My Struggle to Like Batman V. Superman

Look up in the sky! Is it a bird? No, it is spoilers!

Mr. BatmanI’ve always considered myself a DC guy.

While I appreciate Marvel and enjoy the movie empire of it (especially the Captain America films), my heart belongs with the 52 worlds of DC Comics. One of my dreams has always been to write a Captain Marvel film, for example. Granted, I know that will not happen (they are planning to make a film soon and, sadly, no one called me).

I remember the thrill of seeing Christopher Reeve fly. I saw Michael Keaton’s Batman three times in the theater. And I remember loving the Super Friends each Saturday morning. I still watch the DVDs with my kids!   

Yet, as I sat there watching the latest DC film, it felt just off for me. Something was off the rails. It was as if the heart and joy of what I loved about DC was gone, replaced with a brute and hopeless vision of our world. This is a film that begins with imagery that feels like 9/11 and there is little humor in a world still living in terror. Maybe for the writer and director there is a deeper meaning in doing this with beloved characters, but for me it just left me feeling… removed. Maybe a better explanation is stranded, left behind by a comic book universe I felt very at home in. 

Here are my four biggest gripes with this new film. I don’t know if it will change anything by me saying this in the big scheme of things, but I am certain I will feel better after. Much like a therapy session, I guess. So here we go… You, dear reader, are my psychologist. Sit back as I lay down my problems with the winged bat and the big boy scout’s latest film. Continue reading

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Five Things I Am Into Right Now, April 2015

kids-bike-16-inchYesterday, I got to have one of those dad moments. It is so cliche, it could be used in a TV commercial (and probably has been), but there is a reason for it. It is a great feeling.

I got to teach my son how to ride a bike.

We went to our local park that has a smooth cement trail around it. After a few falls and nervousness, he was up and going, and there I was huffing and puffing to try and keep up.

Yeah, I could go on about the symbolism of the kid finally being able to race away from the dad, leaving the early years behind, but I’m not in that frame of mind. If anything this has opened a whole new world of possibility for us. I look forward to taking him on different trails in our area, finding new bike paths to explore. In other words, my summer just got a lot more interesting.

What is also interesting is that most of what I mention below is all done while sitting down. My Fitbit would probably be disappointed by my list this month, actually. But I listen to it enough, so I think it is all fine. Continue reading

The Conundrum of Men in Capes

Even Superman writes!Superman was always my favorite superhero. There was always a lost operatic elegance to his story in my opinion. Yes, he saves cats from trees and helps old ladies cross the street, but he is alone among us. One of us, and yet not really one of us. A lost relic of another world, another time.

One of my favorite character debates comes around Superman. See, I love breaking down what makes a character or a story work, and here is the one I always like to throw at writers, is Superman pretending to be Clark Kent or is Clark Kent pretending to be Superman.

I love that!

See, Christopher Reeve had Superman be the real person and Clark Kent the performance, but more recently, TV shows like Smallville and Lois and Clark had it the other way around. What does that mean really? Everything to the character, little to us in the real world, of course. Our boring and drab reality where men don’t fly, and magic and superpowers only survive in our imaginations.

I’ve been thinking a lot about superheroes over the last few years. Mostly that is because of my son. The one nearby me as I write this, wearing Justice League PJs, Star Wars slippers, and holding a Superman toy from the film Man of Steel. He is five.  Continue reading

Film Review: The Dark Knight Rises

I have a new film review up at Green Spot Blue.  This time it is for The Dark Knight Rises, the third installment in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy.

Here is a snippet from the beginning of the review:

The Dark Knight Rises is not for the faint of heart.

It is cruel, it is relentless, and it is harsh. The harshness of the film seems to seep into every scene of the film.

The camera angles are tight, making you feel like you are always in a close and cramped space; the music is aggressive, driving and primal (I can’t imagine anyone listening to this music for pleasure); and there are very few light moments in the entire film. Even the interactions between Batman and Alfred are terse (and usually their relationship was the sunnier moments in the early films).

My first reaction upon leaving the theater is that I am surprised that this is only PG-13, seriously who was bribed to keep this at PG-13? Did the production company really think kids would want to buy toys after watching this film? That is a pipedream, in my opinion. In any other decade it would have probably been R. There is a lot of death, destruction and outright viciousness in this film. I can’t even imagine letting my son (who loves Batman) see this until he is at least 14, maybe 15 or 16. This is a Gotham City without hope and without Batman; a peaceful world created out of a lie, a timebomb.

You can read the rest of my the review here at Green Spot Blue.

Seriously Bruce?!: Taking on the Logic of Becoming a Batman

Growing up, Batman was always my favorite superhero.

Why was I always drawn more to Batman?

Well, frankly, because under the right circumstances I could have been Batman. But that is true not just for me; you could have been Batman. We all could have been Batman!  (The same can’t be said for Superman or the Flash sadly.)

All we just need is a heck of a lot of money and a devastating experience in one’s childhood and we are in that dark cape… Sadly, for me, my parents are perfectly healthy and I am not rich.

Of course, this is the logic of a kid discovering a comic book at the age of eight, it is not the logic of a sane adult. I mean, we adults, when considering becoming a masked vigilante, would think about the police, fingerprints, what if we get shot, what kind of training, how do we buy supplies, how do we get medical attention…. The list goes on and on when an adult tries to consider this employment opportunity. In the long run, it does not feel like the best option or more people would be doing it, besides the random “unique” individuals we see on television roaming our streets. Continue reading

Joss Whedon: Our Outsider Makes Good

I became a fan of Joss Whedon around the sixth season of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. I’m sure that honest admission at the start might already turn off some readers, but let me add that after getting hooked I bought all of the boxsets of the other seasons and used them to help draw in others, while using all of my skills at peer pressure and bribery (and sometimes even blackmail).

I was living in LA at the time, studying writing at the University of Southern California, and I was startled by the news story that his show was able to jump stations. Now, I remembered the movie and couldn’t believe that this was the same thing we were talking about. That idea? Really? All I remembered about the film was that it starred PeeWee Herman. Yet, the idea, and the accomplishment of such a TV production feat impressed me and led to me turning on the show and giving it a shot.

That old blind Scott feels like a very different person from the Scott writing this. I want to shake my head in annoyance at him, throw something at him or even bitch slap him. In the least, there should be some ridicule and taunts. Continue reading

Talking About Some Deaths in Literature

Death is kind of on my mind a lot recently. My grandfather (who I wrote about here), died on February 9 and the loss of him and how it has impacted my every day thoughts had really made me think about death in relation to a lot of things around me. In my author-esq head, it’s not surprising that literature found its way into the mental ramblings (or should we just be honest and call them distractions from reality?).

It seems many times we don’t take “dead” very seriously in literature. Unless it is gruesome (Hi, George R.R. Martin!), or the other characters are seriously changed because of it for the worse (Seriously, why did Little Nell have to snuff it?), many times it seems to float past us as a plot device. Is it because we have a long history of people returning to life in books so it doesn’t feel as final? (Aslan, Gandalf, every comic book character, and most religious stories, etc.) The corpse is rarely there in a story, unless it has just happened; that could be part of it as well.

Death in writing is a plot device. It is a tool both sharp as a knife and as a blunt as a sledgehammer.  We cheer when bad guys die. We look at a death sacrifice as heroic, not thinking of the final end that just happened to a character.

Is it simply because we don’t see characters as “human?” So maybe it is more a fault of us writers that a readers feels, or doesn’t feel, the loss. There might be something to it. I wrote a book, MEGAN, that is built around a death and I tried to show a character from being told of the death of another with all the initial stages of acceptance over the course of a day. Hmmm… Probably why the work isn’t as popular on amazon.com than my time-traveling adventure, My Problem With Doors. So clearly, death is not a selling point.

There is a lesson there  I learned that you will not need to now. You can thank me later.

Sometimes a death can slip right by, almost as an afterthought. My favorite example of this is the first Harry Potter book. One thing I love to point out to people is that Harry Potter begins with a double homicide. Yes, we see the scene later in the series (We get a little description in the first book, just a taste). And while JK Rowling does her best to take a light approach to that first chapter (Vernon in all his heavy-set foolishness), it doesn’t change the fact the story really started the evening before when Voldemort went into the home of the Potters and slaughtered them gleefully. Continue reading

One of My Favorite Finds of Last Year: Graphic Audio’s DC Titles

I have a new review up on GreenSpotBlue today.  This one is a find I am really excited about, as you will see from my review. In many ways, Graphic Audio are bringing life to an artform I thought was dead and that is, in my humble opinion, awesome.  Here is the beginning of my review:

This may sound like the beginning of a bad country song, but when I found Graphic Audio, I was not looking for love just a way to pass the time.

See, in 2011, my daughter was born and after the experience of her older brother I knew I needed something to help keep me awake and focused during late night feedings… or even afternoon feedings (something about holding a sleeping baby that knocks me out every time). Continue reading

10 Best Superhero Films

A new film editorial is up at Green Spot Blue! It is on superhero films, so grab a towel, make a homemade cape with a pin and enjoy. 

Here is the introduction to the article:

I have never drunk the kool-aid, but I have sipped it.

That is my experience with comic books.

I did some occasional collecting when I was 12; and from time to time may read a graphic novel. Oh, I can do pretty well on some trivial pursuit questions when they come up, but I am no avid fan and I admit it. What I do love about superheroes and comic books is the mythology and when I am around my friends who are more in tune with that “world,” I will usually ask a hundred questions, trying to discover the new imaginative twists and turns (good and bad) the characters have taken. (Did you know they had zombie superheroes a few years ago!?)

The thing is that now I have a toddler; a toddler with a Superman picture on his wall, Batman bed sheets, and a Flash T-shirt. While he can not see any of these movies until he is much older, I am going to put my film critic hat on and share my opinion on this still evolving meeting of the artforms.

You can read the rest of the article (and my list) here- http://www.greenspotblue.com/world/2011/8/12/movies-10-best-superhero-films.html