which can assume the form of a scarf, muzzle, hood or balaclava), but I don’t believe to call it anything else would be appropriate. I briefly considered posting a photo of myself wearing the hood, but that plan was set aside when I realized that donning the garment renders me invisible.
  • Filthy lucre. There are those who find gifts of money impersonal and in poor taste, but I do not count myself among them, particularly when I am trying to accumulate the funds necessary to purchase an Xbox 360. ((Which I am.))

My young apprentice shall henceforth be known as “El Tigre”, for indeed he made out like a bandit. Here is but a sampling of the gifts he received:

  • Frosty the Snowman. This DVD includes the inferior 1992 sequel, Frosty Returns, featuring John Goodman as the old-silk-hatted snowman and Jonathan Winters as the narrator. ((I have nothing but respect for Mr. Winters, but he is no Jimmy Durante.)) Worse yet, there is a trailer for another sequel, this one produced in 2005 and titled Legend of Frosty the Snowman. I admit to a certain amount of curiosity with regard to Legend, if only because Burt Reynolds assumes the role of narrator.
  • Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed Game. “Elusive” is the word that most describes this game. We searched multiple Toys R Usses, ((Yes, “Usses”.)) Wals*Mart and Targéts without success before finding a single copy at Joseph Beth Booksellers. The game is adapted from a popular children’s rhyme which tells the tale of five foolish simians, a coil-spring mattress and a pediatrician whose advice goes unheeded. It is not for the faint of heart.
  • The Amazing Spider-Man Bop BagThe Amazing Spider-Man Bop Bag. I admit that after I inflated the bop bag to its full 48″, ((Height, not girth.)) I gave it a couple of whacks to express my displeasure with the wall-crawler for Spider-Man 3. ((Where is your spider-sense now, web-slinger? Where is your spider-sense now?)) I did this only because Santa Claus lacked the foresight to bring me an inflatable Sam Raimi bop bag.
  • Buzz Lightyear. A recent interest in the Toy Story movies revealed that, though we own a Sheriff Woody doll, the delusional Space Ranger with an “impressive wingspan” who becomes Woody’s boon companion was nowhere to be found in the International House of Johnson. This deficit has now been corrected.
  • Fisher Price Easy Link. This device, which connects to a computer via USB port, allows a toddler to gain access to certain web-based activites, while ostensibly preventing said toddler from accessing the Intertubes as a whole or the computer’s local hard drive. Though I was impressed with how quickly my young apprentice took to the mouse, I am less than thrilled to report that he has yet to circumvent the Easy Link’s security. Perhaps it is time for he and I to sit down for a movie marathon; Hackers, Sneakers and Swordfish, for starters, followed by TRON and that one scene from Jurassic Park. ((“It’s a UNIX system! I know this!”)) The boy needs some skillz.

Prior to the arrival of Christmas, we received a gift basket of Wolferman‘s Very Tasty® Brand ((This is not the actual brand name, though the muffins are, in fact, Very Tasty.)) English Muffins and Red Tart Cherry fruit spread. As I write this, I am enjoying one of the Apple Orchard variety with cream cheese, and Kyle has stopped by to beg several bites. He is very lucky that I am infused with the Christmas spirit, as I would normally send him out into the streets to earn his supper by pickpocketing wealthy merchants.

Finally, I should mention that Laura received the HBO miniseries John Adams on DVD. ((She also received an iPod Nano, but for reasons I cannot begin to comprehend opted not to have me transfer the DVDs to the Nano rather than watch them on our television. I just don’t understand women.)) I should mention this because I believe she propped her eyes open a la Alex in A Clockwork Orange so that she could watch all 501 minutes before St. Nicholas parked his sizeable posterior in his La-Z-Boy to begin planning next year’s delivery route.

Merry Christmas to all.

Summer Movies: Hulking Dark Man-Boy Knights of Incredible Iron

Iron Man
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I have now seen all ((Oops! Forgot about Hancock, starring The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Sorry, Will!)) of this summer’s slate of superhero movies. I’ll do a more in-depth write up shortly, but for those wondering whether The Dark Knight managed to unseat Iron Man from the number one position on my list of the Top Superhero Movies of Forever and Ever, Amen, the short answer is no.

The slightly longer answer is: not by a long shot.

The Dark Knight is not a bad movie—I gave it a solid 7 out of 10 stars—but it’s note a great movie, either. I’ll be posting a full review in the next couple of days, so let’s get back to the list.

Though Iron Man remains safely (for now; Watchmen is coming and the trailer is absolutely stunning) in the top spot, the summer blockbusters have shaken things up a bit in the middle and lower ranks.

Without going into excruciating detail, here are The Ten Superhero Movies (Summer 2008 Edition):

  1. Iron Man
  2. Hellboy
  3. Batman Begins
  4. X2: X-Men United
  5. The Dark Knight
  6. X-Men
  7. Hellboy II: The Golden Army
  8. The Incredible Hulk
  9. The Incredibles
  10. Spider-Man

Something feels a bit off about the middle of this list; I may have to tweak it a bit once I’ve written reviews of The Dark Knight, The Incredible Hulk and Hellboy II: The Golden Army.

Top Ten Superhero Movies (Spring 2008 Edition)

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a blog! It’s an ordered list! It’s the Top Ten Superhero Movies as ranked by me!

Batman: The Movie (1966)10. Batman: The Movie (1966). The Dark Knight makes three separate appearances on this list and this is arguably the least dark of his incarnations; in fact, I’ve previously referred to the relative darkness of the Adam West version of Gotham’s nocturnal vigilante ((Actually, Adam West and Burt Ward do most of their crimefighting in broad daylight.)) as “a skim milk vanilla latté with a shot of raspberry syrup”. Batman: The Movie is classic, campy fun that still makes me chuckle, ((“Some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb!”)) but this movie proves that superheroes don’t have to be dark and gritty to be enjoyable.
Superman: The Movie (1978)

9. Superman: The Movie (1978). Superman movies trouble me. Christopher Reeve was a fantastic Man of Steel, ((Brandon Routh did a find job of imitating Christopher Reeve in Superman Returns, but that was just about the only thing worthwhile in the entire movie.)) but I’ve never really been a fan of the “funny” Lex Luthor. Why pit the most powerful man on the planet against a clown with delusions of grandeur? How about a villain who actually has a menacing presence on the screen? ((Sorry, Nuclear Man, you’re about as menacing as Gunther Gebel-Williams with a head cold.))

Most people I know would probably rank Superman II higher than the original, what with Terence Stamp and all that business about kneeling before Zod. In truth, the first two movies kind of blend together for me and I don’t really consider them separate entities.
Batman (1989)

8. Batman (1989). The first movie I ever stood in line for on opening day, Tim Burton’s Batman pretty much revived the superhero genre. Michael Keaton was surprisingly good in the dual role of Bruce Wayne/Batman, but it is Jack Nicholson who stole the show as the maniacal Joker. Unfortunately, this set a bad precedent for bringing in big-name actors to portray the villains and The Shumachery that followed damn near marched the genre off a cliff in a rubber-nippled batsuit.

Spider-Man (2002)

7. Spider-Man (2002). All hail Sam Raimi for bringing the web-slinger to the big screen! Now please, stop making superhero movies. Though Spider-Man 2 had a better villain and better action sequences, the overabundance of whining and preaching knocks it down several pegs in terms of sheer enjoyment. We will not speak of Spider-Man 3. Is that understood? We will not speak of it.

The Incredibles (2004)

6. The Incredibles (2004). Here’s a special beast: a well-made superhero movie that was not adapted from a comic book. Actually, The Incredibles has roots in a whole slew of comic books, especially Fantastic Four (the movie adaptation of which only wishes it could be The Incredibles). For sheer imaginitive use of superpowers, no movie has yet matched this one.

X-Men (2000)

5. X-Men (2000). In 1997, Joel Schumacher drove what I thought might be the final nail into the coffin of not only the Batman movie franchise, but into the entire superhero movie genre. Then along game Bryan Singer, Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart to revive it. Sure, Halle Berry, James Marsden and a bunch of other folks were along for the ride, but let’s face it, X-Men fans only cared about two things: getting Captain Jean-Luc Picard into Professor Xavier’s wheelchair and finding the right guy to wield Logan’s adamantium potato peelers. Ian McKellan as Magneto was icing on the cake. As for the other X-Mean…yeah, whatever, we got Patrick Stewart, baby!

Unfortunately, Bryan Singer went on to murderize Superman Returns while Brett Ratner came in to do the same to X-Men: The Last Stand.

X2: X-Men United (2003)4. X2: X-Men United (2003). Why does the sequel rank higher than the original? Two reasons: Brian Cox and BAMF! Brian Cox plays an excellent bad guy; the perfect antagonist to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. ‘Nuff said on that. Now on to the other thing: Nightcrawler’s teleportation attack on the White House was simply stunning. I spent the following five minutes trying to reattach my lower jaw and to this day I’m still not sure what happened immediately after that scene.
Batman Begins (2005)

3. Batman Begins (2005). Holy franchise resurrection, Batman! Director Christopher Nolan rolled the stone away from the tomb and we found that George Clooney was gone—replaced with the American Psycho himself, Christian Bale. The retelling of Bruce Wayne’s transformation into the Dark Knight Detective is the grittiest silver screen version of the Batman to date, and the Gotham-under-siege storyline lays a solid foundation for a resuscitated series.

Hellboy (2004)2. Hellboy (2004). How much do I love this movie? Let me put it this way: I wish I had not one but two wombs so I could have both Guillermo del Toro’s and Ron Perlman’s babies. That is all.
Iron Man (2008)

1. Iron Man (2008). The latest is, indeed, the greatest. Jon Favreau is clearly an Iron Man fan, because he got everything right: casting, story, special effects, pacing, beards; it’s all brilliant. Iron Man is the first movie I’ve seen in quite a while that had me wanting to stay in the theater and watch it again after the end credits had rolled. Speaking of end credits, if you haven’t seen Iron Man yet (and you should), be sure to stick around for an extra piece of geekery after they roll.

As the self-appointed Arbiter of Superhero Movie Worthiness, I declare that this list is truth absolute ((Until my whim changes and I update it.)) and its accuracy is above question. However, if you should wish to offer your opinions on the topic—whether they rightly align with my own or not—you are encouraged to do so in the comments.

Moviestuff: Where’s the Spidey 3 Review?

I haven’t seen Spider-Man 3, yet. I could have gone on opening weekend, but I didn’t; I could probably find some time this weekend, but chances are I won’t. I’ll see it in the theater, but I’m clearly not rushing out, which — given my love of all things superheroic — is incredibly unusual.

So where’s the excitement about Spider-Man 3? I’m pretty sure it was snuffed out by Spider-Man 2.

See, I really enjoyed Spider-Man; it wasn’t perfect, but as superhero movies go it was pretty darn close. Then Spider-Man 2 was released. It had amazing action sequences and I loved the way Doctor Octopus was brought to the big screen, but — as I wrote in my 2004 review — the little annoying things I didn’t like about the first movie were amplified tenfold.

I own Spider-Man 2 on DVD, but I’ve never watched it. I watched a lot of the special features, but I haven’t sat down and watched the movie from beginning to end again. I know there’s a lot of really cool stuff in it, but I don’t want to sit through the syrupy melodrama to get to it. I suppose I could fast-forward through all the angst and preaching, but that feels like cheating somehow.

So I’m not in a big hurry to see Spider-Man 3, because somewhere along the line Sam Raimi decided that along with the proportional speed, strength and agility of a spider, Peter Parker also has the proportional melodrama of a daytime soap opera.