A few more thoughts on Superhero films…

Yesterday I wrote about the initial reactions to a sneak preview of the upcoming Black Panther film.

The reaction by those who were allowed to see it, as I noted, has been for the most part positive and many have been outright ecstatic.

And, as I further noted, I’m rather cool to the whole thing.

If you’ve read my writings around these parts you should know by now I’m a rather HUGE comic book fan.  Indeed, I’ve working in comic books and even have, along with my novels, a trade paperback out there, The Dark Fringe, available on Amazon.

For years I’ve been excited with the many waves of comic book movies -which for me truly began in 1978 with the release of Richard Donner’s Superman– but of late I’m finding myself kinda exhausted with the whole thing.

It’s part and parcel, I suppose, of getting older.

When I was younger, I had plenty of free time and would see a great amount of movies in theaters.  Nowadays, I’m lucky to find the time to sneak in one theatrical movie in three months’ time.

So one gets picky, I suppose, with what one will invest their time on.

I loved the original Superman when it came out.  I felt the first half of the first Tim Burton Batman film was the very best the character has looked on screen.  Batman Returns, its sequel, I didn’t like as much but over time I have to admit its grown on me.  I see little difference between Batman Forever and Batman & Robin.  Neither I like very much.

The Superman films, sadly, ended terribly.  The first attempt to revisit them, the Bryan Singer directed Superman Returns, was given three and a half stars by my local paper’s critic but I found it a crushing bore.

I liked the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films to an extent though there were things about it I felt were wrong (organic spider web fluids being one of the biggies).  Curiously, as much as I love Spider-Man comics, especially the original Lee/Ditko run, once I saw the first two Raimi Spider-Man films I felt I’d had my fill of the character on the big screen.  To date I haven’t seen the more recent Spider-Man films, my last experience being Sam Raimi’s third directed film.  The one pretty much everyone doesn’t like.  Spoiler: I tend to agree.  It was weak tea.

When the Marvel movies started in earnest following the success of the original Iron Man, I was intrigued.  I felt people were too harsh with Iron Man 2 though it wasn’t as well made as the first.  I felt the first Thor wasn’t bad.  By the time the first Avengers was released,  despite its wild box office success, I felt the film was overrated.

In retrospect, this might be where my superhero fatigue started.

That’s not to say there weren’t exceptions.

I loved Captain America: Winter Soldier.  Going totally against the grain, I also loved Batman v. Superman, though I would grant anyone reading this the “Ultimate Cut” is the version one should see.

I didn’t like Guardians of the Galaxy.  At all.

I thought Doctor Strange was curiously flat.  Wonder Woman was decent enough but not quite the classic it seems many felt it was.  Justice League, given all the behind the scenes intrigue, fared far better than it probably had any right to, but I’d be the first to say it too fell in the “decent” category.

Which brings us to today.

Coming soon to a theater near you is, as I’ve stated, Black Panther.  Soon after we’ll get Ant Man & The Wasp.  Soon after that, the Avengers: Infinity Gauntlet two-fer.  Somewhere along the line we’ll get a Captain Marvel movie.  Over at DC, work progresses on the Aquaman film, the Shazam! (their, and the original, Captain Marvel) film, and the sequel to Wonder Woman.  In the mix is a new Suicide Squad film, a new Batman film, a Flash film, and perhaps a new Superman.  The Tom Hardy starring Venom has finished filming.

And I haven’t even mentioned the TV shows featuring superheroes!

Have I forgotten anything?


Clearly the future holds many live action superhero works to follow, which I have little doubt will run the gamut from good to decent to perhaps not very good at all.  It’s the way things go, alas.

I won’t lie: Though I’m finding myself fatigued with the superhero genre, there nonetheless are some films on the list I’m curious about.  Others, not so much.

We’re clearly still in a golden age of Superhero films and, for those who like that sort of product, you’ve got plenty of stuff to choose from.

I hope those who seek these works out enjoy them.  I really do.

Just don’t take it too personally if I’m not cheering ’em on like I used to.

Oh, and get the @#!% off my lawn! 😉

First reactions to Black Panther

Returning to i09.com/gizmodo.com, Germain Lussier notes that a preview of the upcoming Marvel movie Black Panther was screened and audience reaction was for the most part positive/ecstatic:

The first reaction to Black Panther sound like Marvel has crowned a new King

Now, having pointed this out and at the risk of getting bombarded with negatives… I’m not all that interested in seeing this film.

In fact, now that we’re some… what?…  two hundred fifty six films into the Marvel “Universe” (I kid, I kid) I find myself less and less interested in the latest release.

I still haven’t seen the latest Spider-Man film.  I haven’t seen Thor: Ragnarok.  I refuse to see Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (to this day I’m bewildered so many people liked the first one, as you can read here).

Let’s face it: I’ve had enough of Marvel’s cinematic universe, even though I consider Captain America: Winter Soldier one of the all time best comic book movies ever made.

I’m tired of ’em.

And as a comic book fan, this is indeed a painful thing to admit.

The problem, in my mind, with Marvel movies is that there is a growing sameness to them.  They hit upon a winning box office formula and of late it feels like all their movies are following that formula.  This became most apparent to me with the Doctor Strange film, which was essentially a remake of the original Iron Man film but with sorcery.

But that’s just my opinion and if anyone out there reading this feels the complete opposite and is super excited to see Black Panther… then more power to you!  I’m glad you’ve found something that makes you excited to go to the theaters and I genuinely hope you have a blast seeing the film.

One final note: If you do follow the above link, check out some of the comments made by readers.  At least one of them apparently did see the film and his/her reaction is diametrically opposite to what the twitter reactions were.

I suppose we’ll see later in February, when the film is officially released.

Voynich manuscript… cracked?

Ever heard of the Voynich manuscript?  No?

It’s a document named after Wilfred Voynich, a Polish book dealer who in 1912 purchased the manuscript.  In the years since, the manuscript has been carbon dated to being made in the early 15th Century, some 600 years ago.  The manuscript is filled with wild images and even wilder notations.  Notations that no one has been able to decipher, at least not until now.

In the years since the manuscript’s discovery many, many people have scrutinized the work and tried to decipher whatever is written on it.  To date, no one has figured out what the notations mean, leading some to consider the possibility that the manuscript’s writings are nothing more than gibberish and mean nothing.

Here are some images of the famous (infamous!?) document (wanna see more?  Google Voynich manuscript then check out the vast amount of images available on the web!):

Image result for voynich manuscript

Image result for voynich manuscript

Image result for voynich manuscript

Now, however, and according to George Dvorsky at gizmodo.com…

Artificial intelligence may have cracked 600 year old manuscript

I won’t give away everything presented within the article but here is the key paragraph presented in the article:

For Greg Kondrak, an expert in natural language processing at the University of Alberta, (decoding the Voynich manuscript) seemed a perfect task for artificial intelligence. With the help of his grad student Bradley Hauer, the computer scientists have taken a big step in cracking the code, discovering that the text is written in what appears to be the Hebrew language, and with letters arranged in a fixed pattern. To be fair, the researchers still don’t know the meaning of the Voynich manuscript, but the stage is now set for other experts to join the investigation.

From a little later in the article:

For the final step, the researchers deciperhered the opening phrase of the manuscript, and presented it to colleague Moshe Koppel, a computer scientist and native Hebrew speaker. Koppel said it didn’t form a coherent sentence in Hebrew.

“However, after making a couple of spelling corrections, Google Translate [was] able to convert it into passable English: ‘She made recommendations to the priest, man of the house and me and people,’” wrote the researchers in the study, which now appears in Transactions of the Association of Computational Linguistics.

Fascinating, no?

Assuming these people are on the right path and the mysterious manuscript is indeed on the verge of being decoded, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if nothing terribly earth shattering comes from the actual writings, perhaps musings that while illuminating to the times, don’t mean all that much to us today.

Then again, I could be wrong and, I must say, it would be incredibly fascinating if I were so proven! 😉


In this era where just about everyone has a smartphone and many have smart or exercise/tracking watches and one’s location can be followed so long as the user sets the phone/watch to do so, that there just might come a point where that proves… troublesome.

Liz Sly from The Washington Post writes about how…

U. S. Soldiers are revealing sensitive and dangerous information by jogging

The article’s headline effectively tells you most of what you need to know: That some top secret bases light up thanks to soldiers wearing their smart watches while jogging or, for that matter, simply walking around their classified digs.

The article is well worth checking out and proves how scary modern times are, especially when we willingly have given away so much of our privacy to all those smart devices.

One of the comments made to the story says it all:

Why not post your position on Facebook?

Because the enemy knowing where you are at all times is a such a positive to the troops!

This, by the way, reminded me of a story a while back where thieves looked around Facebook for idio– …er… Facebook users who posted pictures contemporaneously when they were on vacation and far away from their homes and, when they returned home, found –surprise surprise!– their homes had been broken into.

Yup, that happened.

What’s good for the goose…

In the many years (and miles) of travel I’ve engaged in in this life, I’ve read, studied, and analyzed.  I’ve tried to put myself in others’ shoes and sought to follow the “do unto others” philosophy to the best of my ability.

I’m no saint, mind you, and I would never claim to be.

I also found, quite early in my life, that religion wasn’t for me and that I was, at heart, an atheist.  Having said that, I don’t begrudge anyone having strong feelings for their religion.  If it makes your day that much brighter to follow your particular faith, then more power to you.  I can respect your faith, can you respect my lack of it?

You see, this goes to one of the things that irks me -to the point of making my blood boil- most about religions: The seeming need to thrust your idea of religion on others.

See, though I have no religion, I don’t go around demanding others follow my ideas.

Yet there are those who do this, often with gusto, in the public arena.  One prominent example is the issue of abortion.  A thorny issue, I grant you, but one where the religious have tried to foist their ideals on others.

Enter the Satanic Temple.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: Satanic Temple?!  They’re evil, right?

Actually, not really.  This Wikipedia article on them offers a great summation of their philosophy and goals, all of which I’m all in favor of.

From the article, their stated mission is “to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people” …The Satanic Temple has utilized satire, theatrical ploys, humor and direct legal action in their public campaigns to generate attention and prompt people to reevaluate fears and perceptions, and to highlight religious hypocrisy and encroachment on religious freedom.)

In the case of Missouri’s restrictive anti-abortion laws, which are very skewed toward pushing religious ideals, they appear to be about to win in court using the very same tools the religious have used to argue their point.

From jezebel.com and written by Aimee Lutkin…

Satanic Temple suit may crush restrictive anti-abortion laws in Missouri

From the article (sorry for spoiling things):

The case states that in 2015, Mary Doe was forced to wait 72 hours, listen to a fetal heartbeat, and accept a brochure that states life begins at conception before she was allowed to have an abortion. These are all acts, the suit argues, that go against Doe’s religious beliefs as a member of the Satanic Temple. Those beliefs include a conviction that a “nonviable fetus is not a separate human being but is part of her body and that abortion of a nonviable fetus does not terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being,” according to NBC News, which she told her doctors in St. Louis.

Furthermore, the plaintiff says that the rules imposed on abortion seekers by the state of Missouri “does not advance a compelling governmental interest or is unduly restrictive of Doe’s exercise of religion.”

Using religious “rights”, in the plaintiff’s case with the Satanic Temple, is, IMHO, ingenious and, as I wrote in the headline, the very definition of the old cliche of “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander”.

And you know what?  Wonderful.

According to the article, the state has already pulled back on some of their ideas and, it would appear (again based on the article), the Satanic Temple is on the verge of scoring a win here.

I strongly believe that those who are very religious should be able to follow their paths.

But we cannot allow those paths to block others from theirs.

Sketchin’ 48

If you’ve looked through my artwork you should see that I’m a fan of movies.

Why is that?

The image presented in this entry is the answer…

Released in 1971, the movie Duel was directed by a then mostly unknown by the name of Steven Spielberg.  It was released theatrically in Europe but aired on TV in the US and Canada and, I do believe, I caught it when it aired in that year.  I was likely between four and five years old at the time and this proved to be the first film I saw where I realized a story was being told from beginning to end.

It was, to my very young mind, nothing short of magic.

I would not see the film again for at least ten years, and when I did I was shocked to find that it was directed by Mr. Spielberg but in retrospect, that should have been obvious.  For Duel is essentially an early draft, if you will, of the film that made him a superstar: Jaws. Only Duel featured a homicidal truck driver pursuing a harried driver along desert roads, their encounters proving more and more dangerous.

So why did this particular film affect me as much as it did?  Easy: It was essentially a silent film.

Sure, there was dialogue, but it was incidental at best.  In his commentaries for the DVD release, Mr. Spielberg pointed out the film was originally intended to not have one bit of dialogue, but the studio balked at that idea.  Still, for the most part it is a silent film… punctuated by the sounds of engines and squealing tires.  If you haven’t seen the film yet, give it a look.

It’s well worth it.

Bill & Ted’s third movie coming…?

Found this intriguing article written by Morgan Jeffrey and found on digitalspy.com concerning the possibility of a third Bill & Ted film ever seeing the light of day:

Bill & Ted writer reveals how the planned third film will pay tribute to George Carlin’s Rufus

Not familiar with Bill & Ted?  Here’s the trailer for the first film, followed by the trailer for the second:

For me, the two films were very funny and the standout joke of the second film, given away in the trailer, is that Bill & Ted play against “Death”, a la Seventh Seal, but of course, the games they play are silly.

I’m curious to see a third film but, on the other hand, one worries whether a film featuring 50 year olds would work in as goofy a fashion as the original two did with youths.

Tourism slump…?

Ben Popken over at nbcnews.com offers the following article which, I suppose, is political in nature yet has real world consequences:

Tourism to the U.S. under Trump is down, costing $4.6 Billion and 40,000 jobs

I know I’m probably preaching to the proverbial choir, but this here is a very solid example of the real world harm which happens when someone in as prominent a position as Mr. Trump shoots off his mouth as he does.

Considering I live in a region which benefits from tourism, this is indeed very scary.

Well it was… sorta… fun while it lasted…

It’s been revealed that the Danny McBride Crocodile Dundee “film” is, in actuality… not really a film but rather a promo intended to shine a light on Australian tourism, at least according to this article by Britt Hayes and found on screencrush.com:

Here’s the truth behind the fake Danny McBride Dundee film

For those unfamiliar with the whole thing, a week or so ago appeared the following “teaser” trailer (after the teaser featured below, you got some trailers for the other “real” Crocodile Dundee films):

Then, a few days ago, appeared a second, IMHO far more amusing trailer which featured Mr. McBride alongside Chris Hemsworth (this teaser trailer, annoying, concludes with the first teaser trailer):

Gotta give Mr. Hemsworth plenty of credit.  To make one word, “really” so funny takes considerable skill! 😉

Frankly, and if the story is indeed to be believed, if this supposed film was a fake, it was a clever bit of misdirection… and perhaps its for the best such a film isn’t made.  I mean, it could work, I suppose, but I’d be skeptical.