Tag Archives: Ghost Rider

Marvel’s The Avengers

In this culmination of the Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and Hulk series of movies comes The Avenger’s movie, produced by Marvel and Disney Studios. Okay, let’s be realistic about how much I know or care about the Marvel series and any of its connected works. There’s very little. I never really read  comic books when I was younger, other than Ghost Rider and Spawn. I always had a thing for the darker characters and (other than Ghost Rider) not a lot of Marvel characters caught my interest that much. So I was apathetic as to the plight of the superheroes in this movie. Didn’t mean I wasn’t converted into a huge fan in less than 2 hours. This movie alone makes me wanna go back and watch all the others, just to know what went down.

Now it’s not that I’m completely ignorant of the superhero world. I love Batman (not so much these latest installments that showcase Christopher Nolan as the be all end all of Batman with his same cast from every movie that he loves so much)

Lookin’ good there, Evans.

and Spiderman (again, why are they making another one in less than 5 years of the last one? Yes, it may be “more true” to a comic, but Sam Raimi doesn’t need to be spit in the face. My favorite director doesn’t need to be shown up for no damn reason.) and Ghost Rider (we don’t need to get into the whole Nicholas Cage issue, just read my blog on the second movie). I followed the Blade films and even checked out a Hulk or two. I was a kid once, and cartoons are all about superheroes.

The Hulk. Become a fan.

Which, I find, comes at a fault. To realistically shape and morph comic superheroes into people and set them in a different medium is a bit weird to me. You got these groups of superheroes coming together and nobody finds it odd or strange in a modern society that all of this is coming up out of sci-fi fantasy make believe. To depict these dark characters for what is considered to be something that children collect and watch and slap a PG-13 rating on it so the younger kids who like this stuff can’t see it? It seems strange to me. If my little 5 year old cousin can’t see The Avengers and he loves Iron Man, what kind of a situation is that? Yes, there are those comics geared towards an older audience, but you’re still appealing to something meant for those who are younger. Just something to think about.

Enough of my rant about the paradox that is comics and comic book movies. The Avengers is a particular story that has been in the making for a while now. All of these movies were put out in anticipation of one film that would unite all these superheroes in a huge clash of good versus evil. I can tell you though, I have

Some egos clash right here.

no idea who the bad guys were or what their purpose was in coming to Earth other than to destroy it. Nothing gained, a planet destroyed I guess. But you bring together all these clashing egos and you have yourself a more dynamic and interesting squad than the Justice League or any other huge star superhero teams out there.

Go on and use those “superpowers” guys…

Meanwhile, at some underground base that S.H.I.E.L.D. runs…

Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has heard some terrible news about this source of power/reactor thing that is going to change the world, known as the Tesseract. Talk about throwbacks to Madeline L’Engle and A Wrinkle in Time. Loki (Tom Hiddelston) transports from this sinister looking purple planet and steals away Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and this scientist, Erik Selvig (Stellen Skarsgard). They plan to use the Tesseract for some nefarious deeds, and take down Thor and all the other superheroes who have done them wrong. Loki has a score to settle with his brother and he is seeking revenge through some freaky deaky alien people.

So Nick Fury decides its time to assemble the team. He gets Captain America (Chris Evans) who was frozen in some ice in the ocean from way back when. There’s Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) who has been working on some new energy sources and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) who has been helping sick Indian children before he’s picked up by Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). Rounding out the team is Thor (Chris Hemsworth), come to find his brother and stop him. With these ultimate superheroes (and those like Black Widow and Hawkeye who really aren’t anything special thrown in) comes ego clashing, fights on an epic scale, and one of the coolest final battles shot in Cleveland and made to look like NYC that you’ll ever see.

Looks like Cleveland to me…

I didn’t have a lot of problems with this film. Overall, it set out what it wanted to do, entertain and tell the story of the Avengers, and make as much money as possible off of the series. I mean, a BILLION DOLLARS?!?! That’s pretty redonkulous. The dialogue wasn’t too bad and cheesy like a stuffed Ritz or anything, although Samuel L. Jackson got the short end of the stick in this movie. He was really bad in comparison to everyone else. He came off as incompetent and not a hardass at all. For shame Samuel L., for shame. I really enjoyed Mark Ruffalo’s acting in this movie as The Hulk. He was witty and laid back enough to believe that he was truly holding back a beast. And when he finally let out all that anger, I instantly became a Hulk fan. On the spot when he punched that alien dirigible thing in the face.

Thanks for this one Joss Whedon. Not so much Nick Fury over there…

There were some stunning visual effects in the film and some free flowing action. Unlike other movies that have a lot of cheesy comedy for the fans, this movie was far different than those. This movie has some good humor for a bit of an older audience. And every character has their own comedic scene. This movie is a pretty good balance of comedy, violence, and full throttle action. At no point in the film was I bored, and that’s a good achievement for a 2+ hour film. And a setup for a sequel? I wouldn’t mind that at all. If it’s still in theaters (and at the time of posting, it is) go check this out. It’s got a good range for a film that a lot people will find fun and exciting. So suit up and join The Avengers, it’s a cinematic ride you don’t wanna miss. A solid 8.5 out of 10, perfectly good action/superhero movie.

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Ghost Rider 2: Spirit of Vengeance

The second I saw this trailer in theaters and Ghost Rider is pissing fire, I lost my mind. First, I am a huge Nicholas Cage fan and love all of his work, good or bad. Second, I am a huge fan of the Ghost Rider comics. And this movie came up just at the right time. The first one didn’t do it for me. It gave me a small taste of the Ghost Rider I’m familiar with from the comics, but wasn’t true enough. This one, thankfully, redeemed that for me a bit.

In this installment of what I hope turns into a yearly thing, Ghost Rider is back. With a vengeance. Etc., etc., etc. And this time, Johnny Blaze is trying to hold back his powers. Knowing that, if he unleashes them, The Rider will kill those he loves and hates, Blaze must hold back the demon. This works for a time but soon, his powers are needed to save the world.

Nic Cage is back, with a more badass bike.

At the start of this film, in a nondescript location, Moreau (Idris Elba) is a drunken vigilante priest set out to warn a castle full of monks that they are no longer safe and cannot protect a young boy named Danny (Fergus Riordan) who is said to have the Devil within him. He must be kept from evil before the day of reckoning, and, of course, that’s not gonna happen. A swat-like takedown ensues and Danny and his mother Nadya (Violante Placido) are forced to leave the safety of the castle. Moreau performs a dastardly move and protects Nadya and Danny for a while.

Guilty.

Meanwhile, after Moreau escapes from his lofty predicament, he seeks out the help of Johnny Blaze, The Ghost Rider (Nicholas Cage). Confining himself to a shed in the middle of Europe somewhere, Blaze vows never to allow his powers to be used again. When told of Danny’s situation and the promise that Moreau can help remove his powers, Blaze agrees to let The Rider out one more time.

Nadya and Danny are on the run from Ray Carrigan (Johnny Whitworth), a no good gun runner and overall punk who is in league with Rourke, The Devil (Ciaran Hinds). He is successful in kidnapping him a number of times and it is up to Moreau, Nadya and Blaze to save him before it’s too late.

How is this drunk man driving?

I was more impressed with this movie more than the other one. Scott M. Gimple, Seth Hoffman, and David S. Goyer wrote a better script/plot that allowed for more elements of The Ghost Rider universe to enter. Johnny Blaze’s conflicted feelings come into effect in this movie. Although Peter Fonda didn’t come back for Mephistopheles (The Devil), Rourke was a poor substitute. Hinds’ decrepit body was no appeal for a diabolical devil. Blackout was a good addition to the series, although the decaying thing isn’t really a part of it, and Blackout is more a factor in the Danny Ketch/Ghost Rider series. Including Danny as a suggestion for the continuation for the Marvel Knight’s Ghost Rider was exciting, but that Fergus kid was a strange one.

Good old Johnny Whitworth is back!

The writers got most of the powers right, and even added a new one. Leaving out the Penance Stare was a bit disappointing and I really enjoyed that in the last film. But what was cool about this one was the ability for The Rider to create any vehicle into a Hellfire machine. I know it’s not true to the comics, but the CG suggestion of it was pretty badass. What they should have brought in was The Rider’s shotgun which projects hellfire. That’s what I’m talkin’ about.

I think where most people got hung up on this movie was Nic Cage’s performance. His performance comes off as over the top manic, and, if he had toned it down, things may have gone over better. His age is also a factor in the movies. A much younger Johnny Blaze probably would’ve been better. And the “Cage stigma” on the film probably stigmatizes the whole thing, but hey, as least it was a more truthful approach to Ghost Rider.

A little bit of the Nic Cage madness.

Other than the Cage’s acting, I was impressed with Idris Elba’s performance in this movie. This English actor badass from the 5th season of The Office as Charles Miner and his hit/award winning show Luther, his acting really attempted to tie down the movie in a more dramatic superhero style. Violante Placido wasn’t bad, although hard to pinpoint where she was coming from in this movie. The most exciting part for me in this movie was the return of Johnny Whitworth to my knowledge in the film world. After having not seen him since The Rainmaker, I was happy to see his good lookin’ mug again. And Ciaran Hinds just came across as some decrepit pedophile, no thanks to a strangeness in his character’s lines.

Get a taste of them comics, G.R. fans.

Other than that, I’m glad that The Rider returned. And Nicholas Cage thought, “Hey, I’ll reprise the role and give the people a show.” With a darker outlook on the Ghost Rider series, I really appreciated this one more than the other. And hope for more. Much more. This Ghost Rider gets a 7.5 out of 10.


Underworld: Awakening

Where’s Michael? Where is Michael Corvin?

You may be wondering that yourself after you see Underworld: Awakening in theaters (if it still is…) The second I saw this movie was in development WITH KATE BECKINSALE, I got really excited. This beautiful English goddess needs no introduction. The face and star of the Underworld series ( I won’t include Rise of the Lycans) comes back with a more violent and sexy force in this movie. And, at 39 years of age, Beckinsale is looking wonderfully sexy and vibrant, despite the whole vampire/death dealer thing.

I would say this tagline of this movie is “Where’s Michael?” because it is the most classic line from the trailer. Yelling in the face of some unfortunate human, Selene just wants to know where her lover is. Is that too much to ask?

Where is Michael?

Apparently it was too much to ask to get Scott Speedman to return in this film. From the first moment you see him, you know something’s up. He seems CGI, and, in fact he is. Shown for an entire 30 seconds of screen time, Michael goes from badass hybrid to invisible hider. The original purpose of the film is to find him, but it becomes complicated.

This scene was sexy.

Here’s some context. The war raging on for centuries between the Vampires and Lycans has a new contender. The humans have entered the battle and have learned the weaknesses to decimate both sides. In a terrible twist of fate, Selene and Michael are captured and are being held in a laboratory under cryogenic (?) freezing for over 10 years. (Was it 10? The number was a bit fuzzy…) Upon being released by some unknown third party, Selene awakens to a world she is unfamiliar with. All that remains with her is her ability to kill, and kill well.

After some romp stomp destroying of some lab guards, Selene begins to get her wits about her. Realizing she is not in a position of advantage, she begins her quest in finding Michael. This is complicated by what she perceives to be visions from Michael’s own eyes being projected to her. She follows them and what she finds is a young girl. A hybrid young girl. With things thrown out of whack and nothing as it appears, Selene and the last of the vampires must fight in a world where there enemy is no longer the Lycans, but what would appear to be a lesser subspecies. Us.

Time to lace up.

I gotta hand it to the creators of Underworld. You take a 6 year break from Evolution with Kate and come back just as hard as the original 9 years before this one? You have to know some die hard fans are gonna watch it regardless. Me being one of those die hard fans of Beckinsale and everything Underworld really helped out. The first one becoming a cult classic solidifies any future work on Underworld and makes it all the more interesting when, yes, they suggest a 5th one. Bring it on.

There's some violence for ya.

I really gotta say though, this one hit hard with the violence. There’s really not a big break between action scenes, but some of the action scenes really drive the plot in an unusual way that I haven’t seen in many action movies. Removing the fight scenes from the plot is a way to entertain without bogging down the stylized violence, but this movie said, “Eh, why can’t we have both?” And I agree. There are plenty of successful action movies out there that can balance what the genre promises with a bit of good storyline. And the Underworld series is one of those.

But yes, there are throat slashing scenes, lots of bullet holes through Lycan carcasses, and, really, not a lot of sympathy for the Lycans in general. In a

The last hopes for the Vampires.

series that kind of set up this idea between supernatural being unity, Lycans vs Vampires probably won’t die anytime soon. With hybrids and the humans as the common enemy, I expected some teamwork, but this movie takes it in a direction that makes sense as well without the Vamycans combine. Although, as anyone knows who has seen this series, humans shouldn’t be a threat to these races, but it happens. I guess if Van Helsing can do it… Others can.

I love that suit. And those guns. Everything.

The acting in this movie was fine, but not the main focus/intent of the creators. Kate Beckinsale, instant loveable classic. At her age, looking that good, the mist rolling over her naked body. Chills. Stephen Rea kind of came out of left field for me. One of the most experienced actors in the movie, his villainous nature came as strange. One, because he’s one of those self-absorbed, nerdy villains without the ridiculously gothic quality of say Bill Nighy or Michael Sheen. Two, his son Quint (Kris Holden-Ried) had an English accent in this movie and Stephen Rea as his father, Dr. Jacob Lane, didn’t. Those little nuances can bother a person.

I mean, at some points in the film, there were accents when there didn’t have to be, and others were there should have been (I guess). Beckinsale sounds wonderfully elegant as Selene with her British accent, but with Eve (India Eisley) it came off as awkward. An 18 year old girl portraying a 12 year old girl (it was close) with an English accent, in a city that I feel was in America,

I just have to include this shot. Chills.

seemed out of place. But the girl did her job, despite some of her only experience coming from The Secret Life of the American Teenager (utterly horrid).

That was also something that struck me as odd with Theo James in this film. As with some other British newcomers to the silver screen, David (Theo James) showed a slight potential as a relatively important character in this film. Bringing back the classic whips from the last scene in the original Underworld, he delivered his lines with a British accent, in an altogether unconvincing way. Charles Dance as his father, Thomas, one of the last remaining bastions of the Vampire dynasty, did a fair job, but he wasn’t a Bill Nighy type of character. He made his mark though.

You did okay, Theo.

Before I wrap this up, just wanted to throw a little shout out Wes Bentley’s way. This guys was a simple character who released Selene from her cryogenic sleep and got none of the credit. I’ve admired Wes Bentley ever since American Beauty (…and Ghost Rider) and I feel he is an underrated actor. So I would like to give him a nod in this uncredited role in Underworld, even though he was dropped out a window.

It's about to get heavy.

So, all-in-all, Underworld: Awakening did justice to the Underworld series. There was a great deal of action, although no Michael, and a plot that satisfyingly gave a chance for an Underworld 5. A fabulous twist that I didn’t see coming progressed the overall plot and left me falling in love with Selene all over again. I would agree with IMDB’s rating of this movie of a 7 out of 10, but, as a huge fan, I’d bump it up to a 7.7 out of 10. Nice job.


The Skull Man

Okay, so I really can’t talk about much of the plot without revealing a lot of what is revealed over this 13 episode anime. But I’ll say what I can. Hayato Mikogami is a journalist, sent back to his hometown of Otomo to investigate the mysterious killings committed by the notorious Skull Man. Hayato is followed by an curious and rambunctious photographer, Kiriko Mamiya. The two of them together, over the course of an all too short show, uncover the mysteries and secrets that lie under this dark town.

And that’s about all I can say. I watched this with my friend and we thought, “Hey. This’ll be pretty badass. It’s an anime about a man with a skull for a head.” I know what you’re thinking. I thought it too. Japanese Ghost Rider. Turns out not. I’m a real sucker for Ghost Rider, and I guess you could consider this an equivalent.

The show starts of kind of slow. But that all ends about six episodes in. After about episode 7, every episode becomes nonstop discovery and thrills. There’s one scene in episode 6 that surprised me so much I came close to crapping my pants. You really don’t know what to expect when it comes to this show, so when something happens, it flies at you from out of left field.

After some research, I found that this wasn’t the first rendition of Skull Man. There have in fact been 2 mangas that take on a slightly different approach. The original in 1970 was a one-shot manga that told the story of Skull Man and his quest for revenge. If you look at it, Skull Man is a really dark and sinister brother to Batman. In the 1998 version, we are given the Skull Man’s rise to power through mutation experiments and his battles with evil animals. Neither of these really have anything to do with the anime. If you’re expecting that/read the mangas, I apologize.

Besides that, the anime is really quite good. It has a detective style approach with dark undertones, coupled with violence and the outrageous discovery or two. The voice actor for Skull Man is great, and it’s really enhanced by the lines from Hamlet that end every episode and the theatrical judgment laced lines that Skull Man delivers. You don’t want it to end by the last episode, and at the same time, you want the back story. You want more. You want everything explained step by step. In a word. Hooked. You become hooked on what’s going on, and quite literally, you could watch this anime in one sitting and not be disappointed. The fight sequences and art direction are fantastic and give this great otherworldly feeling, yet tied into reality. Definitely something cast right out of the abyss. 7 out of 10.