Vulcan Stev's Database

It's a BLOG Captain, but not as we know it.

Demotivational Poster: Tasmanian Devil

At least that’s the theory they’ve come up with in place of Global Warming.

April 19, 2011 Posted by | Demotivational Posters, Fluff/Inspiration | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vulcan Stev Family Movie Review: 300


Gerard Butler …  King Leonidas
Lena Headey …  Queen Gorgo
Dominic West …  Theron
David Wenham …  Dilios
Vincent Regan …  Captain
Michael Fassbender …  Stelios
Tom Wisdom …  Astinos
Andrew Pleavin …  Daxos
Andrew Tiernan …  Ephialtes
Rodrigo Santoro …  Xerxes
Giovani Cimmino …  Pleistarchos
Stephen McHattie …  Loyalist
Greg Kramer …  Ephor #1
Alex Ivanovici …  Ephor #2
Kelly Craig …  Oracle Girl

2006 * Warner Bros. * 117 min * R for violent battle scenes some sexuality and nudity

Synopsis from IMDb:  In 480 BC, the Persian king Xerxes sends his massive army to conquer Greece. The Greek city of Sparta houses its finest warriors, and 300 of these soldiers are chosen to meet the Persians at Thermopylae, engaging the soldiers in a narrow canyon where they cannot take full advantage of their numbers. The battle is a suicide mission, meant to buy time for the rest of the Greek forces to prepare for the invasion. However, that doesn’t stop the Spartans from throwing their hearts into the fray, determined to take as many Persians as possible with them.

VS: 1.75 pointed ears.
This movie is filled with violence and as such I do not recommend this for impressionable viewers.  Only you as a parent can determine what is and is not appropriate for your child.  That said, the violence has its place in this film.  This is not a documentary though the broad historical event is authentic.  The violence is stylized and although in your face it is not gratuitous.

The political intrigue portion of the movie seemed to drag at times.  I kinda wish that Mr. Snyder hadn’t been quite so faithful in his adaptation and either dropped the “meanwhile back at the ranch” scenes or expanded on them.

Zach Snyder made a very faithful adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel.  It was this movie that convinced the brass at Warner let Zach helm Watchmen.  His direction on this film fit the style of the movie.  I’m not a big fan of violence for violence sake, but here it seemed appropriate.

P.I.T. #2 – 1.5 pointed ears
The fact that Hollywood made a movie about the march of the 300 Spartans was cool.  However the amount of nudity could’ve been toned down.  The violence was a little more than I like but appropriate for what was being portrayed.

P.I.T. #3 – 1.8 pointed ears
This is a very good movie.  There are lots of nice action.  There’s also some kissing and female nudity which I don’t like in a movie.

Overall 5.05 pointed ears out 6.  This is definitely a violent movie.  Only you can determine the appropriate level suitable for viewing in your household.  Beautifully shot, faithfully adapted, and artfully done.  Recommended with reservations.

April 19, 2010 Posted by | Movie Reviews, Movies | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vulcan Stev Family Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes

Warner Bros. – 128 mins – PG-13

 Robert Downey Jr. …  Sherlock Holmes
 Jude Law …  Dr. John Watson
 Rachel McAdams …  Irene Adler
 Mark Strong …  Lord Blackwood
 Eddie Marsan …  Inspector Lestrade
 Robert Maillet …  Dredger
 Geraldine James …  Mrs. Hudson
 Kelly Reilly …  Mary Morstan
 William Houston …  Constable Clark
 Hans Matheson …  Lord Coward
 James Fox …  Sir Thomas
 William Hope …  Ambassador Standish
 Clive Russell …  Captain Tanner
 Oran Gurel …  Reordan
 David Garrick …  McMurdo

Synopsis from IMDb:  After finally catching serial killer and occult “sorcerer” Lord Blackwood, legendary sleuth Sherlock Holmes and his assistant Dr. Watson can close yet another successful case. But when Blackwood mysteriously returns from the grave and resumes his killing spree, Holmes must take up the hunt once again. Contending with his partner’s new fiancée and the dimwitted head of Scotland Yard, the dauntless detective must unravel the clues that will lead him into a twisted web of murder, deceit, and black magic – and the deadly embrace of temptress Irene Adler.

VS: 1.9 pointed ears
I am not a Sherlock Holmes fan.  I ‘ve read maybe one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels.  I am familiar enough with the character that I know the basics.  From what I remember of the Holmes canon, this movie is a faithful interpretation of the character right down to Holmes’ use of cocaine (inferred in a scene but not mentioned on screen and my reason for a point 1 reduction).  That said I was sufficiently intrigued by the trailers to put this movie on my “See it if it comes to Grundy” list (Grundy being our local dollar theater).  I was not disappointed.  I enjoyed this film from start to finish.  The violence is not gratuitous and is used to depict Holmes’ analytical mind in more than one scene.  19th century London looked appropriately gritty and smog infested.  Given the state of special effects that shouldn’t surprise me but it did look nice.  I was also pleasantly surprised to find that Mrs VS enjoyed the movie (but I’ll let her tell why in her section).

Robert Downey Jr. played Holmes to the nines.  Never did I see a hint of Tony Stark, too often when I go to see a film I can be distracted by seeing too much of an actor’s previous performance.  Downey gave life to a character who could well be an ancestor of Tony Stark without calling on the previous character. 

I also failed to see the supposed “gay subtext” in this movie.  I suspect that blog rumors and pronouncements of the former  are from people who are over analyzing everything.   This movie goes in the DVD collection when it is released.

Mrs. VS: 1.5 pointed ears
This was a fairly decent movie.  The scenery was appropriate to the era being depicted.  It is not a good-looking movie, but then 19th century London was not a beautiful place.  I happen to like murder mysteries (ed note I didn’t know that) and this movie was rousing good mystery.  The man bursting into flames was a little gratuitous but understandable given the aspirations of the villain.

Pvt. B.
rating coming

PIT #2: 2 pointed ears
This movie is the best movie of 2010 (OK it’s only February but it’s STILL a good movie).  This movie took everything that I knew about Sherlock Holmes and put it up on the screen.   You can be a complete Sherlock noob and still enjoy this movie.

PIT #3: 2 pointed ears
This movie rocked.  I didn’t see a single kissing scene.  Although there were no car chases, I understand that is because the automobile had not been invented in Holmes’ time (though we did get to see a large ship sink).

Overall 7.4 out of 8 ears

Families be warned the PG-13 rating is earned for depictions of (legal) drug use, depictions of cultic rituals and minor language.

Definitely a must-see if you get the chance.

February 17, 2010 Posted by | Movie Reviews, Movies | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Vulcan Stev Family Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Daniel Radcliffe …  Harry Potter
Rupert Grint …  Ron Weasley
Emma Watson …  Hermione Granger
Jim Broadbent …  Professor Horace Slughorn
Elarica Gallacher …  Waitress
Robbie Coltrane …  Rubeus Hagrid
Michael Gambon …  Professor Albus Dumbledore
Maggie Smith …  Professor Minerva McGonagall
Alan Rickman …  Professor Severus Snape
Bonnie Wright …  Ginny Weasley
James Phelps …  Fred Weasley
Oliver Phelps …  George Weasley
Julie Walters …  Molly Weasley
Mark Williams …  Arthur Weasley
David Thewlis …  Remus Lupin

Synopsis: In the sixth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft, and in both wizard and muggle worlds Lord Voldemort and his henchmen are increasingly active. With vacancies to fill at Hogwarts, Professor Dumbledor persuades Horace Slughorn, back from retirement to become the potions teacher, while Professor Snape receives long awaited news. Harry Potter, together with Dumbledore, must face treacherous tasks to defeat his evil nemesis.

Reviewers: Vulcan Stev, Mrs. VS, PIT #1/Pvt Spartan, PIT #2, PIT #3

Vulcan Stev: 1.4 pointed ears
I have never read any of the Harry Potter books.  When my children complain about things the movie left out of the previous novels, it usually didn’t matter much to me.  The movies have, to this point, been able to stand on their own.  HPatHBP is the first time that I, as a non-reader of the novels, could sense something was missing.  Don’t get me wrong, the movie was still enjoyable.  There was just to much unexplained.  Harry’s being forced to give up the textbook seemed, from my vantage point, to be more jealousy from his fellow students than it was a necessity to get rid of the book.  The whole sub-plot of the hor-cruxes seemed to be given short shrift.

Warner Bros. determined that it would be impossible to do adequate justice to the Deathly Hallows in one 2-hour movie.  After watching HBP, I wonder if they shouldn’t have done the same thing with book six.  How hard would it have been to film HBP as a two-parter release part one at Memorial Day and then part two at Labor Day.

Mrs. VS: 1.4 pointed ears
This movie was a little confusing.  I had a difficult time following parts of this story.  The part of the story where Harry is attacked in the cave was VERY creepy.

Pvt Spartan/PIT #1: 1.5 pointed ears
Watching this movie without my family was a bittersweet experience.  This was a good movie but a terrible adaptation.  Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a very misleading title.  The book is more about the discovery of Voldemort’s horcruxes and setting up lots of things for the final book.  There is lots of underplay relational issues that are left out of the movie.

Non-readers of the books might be confused by this movie.

PIT #2: 1.7 pointed ears
The was a decent movie.  However the producers tried to cram wa-a-ay to much stuff into a two and a half hour movie.  What I’ve read of the book, it should have been turned into 2 two-hour movies at least.

PIT #3: 1.4 pointed ears
In addition to all the kissing (yecch!) this movie left out a lot of the novel it was adapting.  The parts they did film where done nicely.  I didn’t like the fact that the movie showed an attack on the Weasleys.  Daddy explained that it probably was done to lump all the attacks by the Death Eaters into one attack that mattered.  All in all a decent movie.

7.4 pointed ears out of 10.

The overall consensus of the VS family that this movie was too short for the material was trying to cover.  If you own the first five you’ll definitely be owning this one as well.  This film is a little too intense for younger viewers without parental supervision.

September 12, 2009 Posted by | Movie Reviews, Movies | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Vulcan Stev Family Movie Review: Tales of the Black Freighter

Two videos on one DVD. So you get a two-for-one review:
tales_of_the_black_freighter_dvdTales of the Balck Freighter
Gerard Butler …  The Sea Captain (voice)
Cam Clarke …  Money Lender (voice)
Siobhan Flynn …  Sea Captain’s Daughter (voice)
Jared Harris …  Ridley (voice)
Salli Saffioti …  Sea Captain’s Daughter (voice)
Lori Tritel …  Sea Captain’s Wife (voice)

Under the Hood
Jay Brazeau …  Bernard / News Vendor
Frank Cassini …  Lawrence Shexnayder
Glenn Ennis …  Hooded Justice
Matt Frewer …  Edgar Jacobi / Moloch the Mystic
Ted Friend …  Larry Culpeper
Carla Gugino …  Sally Jupiter / Silk Spectre
Erik Johnson …  Commercial Narrator (voice)
Rob LaBelle …  Wally Weaver
Niall Matter …  Mothman
Stephen McHattie …  Hollis Mason / Nite Owl
Jeffrey Dean Morgan …  Edward Blake / The Comedian
Dan Payne …  Dollar Bill
Darryl Scheelar …  Captain Metropolis
William Taylor …  William Long
Apollonia Vanova …  Silhouette

Reviewers: VS, PIT #2, PIT #3

TotBF – .75 pointed ears
A very nicely animated, true to the source material, cartoon sequence.  Therein lies part of my problem with this sequence.  I didn’t care for the comic-within-the-comic.  The cartoon is rated R and rightly so.  It is graphic in it’s outlook and tone and not suitable for kids.  The subject matter, while an interesting counterpoint to the comic it appears in, seems out of place when excerpted into its own format.  It is a very dark and depressing storyline and is NOT suitable for children.  Watching this portion made me regret

UtH – 1.8 pointed ears.
The saving grace for this DVD.  The Culpepper Minute provides a lot of backstory to the movie.  Most of the complaints I saw on the boards from the general public about the Watchmen movie would’ve been answered by watching this video first.  The producers did a very nice job of translating straight text into a engaging video production.

PIT #2
TotBF – .5 pointed ears
Nice animation, that’s the only good thing about this cartoon.  The entire story was overly gory and pointless

UtH – 1.5 pointed ears
The background information contained in this video was a nice addition to the movie.  I can’t wait to watch Watchmen on DVD again.

PIT #3
TotBF – .5 pointed ears
When I dislike a Pirate movie  you know it’s bad.  I don’t recommend this cartoon at all.  The fact that it’s about pirates is the only redeeming feature.  The song playing over the credits was annoying as well.

UtH – 1 pointed ear
This movie gave us a lot of background info about the Watchmen.  I wish I had seen this before Daddy took us to see the Watchmen.

Overall: TotBF – 1.75 out of 6 pointed ears :: UtH 4.3 pointed ears out of 6
This DVD comes recommended for Watchman fans or for those planning on buying or renting the Watchmen DVD, with reservations.  The Under the Hood segments provides a backstory only hinted at in the opening credits of the motion picture.  The Tales of the Black Freighter segment is there for the purists, if you enjoyed that portion of the graphic novel you will enjoy the cartoon.

Bonus material: the first issue of the Watchmen comic is presented in an animated.  This DVD is 2/3 recommended.

June 27, 2009 Posted by | Movie Reviews, Movies | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Vulcan Stev Family Movie Review: Lethal Weapon

Mel Gibson …  Sergeant Martin Riggs
Danny Glover …  Sergeant Roger Murtaugh
Gary Busey …  Mr. Joshua
Mitchell Ryan …  General Peter McAllister
Tom Atkins …  Michael Hunsaker
Darlene Love …  Trish Murtaugh
Traci Wolfe …  Rianne Murtaugh
Jackie Swanson …  Amanda Hunsaker
Damon Hines …  Nick Murtaugh
Ebonie Smith …  Carrie Murtaugh
Bill Kalmenson …  Beat Cop
Lycia Naff …  Dixie

Synopsis from IMDb: Los Angeles police sergeant Roger Murtaugh, who has just turned 50 years old, is assigned to investigate the death of Amanda Hunsaker, a prostitute who is one of the daughters of bank president Michael Hunsaker, a friend whom Roger has known since they were in the Vietnam War together, but Roger hasn’t seen Michael in 12 years. Beginning with this investigation, Roger is assigned a new partner Sergeant Martin Riggs, who has been suicidal ever since his wife Victoria “Vicky” Lynn Riggs died in a car crash in 1984. Riggs and Murtaugh’s investigation of Amanda’s death reveals that she was murdered. Upon hearing of this, Michael tells Murtaugh that he would like for whoever is behind Amanda’s murder to end up dead, like Amanda. Riggs and Murtaugh’s investigation continues and it makes them the targets of Shadow Company, a group of former Vietnam War era mercenaries who now bring heroin into the Los Angeles County region. Shadow Company’s leader, General Peter McAllister, and his right hand man, Mr. Joshua, want Riggs and Murtaugh dead, no matter what the cost

Reviewers: VS, PIT #1, PIT #2, PIT #3

VS – 1.75 pointed ears
Rated “R” when it first came out it is pretty tame by today’s standards.  Use of the “F”-bomb, drug use and some nudity this movie may not be suitable for your younger viewers.  The story, plot, and action still holds up 22 years later.  However, my kids were momentarily taken right out of the movie when Sgt Murtaugh uses his bag phone.  The backstory is a little dated as well.  When the characters mentioned “the war”, the PITs asked if they meant Iraq.  This is not the first buddy cop movie, but it is one of the best.

PIT #1 – 2 pointed ears
This movie did not need the items added to pad it out for an ‘R’ rating.  The language and nudity were unnecessary.

PIT #2 – 1.9 pointed ears
Riggs’ fighting style rocks.  That action sequence made the movie worthwhile.  I’d like to be trained in the crazy, ninja martial arts that Riggs knows.

PIT #3 – 1.5 pointed ears
I did not like the swearing and lack of clothing in the opening sequence.  The story about taking down drug dealers was pretty good.

7.15 pointed ears out of 8
With a few simple edits this film could’ve been more family friendly.  However, this is a nice mindless action flick.  Enjoyable enough if this genre is to your liking.  Only you can determine appropriate levels of language and violence for your audience.

May 18, 2009 Posted by | Movie Reviews | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vulcan Stev’s family movie review: Watchmen

Malin Akerman …  Laurie Jupiter / Silk Spectre II
Billy Crudup …  Dr. Manhattan / Jon Osterman
Matthew Goode …  Adrian Veidt / Ozymandias
Jackie Earle Haley …  Walter Kovacs / Rorschach
Jeffrey Dean Morgan …  Edward Blake / The Comedian
Patrick Wilson …  Dan Dreiberg / Nite Owl II
Carla Gugino …  Sally Jupiter / Silk Spectre
Matt Frewer …  Edgar Jacobi / Moloch the Mystic
Stephen McHattie …  Hollis Mason / Nite Owl
Laura Mennell …  Janey Slater

Synopsis from IMDb: An adaptation of Alan Moore’s landmark comic book series, “Watchmen” is set in an alternate 1985 America in which costumed superheroes are part of the fabric of everyday society, and the “Doomsday Clock” – which charts the USA’s tension with the Soviet Union – is permanently set at five minutes to midnight. When one of his former colleagues is murdered, the washed up but no less determined masked vigilante Rorschach sets out to uncover a plot to kill and discredit all past and present superheroes. As he reconnects with his former crime-fighting legion – a ragtag group of retired superheroes, only one of whom has true powers – Rorschach glimpses a wide-ranging and disturbing conspiracy with links to their shared past and catastrophic consequences for the future. Their mission is to watch over humanity… but who is watching the Watchmen?

Reviewers: VS, PIT#1, PIT#2, PIT#3.  Mrs VS stayed home as she KNEW she wouldn’t like this movie, she was right.
*Note* PITs 1&2 are teenagers, PIT#3 is 10 and had Daddy’s permission to come see this movie as long as he sat next to Daddy and did not object to having his eyes covered at parts Daddy deemed to excessive.

VS: – 1.75 pointed ears
FIrst let me state that I am not some rabid fanboy worshipping at the ‘holy writ’ of Alan Moore.  I have read the graphic novel and enjoyed it immensely.  Was Watchmen a groundbreaking comic for its time? yes.  Was it unfilmable by the technology at the time? yes.  Did Zach Snyder make an equitable film adaptation of the novel? yes.  Will it appeal to the average filmgoer? probably not given the way it was advertised.

There were changes obvious to anyone who has read the graphic novel.  To anyone who has not read the comic the changes do not detract from the storyline at all.  If, as I clearly indicate, I think that Mr. Snyder pulled off what many deemed as impossible, just why did I give it the rating that I did?

First the violence, although present in the source material, was overdone for my tastes.  We did not need to see bones breaking, hatchets cleaving, and bullets penetrating to make this movie.  The comic has these events occuring outside the panel borders.  Clever angles and editing could have conveyed the violence without being quite so graphic.  Second, Dr Manhattan’s well …ah anatomy.  There was, to my recollection, ONE scene that showed full frontal in the book and Doc M. was not so well endowed, clearly average in the book.  It was distracting.  Third, the soundtrack.  I realize Mr. Snyder was trying to provide generational hooks by using songs from the appropriate era depicted, but seriously 99 Luft Balloons?

As I write this I’m also reading a news story that Watchmen’s box office earnings have dropped 71% from opening weekend.  Our experience bears this out, the theater was 3/4 empty when watched the 2:00pm show.  Why?  in my opinion it’s because the studio mis-marketed this movie.  Audiences not familiar withthe graphic novel were lead to believe they were getting this year’s Iron Man or The Dark Knight.  What they got was a over-violent murder mystery set in a world with costumed adventurers.  I blame the studio system for this.  Audiences did not get what they were lead to expect.  The fallout is that Hollywood is going to blame the director, script and source material rather than themselves.  The suits are not going to see this as a marketing failure but rather, “We listened to the director about sticking to the source material and look what happened.”  As a result we’re going to see more “Hollywoodized” adaptations in the future.

What did the director get right?  Cutting out the annoying ‘comic-within-a-comic’, losing some of the subplots and the change to the ending although criticized by some was entirely believeable and served the same purpose.  Zach Snyder did the best job he could without making a 5-hour mini-series.  His attention to detail was obvious, I’m looking forward to the director’s cut. 

PIT#1: – 1.9 pointed ears
Dad tried to give us a background tutorial into the Watchmen without revealing the plot twist at the end.  He had read some reviews were people stated that they had a hard time following the story plot-line.  Dad’s explanation confused me, the movie did not.  This movie requires you to pay attention.  You are not spoon-fed the plot you are required to think.  Kudos to Zach Snyder for not caving to studio demands.

Was the violence excessive? yes in my opinion.  To much was shown graphically that didn’t need to be shown.  I won’t reveal what but if you’ve seen the movie you’ll understand which scenes I’m talking about.  This movie is not for the squeamish.  It’s not a hack-fest like Friday the 13th but the violence was still too over-the-top.  The sex scene made me uncomfortable.

PIT#2: – 1.7 pointed ears
Dad confused me as well with his explanation.  After I saw the movie I understood what Dad was talking about but I had no trouble following the movie.  If you’re expecting a standard Super Hero flick go rent Iron Man.  If you want to watch a whodunnit with plenty of action then go see Watchmen.  The violence got out-of-hand at times.  They could’ve easily shot this movie as a PG-13 without changing one bit of the plot.  All it would’ve taken was a few judicous edits.

PIT#3: – 1.7 pointed ears
Daddy tried to make me cover my eyes at the icky parts.  I did see the man’s arm break and that was disgusting.   I closed my eyes when the kissing and sex were on the screen.  This is NOT a super hero movie.  It’s a mystery that has heroes in it.  This movie would’ve been nicer on the small screen (at least for me).  I enjoyed the movie and I’m happy Daddy took me, but the director could’ve left out some stuff.

7.05 pointed ears out of 8
Be forewarned that the violence in this movie IS excessive.  Only you can determine what is appropriate for your family.  Be forewarned that this is NOT a super hero movie in the tone of Iron Man, Spider-Man, or even The Dark Knight.  This is a murder mystery set in a world of costumed adventurers.  Pay attention when watching this film you can’t be mindless with this flick, the story does not take you by the hand.

Watchable (with reservations).  I plan on buying the Director’s cut DVD.

March 16, 2009 Posted by | Comic Books, DC, Movie Reviews | , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Vulcan Stev Family Movie Review: Batman Begins

Christian Bale …  Bruce Wayne / Batman
Michael Caine …  Alfred
Liam Neeson …  Henri Ducard
Katie Holmes …  Rachel Dawes
Gary Oldman …  Jim Gordon
Cillian Murphy …  Dr. Jonathan Crane
Tom Wilkinson …  Carmine Falcone
Rutger Hauer …  Earle
Ken Watanabe …  Ra’s Al Ghul
Mark Boone Junior …  Flass
Linus Roache …  Thomas Wayne
Morgan Freeman …  Lucius Fox
Larry Holden …  Finch
Gerard Murphy …  Judge Faden
Colin McFarlane …  Loeb

Synopsis from IMDb: In tone with the early “Batman: Year One” style comics. As a boy a young Bruce Wayne watched in horror as his millionaire parents were slain in front of his eyes, a trauma which led him to become obsessed with revenge but his chance is cruelly taken away from him by fate. After disappearing to the East where he seeks counsel with the dangerous but honorable ninja cult leader known as Ra’s Al-Ghul, he returns to his now decaying Gotham City overrun by organized crime and dangerous individuals manipulating the system whilst the company he inherited is slowly being pulled out from under him. The discovery of a cave under his mansion, and a prototype armored suit leads him to take on a new persona, one which will strike fear into the hearts of men who do wrong – he becomes, Batman. In the new guise, and with the help of rising cop Jim Gordon, Batman sets out to take down the various nefarious schemes in motion by individuals such as mafia don Falcone, the twisted doctor/drug dealer Jonathan ‘The Scarecrow’ Crane, and a mysterious third party that is quite familiar with Wayne and waiting to strike when the time is right.

Reviewers: VS, PIT #1, PIT #2, PIT #3

VS: 1.95 pointed ears
This is THE definitive Batman movie.  The Dark Knight would not have been made had this movie not striven for the greatness it achieved.  Gone is the camp of Adam West’s portrayal.  Gone is the overly dark tone of Tim Burton’s take on the franchise.  Chris Nolan has taken the franchise and portrayed Gothan City as realplace on the Eastern seaboard.  Batman is equal parts concerned do-gooder and avenging crusader.  Christian Bale got it right playing Batman as the person and Bruce Wayne as the mask.

This movie takes the entire scope of the Batman mythos and uses it to color the world.  Batman fans caught the subtle nuances scattered throughout.  Alfred and Lucious Fox are active participants in Batman’s war on crime.  I only have two complaints.  The first was in all of the attention to detail the writer made Henri Ducard and Ra’s al Ghul the same person.  The Batman geek in me screams internally every time I watch that particular bit.  The other is Ra’s is using a microwave emitter to vaporize the water supply?  Why aren’t the people standing next to the emitter suddenly dehydrating?  I can forgive Mr Zsasz’s lack of scars as he is clothed in this movie and his scars could very well be covered under the clothing.

PIT #1: 2 pointed ears
Batman for the 21st century.  A plausible explanation for why Bruce Wayne behaves as he does.  You don’t need to be a fan of the comic to get this movie.  There’s enough there to please the Batman geeks, but not so much as to confuse the average viewer.  I like this version of Batman better than the Batman movies of the 90’s

PIT #2: 2 pointed ears
An absolutely great re-boot to Batman.  The Batman movie before this nearly killed the film franchise off completely.  This movie should set up a nice long series of films.

PIT #3: 1.95 pointed ears
This movie rocks.  The action is nearly non-stop.  There’s no kissing until the very end.  Cop cars go flying everywhere and they crash a train.  What more can you ask for?  I do want to know why Batman’s trainer and Darth Vader’s trainer are the same person.

7.9 pointed ears out of 8.   Chris Nolan succeeds in rebooting the Bat-franchise.  Christian Bale succeeds in portraying a watchable Batman.

March 13, 2009 Posted by | Comic Books, DC, Movie Reviews | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Vulcan Stev Family Movie Review: Superman IV


Christopher Reeve …  Superman / Clark Kent
Gene Hackman …  Lex Luthor / Voice of Nuclear Man
Jackie Cooper …  Perry White
Marc McClure …  Jimmy Olsen
Jon Cryer …  Lenny
Sam Wanamaker …  David Warfield
Mark Pillow …  Nuclear Man
Mariel Hemingway …  Lacy Warfield
Margot Kidder …  Lois Lane

Synopsis from IMDb: Superman does a lot in his newest adventure. Arch villain Lex Luthor, determined to make the world safe for nuclear arms merchants, creates a new being to challenge the Man of Steel: the radiation-charged Nuclear Man. The two super-powered foes clash in an explosive screen extravaganza that sees Superman save the Statue of Liberty, repulse a volcanic eruption of Mount Etna, rebuild the demolished Great Wall of China and perform many more spectacular feats.

Reviewers: VS, PIT#1, PIT #2, PIT #3

VS – .5 pointed ears
The problem with Superman is that he only has two weaknesses (three if count a writer’s inability to come up with plausible movie that the average person would understand) and one major villain.  Superman’s vulnerability to Kryptonite becomes boring when used over and over and downright stupid when misused (see Superman III).  Superman’s vulnerability to magic is probably not something the producer’s of the movie want to deal with.  Lex Luthor works best as villain as a manipulator of events, one of the few things that Superman IV did well.

The idea of a “super”man/god on Earth trying to fit in with his adopted home is something that the comics deal with on a regular basis.  QFP did not succeed in its attempt to cover the same ground.  Superman displays some rather unique abilities in this film, Super-hypnosis (kissing Lois to make her forget), Super-telekinesis (putting the Great Wall back together).  Physics takes a beating in this movie when Superman is able to talk in space and carry the Statue of Liberty by the tablets without it breaking or bending.

The main problem with adapting comic book heroes to the big screen is that a comic book has approximately 24 pages per month to set up subplots, villain backstory, and motivation.  A two hour movie is not always the best media for an ongoing character.  The script for this movie was too ambitious for the time allotted.  People expect a certain amount of action in a super hero movie.  Superman’s internal struggles with being a god among men is good drama when done correctly but makes for lousy action.  This movie didn’t even do a decent job of portraying the internal struggle.

Given the less than stellar script, the hookiness of the villian ( a clone of Superman would’ve made for a GREAT Bizarro as in John Byrne’s “Man of Steel”), and the funky abilities, this movie deserved to die a foul death at the box office.  The one good thing that came from Superman IV is that its box office failure kept the Cannon Group from making an equally crappy Spider-Man movie.

PIT #1 – 0 pointed ears (can I give it a negative rating?)
This movie made no sense.  There are cuts in the movie that felt like the producers left important scenes on the cutting room floor, either that or the script was poorly written.  Superman had some pretty strange powers in this movie as well.

PIT #2 – .01 pointed ears (actually I wanted to give 1/1,000,000th of a pointed ear but Dad insisted on as few zeroes as possible)
The idea behind the script was a good idea but the execution was pretty poorly done.

PIT #3 – 0 pointed ears
This movie did a good impersonation of a Hoover vaccuum cleaner.  It sucked, Daddy.  Why was Superman able to repair the Great Wall of China by waving his hand? 

.51 pointed ears out of 8.
I got this movie out of the $5 bin at Wal-Mart only because our local video store didn’t have it to rent and my kids didn’t believe me when I told them this was a lousy movie.  “Dad it’s Superman, how bad could it be?”  You can see from the ratings, that they now agree with me.  Don’t buy this movie unless you’re a completest and have all the other Superman titles in your collection.  Don’t waste your time on this flick.  Seriously, it’s not even a “good” bad movie (like Attack of the Killer Tomatoes).

March 3, 2009 Posted by | Comic Books, DC, Movie Reviews | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Gaming in the Universe of: Harry Potter


Database reviews for:
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

If anyone knows about a pencil and paper Harry Potter RPG, please let me know.  My Google-fu may not be as good as yours and I didn’t find a single RPG.  I did find well over 100 individual fan-based online games but not a single die-rolling version.  My first question is why?  Harry Potter is the best selling children’s series of the 21st century.  Warner Bros. is desperately trying to figure out how to make Harry Potter 9.  I can’t imagine that no one has thought of of an RPG set in Rowling’s universe.

How would I incorporate the Harry Potter universe into an RPG scenario?  The series is tailor made to be picked up and dropped in toto into any Sword and Sorcery fantasy (you know, that system that Hasbro is issuing cease and desist orders to blogs for even mentioning the name of their intellectual property) game without any alterations, just file off the serial numbers.  Without much alteration it would fit well into a space fantasy setting as well.  Imagine Dumbledore as Yoda and you see what I’m getting at.

Putting Harry Potter into a hard science fiction RPG (Star Trek, Stargate, Firefly) is a little more problematic.  My solution to this would be to replace the “magic” with “science”.  Examples of this would be; broomstick flying with anti-gravity piloting skills, alohamora –replaced with some sort of lockpicking device.

I’m not sure how much mileage a GM could get out of Hogwart’s setting.  Playing the characters themselves would be fun for younger children but not so much for teens and groganards.  Setting some kind of mystery or quest at Hogwarts would work well for an adventure but I think an entire campaign set there would wear on your players after a while.

Savage World stats for:
*note* these stats are average only, abilities and skills should be adjusted according to the year being played

harrypotterHarry Potter: Seasoned
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d8, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d10
Skills: Fighting d6, Guts d8, Investigation d6, Knowledge (Magic) d6, Notice d8, Persuasion d4, Stealth d4, Streetwise d4, Survival d4
Charisma +4; Pace 6, Parry 5, Toughness 7
Fame +45 (His name is known and his face is more recognizable as the years progress)
Hindrances: Enemy – Lord Voldemort, Heroic, Branded (unlike the PotSM Hindrance this increased his fame), Outsider (the degree of which decreases depending on what year you’re playing the characters, Harry can be clueless about some things in his world because of outsider status), add the hindrance of Young if playing first or second year
Edges: Arcane Background (Magic), Beast Bond, Inspire (only after 5th year), Filthy Rich, New Power, Wizard, Hard to Kill
Gear:Includes his wand, his broomstick, a cloak of invisibility (after 1st year), and an enchanted map that shows the location of others (after third year)

hermioneHermione Granger: Seasoned
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d10, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d4, Guts d4, Investigation d6, Knowledge (Magic) d8, Notice d8, Persuasion d6, Stealth d4, Streetwise d4, Survival d4
Charisma +4; Pace 6, Parry 4, Toughness 5
Fame + 10
Hindrances: Curious, Heroic, Loyal
Edges: Arcane Background (Magic), New Power, Charismatic, Alertness, Beast Master, Wizard
Gear: Broomstick, Wand

ron_weasley1Ronald Weasley: Seasoned
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d4, Guts d4, Investigation d6, Knowledge (Magic) d8, Notice d8, Persuasion d6, Stealth d4, Streetwise d4, Survival d4
Charisma +4; Pace 6, Parry 4, Toughness 5
Fame + 10
Hindrances: Poverty, Heroic, Loyal, Fear of Spiders
Edges: Arcane Background (Magic), New Power, Beast Master, Wizard
Gear: Broomstick, Wand

dumbledoreDumbledore: Legendary
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d12+3, Spirit d12, Strength d6, Vigor d12+1
Skills: Fighting d10, Guts d8, Intimidate d10+1, Knowledge (Magic) d12+3, Notice d10, Persuasion d10, Stealth d10, Streetwise, d8+1, Survival d8, 
Charisma +10; Pace 6, Parry 7, Toughness 8
Fame +75
Hindrances: Code of Honor, Loyal, Heroic, Pacifist (minor)
Edges: Arcane background, Champion, Beast Master, Power Surge, New Power, Imp Rapid Recharge, Wizard, Hard to Kill
Gear:Has access to nearly any magical artifact the GM determines.

March 2, 2009 Posted by | Fluff/Inspiration, Gaming in the Universe of..., Gaming Notes, Other Systems, RPG | , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments