Posts Tagged ‘Stan Lee

16
Nov
18

Stan Lee What?? Died? Not So Excelsior.

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Just a quick note on the passing of who might be one of the biggest sources of inspiration to my childhood and adult life, not as any example of a stellar human being, because, even though I’ve seen videos about the guy and featuring the guy speaking his mind about everything from comic books to diseases you could get as a soldier (for which he had to make some kind of flyers and/or comics in his younger adult days), I didn’t feel as if I knew the real person very well.  I felt as if he was always “on” pitching and promoting something, no matter how many actors played Spider-Man in different “trilogies.”

But, as a creative and hard-working person who spawned so many characters into the Marvel and its previous form’s universe, all of which, as I understand it, is somehow in the possession of the Disney empire?  [But, I could be wrong.]  …He was somewhat rare and special, even if some of his creations were on the creepy side (and thus avoided by me).

Stan?  You will be missed but, not likely, forgotten.  I have no grand speeches or colorful tributes at this time.  In fact, I feel quite flat about your passing.  Death.  It’s inevitable.  People are coming and going like the seasons.  It just becomes more “functional” as I get older to look at it without much emotion, even if emotions erupt uncontrollably as if part of human nature.  I just wish things were different before you had to go.

I will say this…

Hopefully, you get the chance to reconnect with Kirby “up there” and make some cool images in the sky, ya know, with the clouds.  Sky artists.  Just imagine.  Now, that is “excelsior” worthy.

Oh, look.  I found some tears, after all.  I guess…it’s sobbing time.  [A lil Thing poke, there.]

I’ll cherish so many movie cameos and the old comics as long as they last.

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This I made when talks of selling to Disney were happening.  And then, I laughed when he made his cameo in Ant Man and the Wasp, claiming he’s paying for his previous decisions from the 60’s (or his 60’s).

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Feel free to share your thoughts on the Man (Stan) and any of his creations you enjoy(ed).

 

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12
Jul
18

Ant Man and the Wasp, Movie Review

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Paul Rudd reprises his role as Scott Lang (aka the new Ant Man), the mild-mannered, I’m-okay-with-trying-anything thief-turned-hero, bringing along the lovely Evangeline Lilly, aka Hope van Dyne, daughter of Hank Pym and Janet van Dyne (the “original” Ant-Man and Wasp), as someone better and more fierce than the average sidekick in…wait for it…Ant-Man and the Wasp.  [So original.]  Taking place after his incarceration in Captain America:  Civil War, the sequel to the origin story introduces Laurence Fishburne as Dr. Bill Foster, a “former” colleague of Hank Pym’s who has some “super” history of his own and a…wait for it…”foster child” nicknamed Ghost, another victim of malfunctioning technology beyond human comprehension who suffers pain from phasing between dimensions.  The focus of the story is divided between saving Hank’s wife (Janet) from a very exclusive universe (like the tiniest nightclub overrun with blobs and parasites) and dealing with a “ghost” haplessly tied to the odd family’s tree, who could spoil everything if she doesn’t control her temper.

Anyone who has seen a trailer or commercial already has a clue to this Ghost being some kind of enemy to the heroes.  But, I’m here to tell you this film’s villain element is a tad weak by comparison to other Marvel hero films.  In fact, that is the one and only aspect that disappoints me.  I think Ghost–which reminds me of another comic book character by that name with a darker story–is more of a sub-plot than a villain.  And, where there was suggestion of another villain, that character or army never came.

[The first Ant Man film had a far better enemy (though he reminded me SO much of the Iron Monger in the first Robert Downey, Jr. Iron Man film).  There were touches of Hydra and other villainy probing the plot.  Yet, a lack of details made the whole a big foggy.  At least, the transitions from the first Ant Man to Civil War to this sequel sort of come into clarity, and the cast didn’t radically change.]

However, the film is saved by its staples.  Rudd is, once more, the sappy sweetheart and goofball, this time under government watch for a set number of years, counting down to his final day.  His character builds one awesome playhouse for his daughter.  Evangeline Lilly kicks more butt than necessary, racking up some serious “girl power” votes, LIKES or whatever you want to use to promote “women empowerment,” including turning an otherwise male character into a girl.  [SO much gender swapping, these days.]  I think she kicks more butt in this film than she did in the Hobbit story.  Michael Pena (Luis) is a riot with his unique story-telling skills.  [I think it would be a wild bonus feature ride to have an entire 30+ minute short film (if not a 1+ hr feature film) of him telling a reaaaaally long story that encompasses the rest of the cast explaining something either entirely unimportant or vital to the Marvel universe.]

Newcomer to the cast, Michelle Pfeiffer makes an enchanting Janet van Dyne, though she’s nothing like the Wasp I expected to see.  [Granted, she has aged quite a bit and become “something more.”]  Walter Goggins makes a very interesting and sinister impression as a shady businessman with contacts left unknown.  [I smell a Hydra.]

There is plenty of material here for a few films.  It just doesn’t get adequately put to use.  It’s like looking in a warehouse full of goodies you can see being turned into something bigger/better but letting the bright ideas drift to the back of your brain.  Instead, you just go along for the ride, get pumped to fight, endure a little pent up pain and frustration and laugh at a number of sight gags.

Hidden somewhere in the warehouse is some explanation for why Hank Pym and Janet van Dyne were not adequately featured in the company of Captain America.  At least, I think their heroics are from his original wartime.  If they are technically the original Avengers, where is that story?  The new Marvel universe has sort of thrown characters out of sync.  Why are Iron Man and Hulk decidedly modern compared to Ant-Man?  Isn’t it just as strange having a suit from the nineteen-teens or nineteen-forties sit around til some new guy, who happens to be a reforming thief, is given permission to take it?

Maybe if we give the aging Hank Pym a memory pill he will fill us in on all of the missing pieces.

I give Ant Man and the Wasp 3.5 stars out of 5.  It has 4+ stars of comedy, even if some is a tad corny and/or senseless.  It has 4+ stars of butt-kicking action and dangerous situations.  But, the glossy blur of technological mumbo jumbo and lackluster crisis/villain element waters down an otherwise epic adventure.  Like any movie with sight gags and related special effects, it’s probably more thrilling on the big screen.  But, you can plunk on the couch and let the time tick off your house arrest anklet while rolling with laughter.

And, don’t forget Stan Lee, true believers.  He makes a rather Excelsior! cameo, this time, claiming he is paying for something after enjoying the ’60s.  I think he’s referring to selling out to Disney.  But, that’s just between you and me.

 

17
Dec
15

What Sells a Certain Sci-Fi Franchise?

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If I mention a certain series of sci-fi films that have literally canvassed the globe in heaps of stuff, you might get excited.  [Please, don’t wet yourself…or me.]  Or, you might complain how everyone else seems excited but you.  Some of you may be a little divided.  And, rightly so.  I am, too.

And, as another tide of the hype hits me from television media, I ask myself…what sells the movies?

1- Is it the story? 

What IS the story?  How much of a plot is there?  And, how much is just visual fluff and audio hypnosis?

If I give it serious thought, stripping away the sounds and light shows, I am not sure there is much of a story.  At least, it’s not very deep in detail.  I might have to put on reading glasses to find a plot.  It’s more like a slide show of a war in progress with some splashes of stopping to gab or clash with peers.  More “Hold onto your seat!” and “Great shot, kid!” than “We’re family?”

When a film ends, we think there was a story because it all flowed with the wash transition effects.  If there’s anything that confuses us, we dismiss it in favor of the colorful pictures imprinted in our retinas.  I know I walk away asking more questions than I have answers.  And, if the new director’s other notable TV project with a title of four letters says anything about his future projects, I can expect more of the same, becoming LOST in the fantasy imagery and flashes of emotion.

If there’s one grain of serious story in the films, it has to be the father-son relationship and the impact of genetics/evolution upon life.  There’s also the rise of good and bad powers in deceptive clothing and the occasional changing of sides.  So, there is some story…but it might be like chunks of cereal floating in a sea of milky spectacle and merchandise.  [More on the latter later.]

2- Is it the acting, the cast? 

Can I really say any actor stands out for a stellar performance?  Well, I can think of two actors in the films that stand out for me.  One hated how she was “forced” to look.  As a little green puppet would say, “Bad costumes lead to anger.  Anger leads to hatred.  Hatred leads to drunken and verbally explosive behavior laced with expletives.”

The other, a male secondary character/actor, has had more films with meatier parts and gone through some small changes over the decades.  In some ways, he should have been the lead.  But, not if it meant he had to be a whiny youth with all the luck…except for losing limbs and turning evil.  [“Stop whining, already!  Don’t make me turn this spaceship around, mister!  No one’s destroying an empire today with that attitude!”]   Then, I guess, being second billing isn’t all bad.  I might even prefer to be a chatty orange creature with big, flapping ears in Goofy clothing.  [That’s right.  That annoying chatterbox was a pre-Disney takeover Goofy wannabe.]

There are some serious creature haters out there.  Some question the use of little people in teddy bear costumes.  I call those audience assemblers.  The films broaden the audience base by changing the original conceptions for the story.  A slasher samurai story becomes a dazzling display of both serious and silly characters.  It’s a Muppet show!  Everyone can come…even if you are too young to process the heavy stuff.  Bring the family!  Buy more tickets!  Spend more on snacks to appease the restless ones!

3-Is it the music/sound effects? 

A very likely possibility.  There is definitely a sound buffet that dazzled ears when they first heard it.  Thank the orchestra and sound effect technicians.  There are iconic sounds that people will echo when the titles come to mind.  So, that much sticks with many if not most viewers.  You might pay twice to hear them, again.  [Or, you could seek the purchase of a soundtrack.]

4-Is it the visuals, the special effects and cinematography?

As I like to say, if you have the resources, anything is possible.  We’ve already highlighted the orchestra which could get pricey.  What does it cost to film on lavishly decorated sets, create countless models and mold goofy yet innovative costumes?  How much does a growing, glowing light sword cost?  Could someone with less or more money have done the same or better?

5-Is it the merchandising?

Well, you tell me.  How much of the “stuff” have you already bought?  How much do you enjoy it?  And, how much sits on a shelf, hoping to not get scratched, dinged or dusty?  I worry about those who feel the need to collect nearly everything if not everything ever made for a film.

There has been WAY too much merchandising for the latest installment.  I cannot express that enough.  It’s sick.  It does not bode well for the environment nor mental health.  What it DOES do well is guarantee more kids will have plenty and not go “starving” for what another kid has.  It spares envy and jealousy.  But, does every kid really need a stiff plastic replica of a guy supposed to be the most evil thing in the universe?…at least, until someone replaces him.

But, if merchandising blindsides the story, what sense is that?  If you care more about the stuff because you saw it displayed in a commercial window.  Look, I have the guy on the screen!  Are you really enjoying the stories/films or clinging to material things?  Shouldn’t the story sell itself?  Aren’t there other films you like as much that have no toys to go with them?  Aren’t you just as happy without the stuff?

So, even if merchandise boosts ticket sales, it seems excessive and misdirecting.  It smells like people trying to milk something for all it’s not even worth instead of being content with smiles for a good show.  I guess there’s nothing wrong with getting a sale while the selling is good…until I think of all the packaging and impulse/erroneous holiday shopping that leads to second-hand and dumpster madness.  When is enough enough?   And, what monstrous behavior are we encouraging with all this production?

[And, let me just say this.  It’s probably the merchandising that bothers me most of all.  It may be the reason I feel compelled to write such a post.  That and one empire swallowing another just to become more ridiculous.  The films write the story of their own demise.]

6-Is it the “hype?”

I think that’s obvious.  I like how an article I recently read puts it.  Empty interviews with people who have not even seen the film(s).  Let’s get the cast on camera as much as possible with people who have no clue to promote, package, sell it every way possible until all parties are puking swag and over-tired….until everyone looks at what should be a delight as just another job in which we augment our bodies to fit a part for someone’s amusement.

Who is amused?  Not those who make the films other than the few golden moments of fan appreciation that get washed away by financial dealings and the next project on a star’s radar.  How many actors actually see their own films…and like them?  “Thanks, everyone, but I need to focus on changing my body for the next role…I DO have another role coming up; don’t I?   Where’s my agent?  Don’t pigeonhole me.  Send money.”  How many ways or times can an actor be asked how a film “changed their lives” or “changed the world” with some bleached smile in their face?  How many B.S. answers must be given on camera to appease the masses that are driven by hype-mongers?

MOOOO-vies!  Get along, lil couch potatoes!  Yah!  Buy more stuff!  Throw it away and buy even more!  Yah!  Then, it’s onto the next one.  Yah!   So what if you have ten thousand little people in white suits of plastic armor, some missing limbs or burnt to a crisp because you felt you had the luxury to torture the excessive supply in your play room.  [That’s right.  I veered back toward merchandising.  Because it’s everywhere.]

So, in conclusion, yea, I will likely see the latest film.  But, I won’t fully enjoy it because I am so frustrated with the negative points.  I might have been a more loyal fan if the leads in the films didn’t annoy me so much and if there wasn’t such competition over the old stuff and excess of the new…which looks a lot like the old.  You can paint a soldier a dozen different ways.  But, he still smells the same.  New packaging, same product.  Still…well, you decide if its a winner or a loser.

May good conscience and judgement be with you.  With tremendous power comes tremendous concern for how one uses it.

[Damn it, Stan!  Why did you have to sell your empire off to Disney?   There.  I said it.]

 




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