I didn't mean to start collecting comics when I was a kid. I always had this or that lying around but until the mid-80s, I read them rather than collect them.
Then I found this one:
As you can see, I read it until the cover fell off. It was a fantastic story of loss and grief. I was all about the X-Men. I had tons of them plus every tangential story. And when Marvel started to add Wolverine to every title, I had those two.
But I actually read them.
In 1999, I got a job at Mattel. This is where I met the rabid collectors of crap. Barbie, Hot Wheels, Matchbox cars. People were nuts. I knew more than ever, that I didn't want to collect something for the sake of simply having it.
When my kids were born, I knew that I wanted them to read and comics were a great place to start. Giving a toddler a comic probably isn't a great idea so I waited a bit longer. The X-Men films were also not child appropriate, so more waiting. But in 2014, I took the family to see Guardians of the Galaxy.
My wife hates superhero movies, but she sat through any number of them for the kids. "This is their Star Wars," she said.
Funny true story: Just the other day, my daughter and I were talking about Thor: Ragnorok.
Me: Catherine. We should make your mom watch Ragnarok. Kitty: Sure. Me and Catherine: What? Kitty: I really like that show. Me and Catherine: ...
25 minutes later.
Kitty: Are we going to start watching the show? I don't really like superhero movies. Me: What do you mean? You said, "I really like Thor: Ragnarok." Kitty: Oh... I thought you said "Fraggle Rock". Catherine: Thank God! I thought I was going crazy.
Now it's just me and the kids going to the movies.
But it all started with comics.
This weekend we had a little flooding in the basement which forced me to again rescue what I have left. As I found this or that in the piles, I ran them upstairs for the kids to read.
You'll notice that my son Paul is absent from the picture. He is away right now, on deployment to god knows where. As much as I miss him on this Memorial Day, I know that he will be home in a few weeks thanks to the efforts of those who did not come home at all. I believe that because so many gave all they had so that the rest of us could have a better world.
And will we take some time to enjoy a comic or a movie together and it will be Good Times again.
Disney's gots its hooks in Star Wars. That was a development that I never saw coming. So, what to like about this?
Disney has a mix record on movies. With 5 in the can, only 2 are notable.
Rogue One was excellent as it presented a very different take on the world. It nearly didn't make it judging by the refilming, but it was very good. It captured the ideas very well and threw a bunch of stuff at the audience that meshed clearly with the original film. I could have done without the bit at the end with Vader, but otherwise, it was a decent Star Wars story. Which was a good thing because "A Star Wars Story" was in the title.
The next best film is also the most dogged. Solo. Again, this tried to diverge from the typical Star Wars setting it was very good in that respect. 99% of their battle was making people believe Alden Ehrenreich and Harrison Ford are the same person. That's a bad idea, but they did their best. It also suffers from the shoehorned villain ending. It was loaded with flaws, but was a passable story and fun romp.
Ramming killer villains into the end of films seems to be the Disney Double Gainer. Usually Disney kills the villain in the end, but in these films they live. New ground, I guess.
All the other live action movies wer dren. Yeah, I said dren. They were almost as bad as the prequels.
But the prequels and sequels give a hint as what could be good about the Star Wars universe. There is a running concept in the newer Star Wars films and spin offs. The galaxy is strange. There are things you wouldn't believe out that.
Now that's an idea right from the first film and occasionally Disney can nail it.
Where Disney seems to get into trouble is Disney-fying things. Force Ghosts that act like people is a very bad one. Zero mystery anymore, they hang in the Force StarWarsBucks while waiting to drop knowledge on us.
The other part is misunderstanding which movie the characters are in. Some of them are dead obvious like the need for fuel. More jarring is when they pull a classic sci-fi trope out and in dump it in the film, like Rey's Mirror Cave moment. It's good sci-fi, but bad movie making to assume that Star Wars is science fiction. It's more fantasy, but tightly defined fantasy. In introduces a lot of nonsense into films that don't have enough room for it.
But what is good about these new creations?
Before watching The Bad Batch, I went back to The Clone Wars series to see how they worked in that series. It wasn't a bad transition from one series to the other. The Bad Batch are introduced as anti-heroes to rescue Echo from the Separatists. In the end, they accept Echo into the misfit band. The entire ensemble are misfits, so Echo fits right in. They also diverge from pretty much everything else in Star Wars.
Tech is a genius in a world that seems to be lacking them. Hunter is a low-fi tramp like character thrust into a high tech world. Wrecker is the team meat shield, apparently having survived many things that would normally kill people. He has a massive scar on the side of his head which is clearly going to haunt him. Crosshair is a stormtrooper who can actually handle a weapon.
As divergent characters, they don't diverge much. Yes, they take off their helmets and armor, but in ways that make sense. They have mighty backpacks which seem to include a lot of the kit they need for missions. But aside from beefing up their profile, not much is made of them. They have interesting powers, but not that interesting. Tech is no more profound than Han Solo, but he has a better execution rate. Echo is basically a living R2-D2 which they already toyed with. Wrecker is a talking Chewie and Hunter is basically Luke without a lightsaber. The every dad.
It remains to be seen what Omega and Crosshair will become. And that is actually the key to Star Wars.
Title: The New Mutants (2020) Publisher: 20th Century Studios Year: 2020 Rating: 2 of 5 stars.
I've been a long time fan of The New Mutants. The idea of seeing the characters come to life on the big screen got me really excited.
Until I saw it. This damn film has been to Limbo more times than Illyana has. It was not worth the wait, it seems to suffer from some sort of technovirus in addition to many questionable story and plot choices.
Here is the run down of the character's names and powers:
Rahne Sinclair, aka Wolfsbane. A mutant that can take the form of a wolf or a transitional human/wolf form. She has all of the sense of wolves plus more strength and perhaps a healing factor.
Sam Guthrie, Cannonball. Can generate thrust anywhere on his body to propel himself through the air. While thrusting, he is impervious to anything. He does not have a healing factor.
Roberto "Bobby" da Costa, Sunspot. Bobby has the ability to absorb sunlight and use it to empower himself with great strength, invulnerability and flames.
Danielle "Dani" Moonstar, Mirage. Dami has the ability to project people's greatest fears and make them real. Historically, she not good at nicknames. Not only has her character changed her own code name in the comics several times, she doesn't even use other people's code names. A rare inversion of the "movie stars have no comic book codenames" trope.
And finally, Illyana Rasputin. Magik. Oh, boy. She's a sorceress with a magic sword, the ability to teleport, partial body armor, a tail, and a baby dragon.
There are only three other characters, Dani's dad, the Demon Bear and the evil doctor Dr. Cecilia Reyes who can make force shields.
The film does a variable job at depicting the character's powers on a budget. The effects were on-par with Ready Player One which is not a complement. Ready Player One was a massive mashup of decades worth of video game art which works in that film. It isn't great for other film types like The New Mutants.
The whole premise of the movie didn't make sense. The kiddos are trapped or staying a hospital for mutants. The hospital had a staff of one, Dr. Reyes.
Now, I've had a bit of experience working with kids and young adults. The first rule of these sorts of operations are two deep leadership. If you are not using two deep leadership, you're an imbecile. Dr. Reyes is an imbecile, she's trying keep the kiddos in the hospital all alone. Sam, Bobby and Rahne have given themselves over to the idea of staying. That kind of works. Dani is uncertain as to what is happening, leaving her open to staying or escaping as the chance presents. That doesn't go well at all.
The final character, Illyana has something else going on. She's a mass murderer and can teleport. Why is she still here, if not to kill everyone else in the film? And she definitely hates everyone, in a nasty, condescending, racist way.
As far depicting superpowers, they did a good job for a few of the characters. Sam's blasting ability was a great special effect. Dani and Rahne power's appear reasonable well done, magic and werewolves are classic B-movie fodder. They couldn't have done this poorly if they had tried. I think they tried. Bobby's abilities were just ho-hum. Illyana's powers come off as a cheap video game most of the time for no good reason.
Magik has the most wide ranging abilities, each with a vast scope. But they attempted to confine her character in tight spaces, like either Nightcrawler in the Oval Office or Captain America in the elevator. It was not a good choice because she has a massive frickin' sword. It looks like she can't fit in those spaces. When she gets out the open, they do a far better job at displaying her powers but by that time they had already decided on the video game style which wasn't applicable to the filming process.
Far too much time was spent on Rahne, who is a the most likeable character in the film but not the protagonist. They were one step away from having "The Wolfsbane Movie" and failed to make it. That would have been better than this, even if it was called, "A Werewolf in Starbucks".
My favorite bit was everytime Sam used his powers. He displays these brilliant blue/orange shimmery flames like charcoal on the grill which is an amazing play on his character. Sam comes from a mining family, so the reflection of coal in his powers is pure awesome.
Magik was shown trying to knock the Demon Bear into Limbo. It made perfect sense since she couldn't win in straight combat, but this tactic was negated by the strange video game special effects. It was kind of hard to tell that was her intent rather than random flashy scenery. The Demon Bear was awesome and terrifying, but the viewer shouldn't be rooting for the villain.
All and all, I give it one and half stars of five. (EDIT -- On rewatching, I've decided that Rahne and Sam merit a star on their own, so two-ish stars) Maybe you should read my 5 star review of Dungeons and Dragons (2000) to evaluate how not good this was.
Now showing on HBOMax, but you could wait a bit longer.