X-Men: The Last Stand Redux

I cringed two years ago when I read that Bryan Singer was leaving the X-Men film franchise to resurrect Superman for Warner Bros. I became fearful when the writers of the third X-Men movie were announced as the guy who wrote xXx: State of the Union and the guy who wrote Elektra. But then director Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake) joined the production and I felt a little better. And then he left the production after what seemed like a week. And Fox announced its third and final choice as director and it was Brett-motherfucking-Ratner. And I screamed and cursed toward the heavens, because there was no way this hack of a movie director was going to come close to, let alone surpass, the work that Singer and his writers had accomplished.

Fox was so eager to beat Bryan Singer's Superman Returns to the theatres, to childishly prove some sort of point, that they rushed production, rushed the writers, rushed the casting process, rushed the whole thing into theatres so fast that no one had time to stop and think, "Wait, is this movie even any good?" Sadly, the answer is an emphatic, "No."

I don't even know where to begin.

The characters whom Singer had so wonderfully brought to the big screen, whose personalities were crafted so perfectly (albeit differently from the comics, which is fine, cause these are movies, not comics), they were practically unrecognizable in this third film. I cannot think of a single character whose actions made sense in the context of the series. There was no continuity of personality, for anyone, from the previous films to this one. It was like the only thing they wanted to use from the last movie was Jean Grey's death. Everything else was just tossed aside like so much trash.

I also had issues with the plot of this atrocity: a mutant being used by humans to eliminate the "mutant problem." Sounds vaguely familiar, like that of the second film, perhaps? Of course, in the second film, Stryker used his mutant son to coerce Xavier into killing all the mutants, whereas in the new film the idiot humans were simply using a young mutant to create a "cure" for mutations. See, much better than wholesale slaughter, right?

The other aspect of the so-called plot was an incredibly weak attempt at the "Dark Phoenix Saga," a storyline akin to the Bible for comic book converts. Relegated to the "B" story, it made absolutely no sense, especially in context with the previous two films. There was no emotion, no resonance. A story that could have been a trilogy in its own right was a mere circus sideshow. And since the characters were so poorly written, you just don't care about what happens to them. "Jean Grey Goes Nuts and Kills Everyone With A Three-Movie Contract." There, that's the arc of her story.

There are just so many little things that annoyed the hell out of me about this movie, little, subtle things that Singer does so well in all of his films (The Usual Suspects, Apt Pupil). Why? Because he's not only a good director, he's a good storyteller. Singer knows how to slow things down, to let the characters breath, to react, to simply exist in the moment. Ratner, he doesn't know what the word "subtle" means. He's all about big action sequences and explosions and cheesy one-liners that would make my grandmother cringe.

(I was telling my dad, there's a scene in the second film, a little more than halfway through, when the X-Men are flying to Alkali Lake for the final confrontation with Stryker, that I like to call the "Seduction of Pyro" scene.

Magneto and Mystique are sitting in the back of the plane with Pyro, a student of Xavier's, discussing who the "bad guys" really are, and Magneto uses his power over metals to levitate Pyro's lighter out of his hand. Magneto grasps the lighter in his hand and looks into the flame and asks Pyro his name.

He replies, "John," to which Magneto again asks, "What's your real name, John?"

"Pyro," he says, manipulating the flame from his lighter. "You are a god among insects," Magneto tells him, handing the lighter back to him, not using his power, but leaning over and placing it in Pyro's hand.

That moment, when Magneto treats Pyro as an equal, not as a child, not as a student, that moment is written, performed and directed so elegantly, so equisitely, it's beautiful. And Bryan Singer has tons of those little moments in his films. Brett Ratner couldn't create a scene like that if you gave him 20 years to try.)

This movie simply isn't fun. It isn't entertaining on any level, save for that of a traffic accident when everyone slows down to look at the carnage. Worst of all, this movie is boring. I can live with a crappy film if it at least entertains me. Look at Fast and the Furious. That's certainly not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it's fun in its absurdity. I wasn't entertained or excited by a single aspect of X-Men: The Last Stand.

Bryan Singer's films are both action-packed and thought-provoking.

Ratner's is just nauseating.

(And where the fuck was Nightcrawler?)


Jennie and Dave's Wedding

There was much fun and rejoicing today as Jennie and Dave tied the knot downtown. It was a nice outdoors ceremony, short 'n sweet (it was about 95 degrees, so the shorter the sweeter), followed by lunch (indoors, thankfully) and mingling.

And champagne. Gotta love the champagne.

The bride looked absolutely beautiful, as did her entourage, Becky, Rose and Nikki.

I have just a couple photos I took with my phone (I totally forgot my camera) on my Flickr site and I uploaded some short videos to YouTube:

Jennie and Dave's first dance

More of Jennie and Dave's first dance

Jennie dancing with her father

Hopefully I will be getting photos from people who remembered their cameras later, so I can show more of the big day.

My heartfelt congratulations to Jennie and Dave Beckman. On behalf of your friends, we couldn't be happier for you.

Mazel Tov!


X-Men: The Last Stand

Worst. Movie. Ever.

More later...

Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite Sadness

Bryan Lee O'Malley finally returns to comic shop shelves with long-awaited and eagerly-anticipated third volume of the awesome and amazing adventures of young Canadian slacker and bass player (in a band called Sex Bob-omb), Scott Pilgrim.

And it is good.

To succinctly recap the main thrust of the story to this point, Scott began dating American ex-pat Ramona Flowers in Volume 1 only to learn that in order to continue dating her he must first defeat her 7 Evil Ex-Boyfriends (EXBF) in (mostly) hand-to-hand combat.

This volume showcases an epic showdown between Scott and the third EXBF, Todd, a Vegan with extraordinary psychic powers ("Mind bullets!") who just so happens to be dating one of Scott's exs, Envy, an uber-hot and fashionable alt-rock singer whom Scott isn't completely over yet.

It is a convoluted, sordid tale to say the least, full of angst, heartbreak, betrayal, and ass-kicking (with a giant magical hammer).

I cannot think of a single comic that I've enjoyed over the past couple of years, if ever, as much as Scott Pilgrim. Everyone should be reading this awesome book. It is bursting with awesomeness.

Find out for yourself by clicking here and reading the Free Comic Book Day story (scroll down a bit). And once you're convinced of the high level of awesomeness, buy the graphic novels or find someone to "borrow" them from.



Alissa and I picked up Jennie and Dave at the airport Tuesday morning. They flew in from Boston to, you know, see some friends and family, do a little shopping, get married, see a Dave Matthews concert. Nothin' too important.

The wedding is on Sunday. Seems like while all of their friends are looking forward to the event, Jennie and Dave are looking forward to simply having it over and done with. I've been a part of many weddings over the past few years and I gotta tell ya, it sure seems like a stressful occasion. At least until the actual ceremony begins. And then it's as though a great weight is lifted off the bride and groom and everyone finally enjoys themselves.

See, look, Jennie's already beginning to have fun:

(Sorry about the sound. There was music, I swear, but the phone was closer to the people having conversations at the table and I don't have any cool editing software.)

In other news, um, Duncan's engaged, or so I hear.

He's been dating one of Jennie's Dave's best friend's sister for, oh, I dunno, over a year and a half, I think, and the best friend, Kevin, was at the bar tonight and I mentioned that I had met his sister when Duncan stopped over a couple of weeks ago. So we got to talking a bit and he said that his sister and Duncan had gotten engaged a couple of months back and are getting married in October.

You could literally hear my jaw hitting the table as it dropped wide open.

So now I wanna know why Duncan didn't mention this when they stopped by. I'm slightly hurt, I think.

Everyone's gettin' married these days. I'm startin' to feel a bit left behind, out of the loop.


Here's to Jennie and Dave, and to Duncan and...now I'm embarrassed that I've forgotten her name. (Sorry about that.)


Straight A's...Almost

Since I went back to school last year I've taken a total of 9 classes (ten if you count the refresher algebra class I needed to take before I took the one that actually counted) between Metro and UNO. The first class was World Civ II, in which I received a B+. The rest of the classes, straight A's, and my GPA has risen from 2.0 to 2.6 (it'd be higher, but the classes transferred from Metro count only toward credits taken, not GPA).

Thinking back to elementary school, I can't recall a similar stretch of grades ever in my life.

And now I have a little more than a month off before my summer classes at UNO start. I fear I'm going to be slightly bored. But I have books to read and video games to play, and, really, what more does one need?

Oh, right...a woman...well, that can wait til after I graduate, yeah? You know, when I (hopefully) have a job and money. I hear dames like that sorta thing.


Happy Mother's Day...

...to all the Moms out there, but especially to mine, because she's put up with me for over 27 years and still shows no signs of it negatively effecting her.

Unless you count when she mumbles to herself.

Which is often.

Love ya, Mom!


School's out for summer...almost

I need to write more. The reason I started writing a blog 'lo those many years ago was to force myself to write more often than I was at the time. And for a while I was great at it. Two, three, four posts a day. Were they substantive? Probably not, but I was writing them anyway. And then I got carried away.

I became so consumed with politics for a time, it seemed like that was all I wrote about. This administration conjured so much venomous bile in me that if I didn't vomit it onto the blog it would have proven even more toxic to me, slowly killing me with the shear and utter incompetence it embodied on a daily basis. But it became too much. A task, a chore that I felt I had to carry out. It was all-consuming and mentally draining. It takes a lot of effort to harbor the amount of anger and hatred I felt for my government. I was cultivating it, nurturing it. I needed it. Or so I thought.

I felt as though a great weight had lifted from my shoulders when I initially shut the blog down. I needed to get away, to recharge my batteries, to discover why it was that I felt this compulsion to write. But something happened that I wasn't expecting. Not writing about politics released much of the pent up rage I had been holding on to. (As you may have noticed, I've written nary a rant against Bush Nation in nearly a year.) Unfortunately, I feel I haven't been able to write much of anything of any importance lately. And I'm not sure why.

I think I was so passionate in my hatred, contempt and disdain for our pathetic excuse of a president that I misplaced my passion for just about everything else. When I decided not to write much, if anything, about politics it was as though I were a balloon that had been stuck with a needle, all my hot air rushing out as I flew about the room before fluttering, limp and empty, to the floor.

Don't get me wrong. I still feel nothing but righteous anger toward Bush and his cronies. But I also feel something I hadn't felt before, when I'd get myself all worked up over what he was doing to my country: sadness. Every day I read about the latest violation of the Constitution perpetrated by the administration and I simply shake my head and wonder at how we could have let this happen. Were we so blinded by the thought of vengeance after 9/11 that we were willing to live in a police state? How could there be so much apathy amongst the citizenry of this Once Great Country?

I need to write more. I need to reignite the passion that once burned me to the core, that caused me to scream and to rant and to write. I don't necessarily need to anguish over the administration as I once did. There are plenty of writers, both on- and offline, who more eloquently make my points for me. But I need something. I need to regain my passion.


Happy Free Comic Book Day!

FCBD has, over the past five years, become one of the biggest days of the year for comic book geeks and shops across the country. It seems that every comic book company, from the big guns at Marvel and DC to the small, indie, specialty companies like Oni, Top Shelf, Fantagraphics and Adhouse, is in on the fun, printing copies of Superman and Batman comics as well as Scott Pilgrim, Owly and tons more that you've never heard of.

I stopped by Krypton around 11:30 this morning and the place was packed. There was a line out the door of mothers and fathers and children waiting to get their hands on some free comics. I don't remember the last time I'd seen so many children in a comic book store.

The kids were kept entertained by some local Stormtroopers, a sorta pudgy Darth Vader and a couple of very pudgy Jedi. (Sorry, no pictures. But who wants to see a chubby Vader anyway?)

A few local and semi-local artists were on hand to sign comics and sketch for people (Phil Hester did a great head shot of the main character from his graphic novel, The Coffin for me), and Sarah Douglas, the bad girl, Ursa, from Superman II came all the way from her home in London, by way of Los Angeles, to sign autographs and pose for pictures.

I didn't have a chance to speak with the owner, but it appeared to me that the day has been an amazing success. Everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun. I hope it's been the same with the other stores in town and across the country.


And I'm back

Feeling better, though I've still got some crap in my chest. Should clear up in the next couple of days, I hope.

Today was my last day of classes at UNO. Two finals, sold some books back, looked into an on-campus job for the fall semester. I had a busy day.

The Metro quarter doesn't end for another few weeks yet, and then my summer UNO classes don't start up until the end of June.

I'm fairly certain I'm going to end up with A's in my two UNO classes. I won't say they were easy, but I enjoyed them so I actually paid attention, which, I suppose, did make them easier than if I had been bored and slept through each class. I really gotta hand it to my teachers for making the classes relatively fun. Sure, my attitude is different this time around, but if these classes had been boring, I don't know if I would have made it through the semester.

Pearl Jam's new album came out today. It is most excellent. I'd have to agree with most of the reviews I've read and say that this probably is their best album in a decade. There seems to be more passion and fire behind the lyrics and music.

The new one from Tool is out today, too, but I haven't listened to it yet. From the song I heard on the radio, it kind of sounds like their last album, which kind of sounded like the album before it. A little variety would be okay, guys.

Not much else goin' on today. Gotta do some work on this paper for my religions class.

Oh, this Friday at Joslyn, Film Streams is showing Jim Jarmusch's Down by Law. Same as before: movie starts at 7, $10 for a ticket.

And the following day, Saturday, is Free Comic Book Day. I'll probably be down at Krypton Comics for a couple hours. They're gonna have Stormtroopers and writer/artist Phil Hester signing autographs. Should be fun. Stop on by. You can't beat free comics.