Too May

Thinking about Spider-Man. Thinking about Marisa Tomei. In my life, it's safe to assume that I've historically done more of the former than I have of the latter, but here we are.

Anyway, Ms Marisa's version of Aunt May did seem far younger than most other depictions, and even the comparatively youthful Ultimate version had a decade or two on Lady Tomei.

But now I'm wondering if some of this could just be rooted in timing. At inception, Peter Parker was 15 in the early 60s, and May was supposed to be his elderly aunt. Not his grandmother. Or his grandmother's sister. Or his grandmother's aunt. But still she undeniably had the mien of the oldest of crones.

But her years might not have been of a kind with Marisa's years. Aunt May's generation had the Great Depression and cigarette commercials. Marisa's had freely available produce and moisturiser. Maybe May's always been around the same age. Perhaps it's as Indy once said.

Bonus Question! 

Tag team! Aunt May and Uncle Ben versus Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben! 

Ben Parker falls first because that's kind of his thing, but that just spurs May on to victory. Though maple syrup on rice could be delicious, the Parkers get the win over the food mascots.

Emoji Party

I heard a lot of bad things about "The Emoji Movie". But when do I pay attention to such things? I had to see Sir Patrick Stewart play a fecal coil. But it was alright. Almost like "Baby Tron". Or a mix of a better "Sausage Party" and a worse "Wreck-It Ralph". No one really seemed to be that irate about "Sausage Party", and while "The Emoji Movie" didn't have a prestigious creator like Seth Rogen behind it, it did seem to have some more meat at its core. It also had T.J. Miller's implication that he quit one of the most acclaimed comedies on television to be in it.


But yeah. Ultimately, if you ever wanted a spinoff about the background characters from "Reboot", this should dribble some moisture on that thirst.


Bonus Question!


Most appropriate "Silicon Valley" alumnus to play the Meh emoji if the movie hadn't been about being ill suited for that job?


Thomas Middleditch.

Just look at the dude.

Just look at the dude.

LucTales

Maybe the impending release of the new "DuckTales" television show has just put Huey, Dewie, and Louie on the brain, but as I was watching these guys in "Valerian", I kept imagining that they were gargoyle cousins of old McDuck's mischievous wards.

Or hey. They're in space. What other irreverent avian was recently spotted in those parts? How about Howard T. Duck? He was stuck in the Collector's interstellar menagerie for a while. There are limited ways to kill time in a situation like that, and at least one of them could probably result in progeny of this kind. Did I solve a mystery? Who knows? It's a duck blur. But this is bold deduction, and I've heard that that never fails. That's for certain.

 

Bonus Question!

Didn't those two tourists in the bazaar look like inelegantly retired versions of Bruce Willis and Leelu Multipass?

Another Pass

I remember being prompted to see "Three Days to Kill" by the winter movie doldrums of early 2014. I was pushed further in that direction by the involvement of Luc Besson, whom I adored for "The Fifth Element". The movie was alright, but it didn't really have any commonality with "Element". No big surprise. It did seem to bear resemblance to "Taken", but I never saw that thing, and the accuracy of that supposition is thus dubious.

 

But this season sees the release of Luc's film "Valerian", based on a comic that helped to inspire "The Fifth Element" in the first place. Hey, 2014 Jaymes! It's a thing you wanted!

 

I was going to end it there, but I'm coming back because I just glanced at Besson's filmography and realised that he was involved with the "Taken" franchise. But just before I noticed that, I saw that he also worked on "From Paris with Love", and I had great fun with that one. Dude knows how to make a buddy cop adventure. And cast?

 

Bonus Question!

 

2014 Jaymes versus 2017 Jaymes!

 

Dude. We're the same person.

 

But I will say that this Jaymes is something child Jaymes would have wanted to be. I won't really be talking about other Jameses.

 

But they would have wanted to be this Jaymes too.

Timeless Knights

I went to see "Transformers" over its second weekend. I usually don't do such things so soon after release. For one thing, I've  no rush. There's generally a backlog. Additionally, the extra space after the end of the early rush is nice. But that wasn't even close to being an issue despite the movie's recency. In fairness, I went on  a Sunday evening, but the Monday was a holiday. Two dudes did come in around the last 20 minutes and sit in front of me, but it was still pretty sparse. One of them was gone for a fair half of that remaining time, and the other was talking on his phone for most of his companion's absence. No worries. I was using mine to read. Etiquette's only a thing when other people actually care.

Again I was surprised by a blockbuster's setting.

I thought that this was supposed to be a time travel thing? Oh, well. I probably missed some Arthurian opening by dint of my customary tardiness, but I liked what I saw of the robots' fight against the Nazis. As consoloation prized go, Autobot antics in the Second World War seem splendid. The other surprise? Apart from Tony Hopkins? The credits. Man! For a dude who inadvertently blows up computers in the process of rendering special effects, Michael Bay's crew seemed light. So short!

 

Bonus Question!

 

How's the Dark Knight doing? 

While I was reading the latest "Batman" issue, I'd forgotten that the entire arc was a flashback to the earlier days of the titular hero's tenure in Gotham. There was a heavy scene near the end wherein the sole surviving member of a mobster's staff looked like Penguin. The resemblance seemed too close to be practical in a book about Batman, but he was just hanging in the background. I shrugged and moved on. Then the killer addresses him directly and draws him into the plot. I thought, "What? They're not even going to reference the fact that this imminently important character has the total demeanor and silhouette of Oswald Cobblepot? He's just standing there, and there's not the merest mention of Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot?" I think that I even went on a quick Google search about the comuc. Then I remembered that it was a flashback story. In fairness, the flashback did begin in a previous issue. But yeah. Time's tricky.

 

 

The Quippy Thwipster

A new Spider-Man movie is on the scene, which makes it a natural time to think about the old ones. Personally, Andrew Garfield embodied much of what I like about the character, and the direction at least allowed him to display more of Spidey's trademark humour in combat than I saw in the Raimi films. He's the Quippy Thwipster! You can't have one without the other! You need both, guys! You need both.

 

I don't have a huge issue with Tobey, but he is on the dour side, and while his voice work in films like "Cats and Dogs" and "Boss Baby" ably demonstrates that he can be quite expressive vocally, I find that his face just isn't naturally emotive. And for a superhero, he doesn't actually spend enough time in a mask for that to be unnoticeable.

 

I'm sure that depressive Spidey is the iconic version to many, as brooding Batman is to hordes of people who've grown up since the 70s. I won't deny that there is a sadness at the core of Peter Parker, but I've preferred its more neurotic interpretations. The Spider-Man who related to me was closer to a bratty Woody Allen than he was to Willy Loman.

 

Speaking of Batman, I relished  Harry Osborn's development over the Raimi trilogy. By the end, he seemed from his perspective like a hero in the Bruce Wayne tradition. He thinks that Spider-Man's the monster who took his father's life, and he takes up a mask and gadgets to get his vengeance. He even had the patiently affectionate old butler! Harry just happened to be wrong.

 

Honestly, I cherished the cast of those movies. If you switched in Garfield for Maguire, it's basically perfect. And that has to be at least a part of the reason for my inability to find significant fault with the movies Garfield starred in. You gave me the Spider-Man I recognised. You gave me the most important part. But honestly, much of the rest of those seemed enjoyable to me too. Emma Stone? For instance? As Kirsten Dunst did before her, she played an unconventional but interesting version of a classic Spidey girl.

 

And then there's Jamie Foxx's Electro, who's clearly been taking classes at the Notice Me, Senpai School of Villainy, a venerable institution that includes among its alumni the Jim Carrey Riddler and the Guy Pearce Mandarin. The Topher Grace Venom applied, but he was denied for excessive cologne use. It's a bit of a shame. He would have been at the top of his class in Imitating the Envied Hero 101.

 

And Paul Giamatti? Mwah! As the Rhino? Double mwah!

And I just realised that it follows in the tradition of ending a set of Spider-Man movies by giving a bad guy role to a lead from "Sideways".

 

Bonus Question!

 

Brattiest Woody Allen?

 

Owen Wilson.

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Electricity is clearly the better way to wake up. 

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Tangled Up in Cruise

 

I recall being somewhat surprised by the time period wherein the Brendan Fraser "Mummy" movie was set when I first saw it. I'd been expecting modernity. But then I didn't expect this new one to be set in the present day. I was also ignorant of the inclusion of that dude from "New Girl". Especially because he seems like an actor who could work really well in a period piece?

It was a fine piece of cinema, though. But I thought the same about "Dracula Untold", which was supposed to kick off the same Dark Universe of monster movies that "The Mummy" now begins. Why were the bad reviews enough to stop those plans for Drac but ineffective at preventing the same ones from being enacted by "The Mummy"? Is it because of Tom Cruise? Hm. That's actually seeming quite plausible.

Incidentally, I saw the newest "Pirates of the Caribbean" film in the week before "The Mummy", and Ahmanet's aesthetic reminded me greatly of Calypso from "At World's End". It works in its way. She's the desert version of an ocean god.

But if Tatooine has taught us anything, sometimes those two locations aren't so different. Sometimes you just want to take your skiff out on the sands and surf the great Dune Sea. Living large on a pleasure barge!

 

Bonus Question!

How's the new Jean Grey comic?

I just read the third issue, and I felt inspired to share some thoughts to the tune of New Edition's "Candy Girl".

Marauding Gods

Of all the Marauders to play the god of war, I would have first jumped to Padfoot Oldman. He's not Jim Gordon anymore. There's room for him in DC films again.


But on further consideration, this isn't exactly without precedent for David Thewlis. His Professor Lupin was a mild old gentleman who habitually transformed into a demonic force of reckless destruction. Same here. In "Wonder Woman", he's just traded in his pelage for some armour. Both are valid aesthetic choices.


Bonus Question!


Ares versus Fenris Greyback, lycanthropic Death Eater!


One's a god who's basically a werewolf on the verge of being a Nazi. The other's a werewolf who's basically a Nazi named after a god. It'd be savage, but I'd probably have to give the victory to the actual god.

Cell Shading

 

I had this friend in elementary school who had four prominent interests that stick out in my mind. The first was for Marvel comics, which was one I naturally shared. Another was judo, and he did his best to try to get me into it too. It was enough to get me to stop karate and try his dojo, but that was really more of a social decision, for the aspects this martial art emphasised didn't excite me that much. Grabbing specific parts of a gi felt less natural than the jabs and chops of karate.

 

The other two interests were for computers and "Dragon Ball", and he taught me much about both. There was some overlap in this knowledge, which notably manifested in the downloading of emulators to my computer for the primary purpose of playing old Super Nintendo "Dragon Ball Z" fighting games.

 

In recent years, I've made separate reconnections with the friend and the cartoon, and the latter prompted me

to look at more recent entries of the franchise on modern consoles. Aesthetically, they're unimpeachable, but the nominally fitting focus on the Z axis made the mechanics of the film feel somewhat unfocused to me in comparison to the classical style of its predecessors, which were closer in feel to "Street Fighter".

 

But the newly announced "FighterZ" appears to return to that venerable formula for the first time in years, and even the art evokes those games my friend illicitly downloaded to my computer around the millennium's turn. There are many video games that appeal to me on various levels, and I actually play few of them, but I've made a  note of this one. I barely touched the last "Dragon Ball" game I bought, which means that a purchase of this new one can at worst only be a lesser waste.

 

Bonus Question!

 

Right time for fighting in the street, boy?

 

Summer.

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Doctor Depp

This past year saw the release of the first entry in a series of cinematic adaptations of a single small supplement to the Harry Potter franchise by the name of "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them". Quite good. It added a tinge of "Doctor Who" flair to the mythos. And a bit of Johnny Depp, who must be near the top of a nonexistent list of American actors who could play the Doctor. Oh! And that guy from that table tennis version of "Mortal Kombat". Love that guy. He's not on the Doctor list. He just had a fun role in "Fantastic Beasts".


And now they're doing a Voldemort origin film, which isn't unwelcome either. But I must wonder. The original "Beasts" book was actually one of a pair of supplements. When will that other half be adapted? When are we getting  our "Quidditch Through the Ages" movie?


Come on. I'd be excited for that right now, and I've never really cared for sports movies. I can't even sit through "Rudy". But if you throw in some flying broomsticks and add a Snitch to the situation, you've got my attention.


Bonus Question!


Is anyone curious about the fact that J. Jonah Jameson, the Daily Bugle chief known for his legendary antipathy towards the Spider-Man, picked the newspaper name that has the word "bug" in it?

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Where's Bingo?

The movie that serves as a sequel to "Unbreakable" and "Split" is  not being called "Unsplittable"? How?

 

I don't know. "Glass" is appropriate, but this just seems like a missed opportunity.

 

I flipped through the new Gorillaz album. "We Got the Power" was alright. "The Fall" didn't even have anything on that level for me. But the first shall always be among my gems, and the third gave me all sorts of lovely surprises. But their whole thing is reinvention, which doesn't always do much for peole who liked the previous invention. It's like leaving Ziggy behind for a trip to Berlin. Some people are naturally going to pine for the dead space god and ignore the dignified old dude in the understated suit.

 

Bonus Question!

 

Best split?

Banana.

 

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Thrones of Moon and Bolt

I was reading Saladin Ahmed's new "Black Bolt" comic, and I found it to be rather eloquent. I glanced at the author's notes at the  back, and I saw that Mr Ahmed made a brief reference to a novel he'd written. He didn't name it or say anything about it. He basically just said that a novel was featured on his resume. Still, as I was open to experiencing more by the guy, I was intrigued enough to seek out some information. The novel in question turned out to be "Throne of the Crescent Moon", a sort of Mesopotamian fantasy in the thematic tradition of Fritz Lieber against a distinctly desertic backdrop. I noticed that a sequel was due in 2017, which hastened me to get a start on it before I fell behind. The gap seemed somewhat large, but apparently this was attributed to personal issues that prevented significant work on the sequel for a while. But the delay was just long enough for me to find out about the series and get in on the ground floor, and it seems reasonable to expect that subsequent entries could be released more rapidly. Total score.

 

And I doubt that I'd mind more comics from the dude either. I believe that "Bolt" is his first. In any medium, the guy's character work is vivid.

 

Bonus Question!

 

Best bolt?

Thunder!

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A Reboot Anomaly

 

I've started watching a bit of "Penny Dreadful". Right now, it feels like a smurry mash of many of things I liked about "Moulin Rouge!" and the filmic version of "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". Incidentally, I've heard that the latter lacks many of the things other people liked about its comic book source. I came to the comic later, and it was particularly good in its earlier iterations, but I still think  that the movie was really made to show me most of what I wanted to see.

 

Oh. And the 2004 "Van Helsing" movie. This show feels like that too. Which I also liked! But again. I don't seem to be in the majority on this. I heard about plans to remake that with Tom Cruise in the lead role? Which they're also doing with "The Mummy". That just seems mildly odd to me. Usually, remakes are made with younger stars in their ascendant stages. Instead, Brendan Fraser and Hugh Jackman are being replaced by a dude who was already on top before they'd even started on the ladder. And he's never really stopped being bigger than they are. No discredit to those dudes. I love the guys. "George of the Jungle" was an early jam for me. "Journey to the Center of the Earth" was fantastic, and while its loose sequels are fine in their own rights, I wouldn't mind seeing the Bren come back like Big Vinny in the renaissant films of the "XXX" and "Fast and Furious" franchises. Just put that dude in more stuff.

 

But yeah. Tom Cruise. Dude has not stopped being a draw.

 

Bonus Question!

 

If they rebooted a Tom Cruise movie and put Tom Cruise back in his role, what would it be?

 

"Interview with a Vampire" comes instantly to mind for some reason. But also maybe "Legend"? With Jemaine Clement. Because Tim Curry's got to keep moving.

 

Unless maybe they make another "Wild Thornberrys" movie. I could imagine him putting in a few hours on a microphone to revisit that.

Rocky Stardust

I kept thinking about "Rocky Horror" while I was watching the new "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie. I couldn't stop imagining that the gold guys were this staid, repressive culture from which the Transylvanians exiled themselves. They immigrated to Earth because its primitive nature didn't present any impediment to their hedonism. The gold dudes also make Adam Warlock at the end, and he's almost like a cosmic Rocky. With a touch of Ziggy Stardust. Rocky Stardust. Anyway, that's where my head went. Following from that, the Ravagers looked like regular attendees of the "Rocky Horror" stage show. Is that still a thing? Of course. Why wouldn't it be?


I remember being shown "Starman" by my mother as a young child. "Guardians" prompted her to reminisce on her youthful infatuation with a young Kurt Russell, which made me wonder if that's what led her to bring "Starman" to me. But she didn't remember it. And then I discovered that Jeff Bridges was in "Starman" instead of Kurt Russell. But my hazy recollection of that movie makes it seem like a loose sort of spiritual prequel to the story of Star-Lord. Mystical alien dude comes down to Earth with hair for the 80s and shares his love and his seed with a local lady. Boom! That's how Peter Quills are made.


But I still don't know why my mother showed me "Starman".


Bonus Question!


Best ship?


Best ship? The one that looked like the Heart of Gold. Although the Milano is basically a B-2 stealth bomber with a garish paint job instead of stealth, which actually makes it sound like a better choice as I say this.

Fury of the Fateful

I was almost deterred from seeing "Fate of the Furious" by reports, apparently hailing from the Internet Movie Database, that claimed a run time in the area of three hours. I tend to get restless around the second third of that, and a fun popcorn movie would wane in efficacy for me with that bloat. But no. I think that it's actually shorter than the first one. Restraint? That seems uncharacteristic of the franchise. Tightness. That's more on brand.


Also, before I learned of the true length, I heard that Helen Mirren was in it. Which is lovely. Obviously. Whatever. But she actually campaigned to be in it. And maybe they actually brought everyone back to add her in or something? I don't really know. But her passion drew my interest, and  by the time I discovered the movie's real size, I was already swaying back around.


But I've heard similar claims about the length of the Justice League film. What gives, IMDB? Why are you trying to talk me out of seeing these crazed gigantic action movies I cherish so? Cease this subtle calumny. At least when your criticisms are based on taste, I know that they don't apply to me.


Bonus Question!


So? How was she?


Dame Helen delivers, dude. A drastic departure that deserves a look from her devotees. It'd be worth the ticket even if the movie weren't. But it is. Which basically means that you're getting in to "Fate" at half price.

Spiders, Dogs, and Babies

 "The Boss Baby" really reminded me of "Cats and Dogs". With babies instead of cats. And they weren't really trying to win humanity's favour over canines in order to take over the world. I think that the main motivation here was pie?

 

And then I remembered that that film also saw a Tobey Maguire character team up with Alec Baldwin. This realisation also codified something in my mind about Tobey. There'd been a part of me that thought that he was slightly dour for the Peter Parker role, but listening to his voice acting in these films belies that. It actually sounds quite close to what one might expect from Spidey. It's just his face. It doesn't really seem to emote well. Like . . . If you just met him at a party or something, it's a quality you might notice. In an actor, it's fairly aberrant. In fairness, it probably works for some roles. He might even age into it. Christopher Walken's career seems to be predominantly built on a similar idiosyncrasy. It just doesn't really fit Spider-Man. Especially a Spider-Man who keeps exposing his face for various reasons.

 

Bonus question! 

Best reason to expose the face? 

Inverse rain kiss! 

 

Also lunch. 

 

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Thrawwwwwn!

So . . . I've just started the new "Thrawn" book. You know the one. The one by Timothy Zahn. You know the guy. The guy who popularised the expanded universe of "Star Wars" in the early Nineties with a trio of books that came to be called the Thrawn Trilogy. When people complained about the disposal of all "Star Wars" spinoff media that preceded Disney's acquisition, they were mostly thinking about the Zahn stuff. And lo! Thrawn turned out to be one of the high points of the old universe that got inducted into the tighter Disney version, making his new debut on the "Rebels" cartoon.


But now there's this book. No hiding the intent. In the original series that came to be named after him, he was still just the antagonist. Despite his popularity, he wasn't even given a viewpoint. He was only seen through the eyes of other characters. But in this book, officially called "Thrawn", he actually gets to narrate bits by himself, which isn't even traditional for "Star Wars" novels. I think that "I, Jedi", an older book, was actually called that because it broke the norm by featuring first-person narration.


But the best aspect I've encountered at this point is the fact that it basically feels like "Encino Man" in space. With a mysterious blue alien instead of an enigmagic surfer caveman. And an earnest young translator cadet instead of Pauly Shore. And though Brendan Fraser is apparently absent from "Thrawn", the situation's meliorated by my automatic tendency to imagine the titular character's portrayal by Benedict Cumberbatch. But yeah. Thrawn goes to school. It's pretty great. It would have been regardless, but this in particular is pretty great.


Bonus Question!


Best blue guy with glowing eyes?


Nightcrawler!


Ooh. But could he meet Thrawn? It'd be like blue Errol Flynn versus blue Sherlock Holmes!


Actually, this sounds exactly like the sort of scenario Nightcrawler would create for himself in the Danger Room. Dude treats that thing like his own personal version of Abed's Dreamatorium.


As well he should.

Iron Proxyvich

As it stands, “Iron Fist” is probably my favourite of the Marvel Netflix shows. I freely admit that this is probably predicated in large part on my feelings about the character. Of all the Netflix leads, he’s an easy favourite. A privileged white kid who often comes off like a crazy person and makes no real effort to discourage such impressions? Not hard to identify with.

Also? Chest tattoos are sweet. 

Also? Chest tattoos are sweet. 

I’d probably place Jessica Jones right behind that on the basis of being an unstable mess with a nice jacket.

 

Additionally, this one had my favourite centrepiece fight. It's not usually a focal point for me, but even I have some inkling of the reasons behind the plaudits for the hallway brawl from "Daredevil". But that's still just a squalid hallway. "Iron Fist" had a melee in a sumptuous elevator. That goes straight up my jam. It evokes memories of a childhood trip to San Francisco where my mother and her friend had to spend large swathes of time in work conferences or something. For a tranche of one such swathe, my brother and I occupied ourselves by wrestling inside an ever moving hotel elevator set against a bright new cityscape.

As its predecessors were, "Iron Fist" is a well crafted story. And as its predecessors did, it does have a bit of a dip in the middle. In this case, that dip takes the form of “Erin Brockovich” by proxy. But whatever. My favourite dip is still the one in “Jessica Jones” that saw her try to play house with Kilgrave. The strict adherence to the 13-episode format on a platform that doesn’t expressly require it reminds me of the comic industry’s modern tendency to fit many of its stories to 6-issue arcs in order to facilitate ease of collection in trade paperbacks. It doesn’t always seem perfectly appropriate, but I don’t honestly care. For me, the pith of the story isn’t really lost, and ultimately, I’m just getting more stuff. I can’t be bothered to put effort into finding fault with that.

 

Bonus Question!

 

Best move?

 

The fist does actually glow. It would have been easy to just let the chi be an invisible force, and I wouldn't have faulted anyone for that. But the fist, like unto a thing of iron as it is, does indeed glow. It's a beautiful thing. And I know glow.

Copyright © 2011, Jaymes Buckman and David Aaron Cohen. All rights reserved. In a good way.