If nothing else, we can thank Tim Burton‘s 1989 film for the explosion of the Bat-franchise. Even if you hate the flick (and I understand there are some that do), we all owe it something. Without it, we don’t get the brilliant animated series that kept much of its tone (and Danny Elfman‘s glorious score), we don’t get nearly as many Batman action figures and t-shirts. Sure, someone would have made a Batman film eventually, even if this one never got off the ground. But it did, and thus it’s the launch pad not just for the Batman franchise, but for the modern age of superhero cinema.
Profile: Matthew Jackson is a writer, editor, blogger, critic, Batman worshipper, renegade Jedi, post-apocalyptic gunslinger, cyber shaman, imaginary sorcerer, mind harvester, sex god and general heathen. He was probably going to be all right until someone explained to him what a lightsaber was and he went off the deep end in about 1988. His interests include time travel, comics, obscure pulp literature, black t-shirts, Vincent Price impressions, cursing, jokes about Jesus, Warren Ellis’ glorious beard, nefarious plots, swords, Nazi occultism, bacon, really good Scotch and intergalactic bounty hunting. No, but seriously, he really is a professional writer with credentials and everything. You can read more of his film and book reviews at his private blog, A Walrus Darkly (awalrusdarkly.blogspot.com). He lives in Texas with a wonderful woman who puts up with a lot.
We’ll never really get over the stigma that comes with Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, even if we want to. This is the guy who tied the record for Oscars in a single night with The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, so he’s obviously got a very high bar to clear. This is the guy who made Middle-earth real in our cinematic minds. This is the guy who managed to film an unfilmable story. So, how are we supposed to expect him to live up to that? There are a number of answers for this, ranging from optimistic to downright hostile, but mine is simple: we’re not. Where The Lord of the Rings was a fantasy adventure wrapped in a world-in-the-balance epic, The Hobbit is adventure in its purest form. Jackson’s embracing that, and though he’s trying too hard to give his latest cinematic saga weight, we can still glean a lot of fun from the Hobbit franchise even without the connections to its big brother, and the latest installment, The Desolation of Smaug, definitely proves that.
Ah, it’s the holidays, the season for a great number of excessive activities. This is the time of year when I drink excessively, eat excessively (you know, more than usual), shop excessively, burn electricity excessively (my Christmas light setup is a bit extravagant), watch holiday themed specials excessively and commit any number of other very excessive acts of fun and festivity. All of that makes me think, though, usually right around this time, that it would also be a good idea to give excessively, and not just to my family and friends. For me, charity is an important part of the holiday season, and while there are any number of very worthy charity options no matter where you live (children’s toy drives, homeless shelters, food banks, etc.), it’s always nice when you can add a somewhat nerdy spin to your charitable donations. That’s why I’m so happy that Worldbuilders, a charity founded by bestselling The Kingkiller Chronicle author Patrick Rothfuss (the bearded gentleman up there holding that adorable creature), exists.
Here’s a moviegoing experience almost all of us have had: A friend comes up to you and says “Oh wow, dude, you’ve got to see [insert title here]. It’s more than just a movie. It’s an experience. I couldn’t believe how much it made me feel. Seriously, don’t miss this movie. It’s so amazing.” Then you go see the movie, and even if you come away liking it, you feel like your friend oversold it. It wasn’t an experience at all. It was just a really entertaining movie. There’s nothing wrong with that, but the point is that actual experiences at the movies are few and far between these days. We’ve been jaded by years of CGI and Michael Bay bombast, so we’re always inherently skeptical of those movies that are supposed to make us forget we’re watching a movie and leave us to actually feel what’s going on. It’s OK to be skeptical. Really it is. But I”m here to tell you, this time we really have been given a true cinematic experience. Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity is, quite simply, one of the most stunning cinematic achievements you will ever see, and it achieves this by not just dazzling you visually, but by giving you an incredibly intimate look at a simple fight for survival in one of the most hostile environments imaginable: space.
In a world gone bad, sometimes, good men die hard. This is the story of a brilliant physicist, popcorn Christmas tree string, a hooker… WHO CAN SING!, and 18 cursed gold coins that may hold the key to the ultimate boner cure. This is Ask the Bastards, and we have finally returned to wreak more undeserved havoc on your browser window. That’s right. For the first time in nearly a year, we’re back to answer more of your nerdy questions, and we’ll keep doing it twice a month for as long as you keep asking them.
For those of you who’ve never done this before, it works like this: Every time we’re getting ready to launch an Ask the Bastards installment, we’ll send out the call for questions on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure you’re following us at both of those places, then wait for your time to shine and ask any nerdy question you’d like of us. We”ll do the rest. And if you’re curious what we’ve answered before, you can browse the Ask the Bastards archive HERE.
Now, on to this week’s questions…
I’m one of those people who’s been convinced for about a year that Pacific Rim was always going to be the biggest dose of awesome we could possibly get at the movies this summer. How could it not be? It’s Guillermo del Toro’s dream movie, a giant monster epic that combines some of the best of Eastern and Western cinematic action sensibilities into one huge machine, with a compelling cast and trailers that just. would. not. quit. I had faith in Guillermo del Toro, I had faith in Idris Elba, I had faith in all those beautiful visuals leaked out to us over the last few months. I was convinced this movie was always going to be not just good, but positively brilliant action cinema.
Well…that was weird. Reading the ending of an event book like this is always a bit of a dual experience. On the one hand, you’re trying to see how all the ends of this story tie up, how it satisfies (or fails to satisfy) your needs as a reader who’s followed this thing for 10 issues, how it serves the overall story with a strong conclusion. But we’re talking about comics, so that’s never all this is about. No, last issues (or last acts, for that matter) can never be just about endings. There’s always the next event, the next relaunch, the next incarnation of a decades-old universe. Both of these elements can be exciting when you read a final issue. They can simultaneously wrap up a story that engrossed you and point the way to new and fascinating chapters. Unfortunately for us, after going through a lot of trouble to get us to a very specific place with issues eight and nine, Age of Ultron #10 seems to be all about what’s next.
We have arrived at that special moment, kids. It’s Man of Steel Release Day, which also means it’s The Whole Internet Argues About Whether or Not Man of Steel is Good Day. So, in the spirit of promoting arguments as part of our secret plot to make all of you hate each other, we’ve created this space where our readers can discuss any and every aspect of Man of Steel that they’d like. So if you haven’t seen the flick, turn back now, because this is the Nerd Bastards Man of Steel SPOILER ZONE (imagine Michael Shannon screaming that).
Before we get to the meat of this film, we need to talk about Superman for a minute. Let’s not shout at each other. Let’s not hurl comic book trades across the room like animals. Let’s all just take a deep breath and talk about the Big Blue Boy Scout for a second, because there’s something I think we all need to come to terms with. I thought about it a lot in the lead-up to seeing Man of Steel, and I’ve thought about it even more in the day or so since I left the theater. I thought about it more because I enjoyed this movie quite a bit. There were a lot of things I liked, and a scant few things I outright loved. I think this is a good movie, but before I explain why, I have to say this, not because I’m trying to get you to cut Zack Snyder some slack or because I’m trying to get you to change your minds about things, but because it’s a conclusion I’ve come to after years of watching and waiting: I don’t think the idea we all have in our heads of a “great” Superman movie will ever really exist.
There’s a pattern to Game of Thrones seasons. If you hadn’t noticed by now, it works like this: the season premiere reminds us of what we’ve seen and prepares us for what’s to come, the next seven episodes set up the climax, the ninth episode climaxes, and the tenth episode resolves some of what the current season has to offer and sets up some of what we’ll see next year. This formula has given us some of the best and most shocking episodes of the series (“Baelor” was the ninth episode of season one, “Blackwater” was the ninth episode of season two and “The Rains of Castamere” was the ninth episode of season three, and I’d be among the first to argue that those are the three best episodes the show has delivered thus far), but it has often meant that we’ve spent the season finale wondering not “What will happen in this episode?” but “What will happen next season?” With “Mhysa,” we get an episode solid enough to make us think about both.