Making Sweden 5% nerdier than it has to be.

Friday, April 30, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW: Iron man 2

This movie is Awesome.

Really, for comic book fans the only thing that they need to know about the sequel to the hit movie adaptation of the comic book hero Iron man is that it delivers the good by building on what the first movie set up and that it is Awesome.

When it comes to everybody else I shoud probably go a little bit deeper than that.

Like I said, it builds on the previous movie which ended with our portagonist, Tony Stark/Iron man, announcing his secret identity to the entire world on national television. The sequel begins with Tony riding the fame that's come with this revelation, apparently after scaring terrorists all over the world into a temporary peace, and opening the "Stark Expo" where the inventions to be used to improve the world are demonstrated.

However, as with everybody who becomes popular people are starting to, for better or worse, want a piece of Tony. But we'll get to those soon. Besides this problem Tony has another rather fatal problem. The power-core that's keeping him alive and helps to power his suit is slowly killing him. So it's a bit understandable that he's stressed out at the start of the movie.

This is still Robert Downey Jr's movie and with good reason. Downey's Stark is still as entertaining before as being hero hasn't made him any less eccentric, but there's something else that one might miss if one blinks. With death looming over his head Tony is trying to secure his legacy in various ways that he hides well by passing them off as his eccentric ways or unloading his work onto other people. In short, Tony's trying to do something responisble while masking that he is in fact being responsible and it's rather well-acted. At the same time he is looking for some sort of stupid thrill, like people that know that they're going to die soon tend to do (I'd imagine). Which leads to some of the more questionable choices in the movie.

Really, the movie is more of a character portait of Tony Stark than anything else. How he deals with the world knowing and wanting his secret while trying to maintain his own life as best as he can. So yeah, it's great that Downey is able to play the role as perfectly as he does.

Alongside his personal problems Iron man is faced with two widely different opponents, just like in the frist movie, in the form of the revenge craving russian Ivan Vanko (Micky Rourke) and jealous former rival weapons developer Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell).

Of the two Ivan is by far the more intimidating as he has the intelligence and skills to match Iron man and an overall frightening appearance with metal teeth and stripey hair. Rourke plays him as a very ruthless and sinister individual that you're not meant to pity, despite his sad introduction. You're supposed to fear this guy.

Hammer on the other hand is a bit disappointing. He is much less sinister than his comic book counter-part and rather dorky. He has the resources to be a big time villain but falters due to his personality. That doesn't mean that he's entertaining or a bad villain. He's just not what I expected, but I'll chop that up to lack of experience as this is his first step into villainhood. But really, he's just an annoyance to the hero and a vehicle for Ivan Vanko to reach greater heights of comic book evil. That they have these roles however is a sign that Iron man 2 isn't just repeating the previous movie.

In the first movie the more passive villain was the foreign terrorists that held Stark captive while the American bad guy turned into that film's ultimate physical threat. In the sequel it's the foreigner that acts as the powerful physical threat while the american takes the more passive role in the duo. In short, they're not just rehashing ideas but mixing it p a little.

On the other side of the equation we have Iron man's allies.

Gwyneth Paltrow reprises her role as Tony's confident Pepper Pops. I really love this version of the character along with Paltrow's acting. She's a strong woman in her own right that can match wits with just about any one in the movie while at the same avoding being a super-mega badass. Nothing against that type of female character, but it's nice to see that a woman can be strong without having to be able to kick your ass. Also, her interactions with Tony Stark are among the most enjoyable moments in the movie.

Now if you do want an ass-kicking lady as well Iron man 2 supplies that as well in the form of Scarlett Johansson's secretive secretary. Really, her action scenes are among the most impressive in the entire movie. She switches between cool professional and skilled but awkward seamlessly and it's all around a good performance. Also, she is REALLY hot. So... yeah.

Samuel L. Jackson once again, he's in the after-credits scene in the first one if you didn't know, plays the role that was pretty much made for him, litterally, Nick Fury. Jackson gets to do the thing that he does best, if you ask me. He talks a lot. He's cool, funny and and smart. Everything you'd expect from Jackson AND Nick Fury. He's just great fun to watch.

Lastly there's Don Cheadle who takes over from Terrance Howard as James Rhodes, who in this movie becomes Iron man's partner War Machine. Personally I don't really see the need for the change as I think that both actors did good jobs with the role. The road that's taken to turn Rhodes into War Machine is an interesting one and well-woven into the main plot of the movie.

Speaking of the plot it does take move along at a surprisingly calm pace compared to the first one. But it doesn't feel at all slow. The situation is carefully built up and supplies the audience with everything before moving into high gear with some truly comic book style action scenes that become even more dynamic due to the previous leisurely pace.

The action scenes has been greatly improved for this one, they were good in the previous movie but could've been better. A greater sense of urgency and speed has been added along with better coreography. But at the same time some of them feel a bit cluttered and blurry. Jon Favreau seems to be on a learning curve when it comes to these things. The point is that he's getting better but he's not quite there yet. There's still loads of good stuff here for action fans.

Where the action was the first movie's weaker points the sequel's seem to be the jokes. They just feel less sharp and witty in this one. Again, they're still funny or so bad that they're funny, but they could be better.

Another criticism is that one of the mistakes in Superman Returns appears in this movie as well. There's way too little interaction between Downey's Tony Stak and Rourke's Ivan Vanko. The one or two scenes where they do talk to each other is great stuff but I wanted more damnit.

All in all, a great movie and a worthy sequel to the first movie. It continued the story in a well-done fashion and expanded on the Iron man movie universe. Oh, and stay behind to watch the after-credits scene. That one expands the Marvel movie universe... and makes nerds shout with joy to the terror of non-nerd movie viewers. ':)

Overall score: 9/10.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Well... that was invigorating.

I'm officially going to declare spring and summer movie season open and for me Kick-Ass was probably the best way to start it all off. It had pretty much everything that I wanted to see from a pop-corn action summer movie. Great action scenes, good humor, a well-structured and engaging plot and talented cast. Also, it was just freaking fun.

Ok so storywise Kick-Ass is your basic superhero movie but a few steps closer to reality than Spider-man or Superman's movie are. There's no powers involved here. The hero didn't get hit by radiation or stumbled upon a crystal from outer space or anything like that. Nope all that we get here is a young man that tries to do something genuinely good in a ridiculous fashion. But hey, whatever works right?

It is a well-told tale of a naive idea blossoming into a phenomenon and then blowing up in the instigator's face. What really makes it fun is that the people that made this movie clearly know their comic book conventions and comic book movie conventions. There's lots of obvious, and possibly a few not so obvious, nods to comics and their movie adaptations, both wellknown and obscure. The producers also know that the events in this movie is just as unlikely to happen as the stuff from any other superhero movie. So while pretending that it's realistic they just went over-the-top with the whole thing.

But it's not thrown at the viewers faces all at once. Instead the movie allows it's over-the-topness to steadily climb throughout the movie. Beginning with a dude that tries to fly under his own power and dies in doing so and eventually reaching a finale that kicks all sense of reality in the crotch, rolls it into a ditch and covers it with ten tons of cement to make way for a climax that quite honestly is just GLORIOUS.

Having read a summary of the original comic's ending I was worried about the ending of the movie being too much of a downer that would leave me feeling that the world is a horrible place. Luckily this is one of those times when Hollywood makes the movie adaptation more light-hearted. It ends on an overall positive note with a bold new world and people are actually happy and stuff. It's nice you know. It's totally different from the comic and I am happy that it is.

That's not to say that there aren't any dark moments in the movie as well. Believe me, this is not a movie for the squeemish. The violence i violent in the real world kind of way and there's a very nasty torture scene right before the finale. Also, it tends to showcase humanity's flaws rather realistically. The humor also tends to lean a bit to the darker edge at times. And you know... an eleven year old girl kills loads of guys and finds it funny. But it evens out with being pretty damn goofy at times.

As for problems with the plot and story. I would've like a little more explanation as to why Nicholas Cage's character talked like a weirdo when in Big Daddy mode. I mean, I can sort of understand that he might be masking his voice to make himself more difficult to identify based on that. But Hit-Girl doesn't do that. It's not a game-breaker but it sort of bugged me. Also, I felt that Red Mist's and Kick-Ass relationship could've needed more development. It just seemed kind of odd when it was revealed that Red Mist didn't want Kick-Ass to be hurt when previously he was aiming to get him taken out.

Then there's one of my constant annoyances with fiction overall, but especailly movies. The love story. There's a rather shallow one between the titular character and your average popular cheerleader type female love interest. While I could personally live withou it I gotta say that for one moment they actually use their relationship to give some deeper meaning an conflict to Kick-Ass' reason for being. So cudos for that.

Moving on to the action. I've seen many reviews compare the action in Kick-Ass to the action in a Tarantion movie and I will simply agree with them. It's brutal, fast-paced and beautifully coreographed. I'm not sure how much of it is CGI, if any, but it sure as hell looked a lot more real than most other superhero movies you will see today. Well... except for that one scene, you'll know which one. Anyway, the action was great and I didn't even think about CGI while watching the entire thing. I appreciate that very much.

The acting in the movie varies from good to excellent with, as everybdoy and their mother have pointed out by now, Chloƫ Grace Moretz stealing the show as the terrifying yet endearing Hit-Girl. These are talented people at work here people. Sit back and enjoy them excell at their work.

Next there's one thing that I usually don't notice very much when it comes to movies. It's just not my thing. The music in this movie is freaking AWESOME! I can't remember a time when I last sat an enjoyed the music as much as what was going on on the screen. It totally enhanced the experience for me. So yeah... the music's great and I'm considering getting the sound track.

Lastly, I feel that out of all the comic book movies that flood the movie market right now I believe that this one most successfully manages to get a point across. More specifially, it's a point about helping your fellow man when they're in trouble and just doing something good for the world. Dressing up in tights and trying to fight crime might not be the best idea for it. But it's better than nothing you know.

This is a fun movie and I recommend it to just about anybody that doesn't mind some dark stuff and bloody, in relative moderation, violence. And again, the climx is GLORIOUS.

Overall score, 8/10.

Friday, April 9, 2010


And so it is time for another smackering of comic reviews from yours truly. Not change in the title line-up from last month, which is mostly ok since almost all of them kick loads of ass. The sole exception just strengthens my opinion that Brian Bendis is a largely overrated comic book writer. So let's start with that one.


By Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Olivier Copiel (Penciler), Mark Morales (Inker), Laura Martin (Colorist) and Chris Eliopoulos (Letterer)

Review: Last issue of this event was a step up in its direction. I overall enjoyed it. This issue is the opposite and the thing that metaphorically kills it for me are the little things. Things that pretty much display all the problems I have with Bendis as a writer, mainly his seeming inability to do some proper research about the characters he's not used to writing.

It opens strong with a splash page of the Avengers showing up to kick ass and take names while being lead by Steve Rogers. Of course this is mainly attributed to Copiel's beautiful and dynamic art. However, the first nit-pick appears here already. The leader of the Young Avengers, Patriot, expresses disbelif that he is included in the battle-cry "AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!".

That's one line shows that Bendis doesn't understand the character. It's true that Patriot is very proud to be an Avenger and works hard to live up to that name. Because of that he wouldn't doubt even for a second that he is an Avenger. So that line is an out of character moment that just bugs me. For this issue it's just one of many.

The next comes from when Steve Rogers claims to not remember the villain Taskmaster. It's a fairly innocent joke from Bendis about Taskmaster not being worth Steve's time to remember. But considering the fights that they've had in the past and the fact that this is Steve Rogers, one of the most dedicated heroes in Marvel, he wouldn't just forget Taskmaster.

Next moment comes three pages later when the Young Avenger called Speed encounters Maria Hill. Speed is a sort of arrogant, like most speedsters, and has a pretty sharp wit to him. He's not easily impressed, even when faced with two large alien armies. Yet here he acts as a nervous kid when faced with Maria Hill, whom I'm not sure he should recognise. Hill is in character but Speed isn't. If he was written correctly then the scene would've been much more entertaining. And that does it for the character moments.

Next up is the battle that should've been given the main focus, Thor vs. Sentry. Now Thor is the asgardian god of thunder, one of the most powerful Marvel heroes ever, capable of fighting Hulk at his angriest or even heralds of Galactus. Sentry is a man who supposedly boast powers equal to a thousand exploding suns and he's troubled by severe mental problems which makes him a insanely lose cannon at best. A brawl between these two should in short be the stuff of legends and at least deserve three pages of nothing but them beating up each other. What we get is one page and then tiny glimpses of the battle spread out throughout the issue. Disappointing to say the least. But maybe it's for the better since Bendis isn't very good at writing fight scenes at all.

Then there the reveal that Norman Osborn is now sporting a green face to mask his previous persona as the Green Goblin. We never get an explanation to why his face is green other than that it's implied that he's now overcome with insanity. But the serum that turned Norman insane has never turned him green in the past. So it makes no sense.

Then the big problem with the issue is that it seems pretty damn rushed. Norman's supervillain army appears with no forewarning and makes basically no impact to the battle at large, at least with what's shown. The president gives the order to send in the air-force to blow up Norman's HAMMER ships and just like that they show up in the battle. The big event of Sentry running through asgard, sending it plummeting to the ground is handled with an annoying level of brevity, despite the dramatic splash-page.

There is good stuff here though, but they are few. Iron man's appearance on the battlefield was handled nicely. And both Sentry's and Norman's descent into madness is well-paced and gives a good impact to the story. The final page is a good omnious twist. But none of it outweights the negatives.

Overall Score: 3/10


By Jeff Parker (Writer), Wellington Alves (Penciler), Nelson Pereira (Inker), Frank Martin (Colorist) and Comicraft's Albert Deschesne (Letterer)

Review: Ahh, this is much more to my liking. Basically this issue is just an extended fight sequence between the Thunderbolts and the diminished Mighty Avengers in asgard with the war in Siege as a background story.

For those that don't remember. The Thunderbolts have been tasked to steal the spear of Odin and bring it to Norman Osborn and the Avengers have showed up to stop them from doing so.

This was just a freaking fun comic to read with lots of fun interaction between the two teams. The highlight of it all being the fist fight between USAgent and Scrouge/Nuke, both of which consider themselves american patriots but have very different ideals. The dialogue between them is pitch perfect for their established characters and is just as vicious as the actual fight.

Besides them we get a fun confrontation between the young genius Amadeus Cho and the psychotic hitman Mr.X. I'm not all that fond of Cho but it was delightful to see him take out Mr. X the way he did. There's also a confrontation between Stature and Ant-man that does good job of continuing bad blood that exists between these two.

Overall, the fight scenes are excellent, not only in how they're written. Alves does a great job of making the battle feel truly dramatic. It all reaches a great climax as asgard suddenly start falling under their feet and Scrouge finally gets his hands on Odin's spear, turning the tide of the battle drastically.

So yeah, this was a fun issue.

Overall Score: 8/10


By Christos Gage (Writer), Jorge Molina (Penciler), Andrew Hennessy (Inker), Edgar Delgado (Colorist) and VC's Joe Caramagna (Letterer)

Review: Largely an improvement over the previous issue which jumped back and forth too frequently. The dual storyline structure continues in this issue but this time we stay with one story at the time before jumping to the next. This helps the pacing greatly and makes the overall issue more entertaining.

First up is the assault on Camp Hammond by Justice's Secret Avengers which feels more engaging than last time. The opening to this part of the story is a good "Hell YEAH"-moment for the conflicted Night Trasher. As the good guys are winning the Hood uses the norn stones to increase the villains' powers and turning the tide. During this we get the internal monologue from Justice as he anguishes how they're fighting a losing battle and he's lead his remaining friends to their death. The way it's written really sells his despair as he prepares for the end.

This of course makes the following big damn hero moment all the more awesome.

A lot of people hate how Speedball was turned into Penance and they're completely right in doing so. It was just a poorly handled mess. But I've really enjoyed the character progression that has Penance has gone through. He's gone through hell but now he's come through it and is all the stronger for it. It's great writing from Christos Gage. So while it's debateable if it was all worth it at least we can say that this journey will end on a positive note.

There's a pretty clever shift midway into the battle at asgard where we get to see things from Taskmaster's point of view, and a line shows that Steve actually does remember who he is futher proving that Bendis doesn't get the character. While previous issues gave us a good deal of introspective insight for Taskmaster. In this issue however that takes a back step to him taking on the new Captain America in a one on one fight. It's good stuff, both fightwise and dialogue wise between the two.

Lastly we see the continued romance between Diamondback and Constrictor. A sad misunderstanding seperates the two as Sentry hits asgard and everything falls a part around them ending the issue. This is a great cliffhanger. I really want to see how they're gonna get out of this one what drama comes out of it. Gage is great with the drama.

The art is good stuff. Both for the action scenes and the more subtle moments of the issue. Jorge Molina is proving himself to be a versatile artist.

Overall Score: 7/10


By Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning (Writers), Wes Craig (Penciler), Serge Lapointe (Inker), Nathan Fairban (Colorist) and VC's Joe Caramagna (Letterer)

Review: Another fight issue but this time with no ties to Siege, and it freaking kicks ASS!

Phylla, Gamora, Mantis, Major Victory and Cosmo take center stage again as they fight their way through the forces of the universal church of truth to get away from the clutches of Adam Magus.

DnA makes this an intense read with insight into each member presenting how different they all are. At the same time Phylla is contacted by the messanger of the abstract cosmic being that turned her into an avatar of death. It's rather nice to see how the other guardians figure out why Phylla is talking to herself simply because they're exprienced with this all.

As for Phylla. Much of this issue focuses on her and how she's failed as an avatar of death, another failure added to her fairly long list of living up to other people's legacies. I hope that she survies this story arc and comes out of it all as a stronger person with a clear purpose for herself. But that's in the future.

In the sub-plot with the other guardians shielding a political conference the two fan-favorite members, Rocket Raccon and Groot, get their own crowning moments of awesome that I really don't want to spoil here. Also, thanks to Moondragon they now know that Adam Magus is still alive.

In short, this issue is full of heroes kicking ass stuff just being awesome. As par the course for this title.

Oh and the last page. I can just say on thing to that last page without hopefully spoiling it.

He's back and that alone gets another extra point to the overall score.

Overall Score: 9/10.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The gaming experience (GoW3): Finished and confused

And today I beat God of War 3. It was sort of mixed experience really.

I did enjoy the final twists of the last boss fight, even if it was basically the same as the one from the previous game, and the psyhcological stuff at the end of it all was pretty damn cool.

On the other hand. The retcon at the very end was eye-rolling and the ending itself seemed to lack some pizazz. Also I was sort of right to doubt the guide but it was a disappointingly simple revelation in the end.

Over all... I need to discuss the ending with other people before I make up my mind about it.

And Pandora is now definately the most awesome character in this entire franchise.

That's it folks.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The gaming experience (GoW3): The end is nigh... also, what's with the scorpions

So after easter it's just straight back into God of War 3. I'm nearing the end I feel. I can't help but a little disappointed that there haven't been any big monster boss fights. Even if that big guy was the biggest thing I've ever killed in a video game he doesn't count since he was a freaking titan. I do miss the giant monsters like the Hydra and the Kraken from the previous games.

Lucky for me then that I get to fight a giant scorpion... what? It's a fun boss fight and all but what's with people putting giant scorpions in modern pop culture version of greek mythology, there's several of them in the new Clash of the Titans movie (at least in the trailer). I might've missed something but I don't remember any giant scorpions in greek mythology. Oh well, as long as they're entertaining it's ok. Just curious.

But I still wanted to fight Stheno.

I like Pandora. Or at least this interpretation of her. She's a good example of a female character that's cool without having to this badass warrior princess, not that there's anything wrong with those. Her interaction with Kratos and the change he goes through from it is actually very gripping and almost makes him sympathetic. At the very least it makes the stakes that he puts into the quest more complex and interesting.

Now then, the warm-up round with Zeus is over. I can see him waiting for me. Tomorrow I'll kick his ass. Little sad that th final boss is the same as in the previous game but what the hell. I've always wanted to kick Zeus' ass. And hey, the really awe-inspiring background of the world falling into chaos and destruction is a pretty damn badass back-dropp to finish this saga with.

Once I do that I can start posting about something else. Pandora is sort of inspiring.

Until next time, peace out.