Category: Pop Culture


So the latest episode in my apparent series of nondramatic dreams about celebrities I have never met (and have no idea what they are really like in person), I chanced upon Laura Prepon in a small, local supermarket.

The setting was especially weird because the store layout was not one I was familiar with (as in I’d never been into this particular supermarket before). I assumed I was travelling in the USA (because of course).

Anyway…Laura Prepon walked past, minding her own business, but was dressed in full Alex Vause costume (because of course actors ALWAYS get around town in their character’s costume…especially when it’s a prison uniform 🤔). She was chatting to the shop keeper as she went.

As she came back past me with her milk, I smiled and told her how wonderful she is in Orange is the New Black and how much CC & I were enjoying the show (as in a lot).

She gave me a fleeting, exasperated glance and hurried to the counter to pay.

I shrugged and woke up.

Clearly I was in the supermarket to buy consciousness.

— IEK

image

So I was lucky enough to have my amazing colleagues in China take me out to see The Force Awakens today. Today was opening day for the latest Star Wars installment in China, but as many of you already know, this was my 3rd time.

Well, apparently China is receiving The Force Awakens only in 3D or Imax – no standard format.

I am SO GLAD that I was able to enjoy the film in Australia (twice) in standard format because despite me already loving this film – 3D is total shit.

I put on my 3D glasses (which clipped over my specs) & enjoyed the first interior shot of Stormtroopers – it looked cool with 3D – but then I got used to it, the image periodically split, fucking up the experience for me & nothing else in the film looked particularly interesting in 3D. Also I got a bit of a headache. Just small, but seriously – people are paying good money for a headache.

So here’s the rub: Movie studios began to pump money into 3D again in the mid-00s because A) they finally worked out how to make it with correct colour & B) 3D makes it harder for pirates to screencap the film.

BUT THEY NEED TO STOP IT.

Seriously – making movies in 3D to combat piracy is like Coca Cola making their flagship drink taste like someone shat in it to prevent people making cola.

Eventually we’ll stop drinking.

Until we can watch a 3D experience with our regular eyes, I do not want to ever attend another 3D screening of anything. And I know there are a bunch of people with me – especially those who get serious headaches from 3D like Co-Consul does.

Just like the 80s, 3D is not going to happen – stop trying to pretend it will.

— IEK

heroes_smallAs I rapidly approach the day when I will be seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens for the 3rd time at the cinema (yep. 3rd time), with still some distance from the first two times, I am inspired to write some kind of review/observation/rabid hate-fest/sickening love-fest of the film.

First off, let me say – I really enjoyed it. It was better than I had anticipated and I’d watched every single trailer at least four times before setting foot in a cinema for the big dance. I think in some way the hype for the film and the build-up of excitement not only for me, but for our 3 kids as the release date approached, made the experience that much more enjoyable.

Being a little worried about whether the film would be too violent for our kids, Co-Consul and I decided to go along to a night session on the 17th (RELEASE DAY!) before the kids and I went to a morning session on the 18th (ANNUAL LEAVE DAY FOR STAR WARS!). It was a good decision, as there were a few bits that should concern parents. Although there is no blood or gore, people are killed pretty frequently in the film and in at least two of these killing/murder scenes, it’s very obvious that the victims are innocent and unarmed. This may not make any difference to some (in that they abhor all violence), but to me this made all the difference and I ensured our 3 kids were primed with the understanding that 1) this is a movie & not real and 2) that nobody ever dies forever in movies or comics: it’s just one of those unwritten laws.

With that, we gathered our lightsabers, 6yo packed up her star puffs (thanks, Grandma) and we headed off to see THE NEW STAR WARS (me for the second time).

Having seen it already once, I was able to sit back from the spectacle (which is, let me assure you, VERY spectacular) and see the film with a more critical eye. My first viewing was coloured with a reminiscence that I think most of us who grew up with Star Wars, Empire and Jedi will have felt. The Force Awakens feels (as Han said in the trailer every time we watched it) like you’ve come home. There have been many criticisms of the film that it is a carbon copy of A New Hope and, while I absolutely see the point (because it’s true), I just don’t give a shit. A New Hope was brilliant and so is The Force Awakens – formula fiction at its absolute best.

My main gripe with the film…

**SPOILER ALERT NOW – stop here if you haven’t seen it. Also if you haven’t seen it – WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!?!
View full article »

bop_searchSo far the new writing regime (as detailed in This Blog is Somewhat the Victim of Fear) is going at a level I will call “well”. I have revised five complete chapters since I wrote down my intentions and started back into my novel Bifrost (4 weeks now) and I am VERY eager to get into the next few chapters which are some of my favourites in the novel (and yet still need some serious revising).

The only exception to my new regime’s success is 5am Writers Club which former or present member can attest is a very challenge club in which to stay a member!! Continue to either sleep through or turn off my alarm. But tomorrow’s another day!

This renewed desire to get things done on my novel is a welcome change to the rut I was in leading up to and whilst I was on our awesome holiday to LEGOLand and some other place I forget*. It made me wonder to myself as I was sweeping the kitchen floor the other night: what the hell has changed recently? Why do I suddenly have the drive to write?

I went over the weeks leading up to the holiday: nothing special, was getting a bit stale at work (needed a holiday), was reading books, was thinking about football a lot. Maybe that was it – maybe it was football. But then it was still football season back in March when I was KILLING it on Bifrost and actually finished the damn thing. So what is it?

Then I realised – back in mid-late 2014, after consuming all the Guardians of the Galaxy I could handle I’d decided to go and read a bunch of comic backissues which covered some of the seminal story arcs in comic history that I’d (for whatever reason) never read: The Infinity Gauntlet, The Mark Waid run on The Flash, Spider-Man: Maximum Carnage – that sort of thing. I was reading comics every night (and on public transport)…(and whenever I got time) and I was super-vibed about geting work done on my book.

Many weeks ago, when I saw the leaked footage of the Suicide Squad movie, I decided to go and check out the Suicide Squad backissues (yes, even the first run from the 80s & 90s). I also felt this was a good time to start reading Gail Simone’s work on the Secret Six because Gail is completely awesome.

Then all of a sudden I’m wicked vibed to get onto my revisions. It was comics all along! It wasn’t books or movies or TV or the web (as if) – it was comics!

So here’s to comics. Bring on the backissues and bring on the revisions!!

— IEK

marvel_universeSo there I was, trying to install and configure some awesome stuff on my Linux virtual machine (never mind) and then Matt King (@kingmatte) posts his top 5 Marvel Cinematic Universe films on Twitter.

So I start thinking about superhero films…

I configured a couple of servers.

I kept thinking about superhero films…

I installed a few things on the Linux server.

I kept thinking about superhero films…

I ran into trouble with the firewalls on the Linux AND the Windows 2012 servers.

I give up.

Now I’m not going to go with Matt’s concept of only Marvel Cinematic Universe because only us epic comic geeks actually get it or care and I desperately hope somebody reading this is not an epic comic geek….you’re out there, right? Right?

So here it is – my top 10 Marvel Superhero films (all Marvel, not just MCU) since I can remember (yes, sorry, this excludes Batman movies which would be DC Comics and I really don’t like Superman).

avengers 1. Avengers (2012) – The first superhero film which allowed us to believe that superheroes could come together and be completely awesome in the same film. Also: Joss Whedon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

spider-man 2. Spider-man(2002) – My (once) favourite superhero brought to life in the most incredible fashion. I loved this film. Only Avengers has managed to make me feel better than when I saw this film.

 

 

 

 

 

 

gotg 3. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – Perhaps it was my anticipation, perhaps it was the incredible soundtrack, perhaps it was the way 7yo engaged with these characters and this film (even without seeing most of it because it’s a bit serious for him just yet) or perhaps it was just the fun-loving manner of the film itself, but I couldn’t get enough of this film, nor its characters. 7yo and I even went to the last OzComicCon as Gamora & Rocket Racoon (and rocked it I might add).

 

 

 

 

iron_man 4. Iron Man (2008) – Welcome to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They could not have picked a better actor to play Tony Stark, Robert Downey Jnr could not have played him better, the film could not have been better. I didn’t mind Iron Man before this film, after it – Iron Man was one of my favourites.

 

 

 

 

 

age_of_ulton 5. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) – I did love this film, truly it was the action equivalent of its predecessor. The character interplay, dialogue and fighting team-up moves were incredible and yet I couldn’t help but think what could have been made of the Ultron character. Almost nothing was actually made of him and he was frankly more menacing and awesome in the original trailer (which is really quite sad). This could have been #1, Joss. Seriously. All of this said, if I’d seen the Hulk vs Hulk-Buster Iron Man armour scene and that’s all, it would almost have made the list anyway.

 

 

 

the_winter_soldier 6. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2013) – I really enjoyed the first Captain America film. It was classic, a little hokey and had Nazis: perfect Cap origin story. So where to from here? WOW did they know where to go to from here!?! Incredible fight scenes, superb working of the characters mostly working in civilian clothing and settings and loved setting S.H.I.E.L.D. essentially as a corrupted character. Loved the development of Falcon too.

 

 

 

 

 

x-men 7. X-Men (2000) – This was the film which kicked off Hollywood’s meteoric rise to making as many comic-inspired films as possible and it was totally sweet. Except they gave Rogue a name. What the hell was that about?

 

 

 

 

 

 

x-men_2 8. X-Men 2 (2002) – If all I saw of this film was the Nightcrawler scene in the White House it would probably still have been in 8th place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

electra 9. Electra (2005) – I really bloody liked this film. Jennifer Garner worked fantastically, the central character was a strong (yet troubled) female, the plot was intimate and tight and Electra kicked the shit out of a whole bunch of ninjas – what’s not to like!?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

days_of_future_past 10. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) – Really enjoyable film – especially the Quicksilver scene – but I hate time travel, it’s shit*.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

–IEK

 

* When I write a book about time travel, forget I ever said this, OK?

**Yes, Avengers: Age of Ultron spoiler alert**

So this week 7yo received his Lego Club magazine along with the 2015 Lego catalogue. For massive Lego nerds like myself & 7yo, this is called good times.

Two awesome things were in the 2015 catalogue:

1) Integration with Lego’s 3D catalogue app which, when you point your device at the pages, provides 3D, augmented reality animation of many of the sets! It’s hard to describe how amazing you cool it was to see an AT-AT walking on our kitchen table for the first time. Yes – that is an animated AT-AT walking across the pages of the catalogue with snowtroopers abseiling from it. Find the app here: (Play Store & iTunes).
image

2) The following sets:

image

The first thing I noticed was Hulkbuster armour (of course) and from a quick look through the other sets, it’s obvious that Avengers: Age of Ultron is the major inspiration for all of the Lego Marvel Superheroes sets for 2015. Sweet. So…we already know from the trailer that the Avengers teamsheet from the first movie will appear as well as Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, but let’s see what else we can learn from these sets…

image

First off – it looks like the Avengers have Avengers Tower at some stage in the film, so clearly the whole idea of the Avengers only coming together to combat global (or galactic) emergencies is at some stage left behind. Also, we can see the stars-&-stripes-clad Iron Legion combating Ultron Mark 1 around Avengers Tower, which essentially confirms the theory that Tony Stark is responsible for implementing a robotic security force which is what eventually spawns Ultron.

But have a look at one of those Iron Legion minifigs:
image

 

Loki’s sceptre?? VERY interesting. One wonders whether or not the Tesseract is again the source of the Avengers’ woes. Those damn Infinity Gems are just a menace. I mean imagine if someone really nasty got hold of them!

ScreenHunter_24 Dec. 21 09.26

*Daydreams*…Anyway…now let’s see who Lego has in their list of characters for Age of Ultron…

 

imageOK…Ultron Prime…Ultron sentry (look like the Ultrons which swarm all over the Bard Fortress in the trailer)…interesting, but we already knew from the trailer that there would be a bunch of Ultron models in the film. Now at least we can put a few names to chassis. Oh there’s Scarlet Witch – groovy.

image Iron Legion…as mentioned, we can assume this is Tony Stark’s early attempt at a robotic security force. In case you can’t see the resemblance in the pics here – it’s the head of an Iron Legion robot which Ultron crushes with his “Strings” line in the trailer.
image Cap…Black Widow…Iron Man appears to be in every set…

…wait. VISION!!

If you’ve been keeping an eye on spoilers around the place, you will have seen Vision show up in a few places, but nothing official or detailed. So there had been a lot of conjecture about what role the Vision would play in the film. From the set he shows up in (Quinjet City Chase), it’s pretty clear that Ultron has captured Vision and he is freed by the Avengers.image

OK, so there might be a bit more stuff in this than I’ve derived from first glance, but whichever way, these sets are fantastic and this movie is going to completely rule!

Happy building!

— IEK

aladdin_ezraOK for those of you without social media: **SPOILER ALERT**

When I first heard about the new Star Wars animated series, Star Wars: Rebels, I was pretty excited. An animated series which I could, in theory, watch with my kids and which spans the gap between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope? What could be more completely awesome?

I’d watched the original 2003 Clones Wars series and thoroughly enjoyed it. Sure, it wasn’t a live-action Star Wars feature and it wasn’t gritty, adult animation, but it was Star Wars, it told a number of stories behind the movies and it wasn’t the Star Wars Holiday Special.

The 2008-2014 Clone Wars series came at a pretty bad time for me and television (3 kids between ’07 & ’11), so I have seen what would probably add up to around nine minutes of that series. Perhaps I’ll get back to it one day, but just the name “Cad Bane” makes me want to barf a little. Sorry, George, but you know you’ve made it when characters from your stories have their own section in the dictionary under “cliché”.

senator_jar_jarNow unlike many Star Wars fans, I wasn’t bitterly disappointed with Episodes I, II & III. I think they were flawed, certainly, as were Episodes IV, V & VI. I’m not a Hayden Christensen hater, I think his performances were as credible as Mark Hammill’s. I even understand the place of Jar Jar Binks in the overall story (ie. they needed an idiot in a senior senatorial position to propose the Chancellor’s increased executive powers), I just think they made him too much of an clownish idiot and not enough of an ambitious, politically-motivated idiot (one does not need to look far to find plenty of those in the real world). I do think the fall of Anakin Skywalker could have been better handled. I mean why not put Padme in some ACTUAL mortal danger and force Anakin to make a choice between doing something truly evil and letting Padme die? Scales – tipped; problem – solved. Alas.

Overall, I really enjoyed Episodes I, II & III. Episodes IV, V & VI still hold with me as better and more important, but mostly because they were ground-breaking in their time and because I was a kid when they came out (and kids just really know how to enjoy stuff in a life-long kind of manner).

Also unlike many Star Wars fans, I have seen the acquisition of Star Wars by Disney as a good thing. My theory is that Disney is likely to make a shitton of Star Wars films (as they have with Marvel), some will be good, some will be bad, some will be terrible and some (and here’s why I’m excited) will be extraordinary. I am more than willing to chew through the chaff in order to enjoy the cream. It’s all Star Wars.

So this brings us up-to-date on my opinion of Star Wars of Christmases past and future, let’s actually look at the Star Wars of Christmas present: Rebels. My first impression of the show has been a very common one and quite a lasting one: Ezra is Aladdin. He looks like Aladdin, he sounds like Aladdin, he even gets called “street rat” in Ep1. It’s not a co-incidence and it’s something the creators have done consciously, which kind of shits me. I really had believed that all of those memes with Mickey Mouse as a Jedi were a joke. Apparently not.

chopper_palaceI’ve learned to live with Aladdin being the main character in Star Wars: Rebels, though, because for the most part, the show is really good. Sure, the crew of the Ghost is basically lifted as a job-lot from Firefly*, but this means that the characters are solid and the crew chemistry works well to create tension (even if it is a little forced). It’s also nice to have an atromech which is genuinely an arsehole instead of an omniscient, yet benevolent meddler in the affairs of the galaxy (like R2-D2) or an idiot (like every other astromech in the Star Wars universe so far). On the subject of astromechs, I was more than a little horrified during Episode 2 (Droids in Distress) when C3PO and R2 showed up. I was thinking “Oh NO! Can they not come up with some new way to do comic relief in Star Wars!?!”. Episode 1 marred by Aladdin, 2 by the Droids. Things were not off to a good start. Then Episode 2 ended with a rather nice handover and THAT was when I started to like this show.

swr_fightStar Wars: Rebels is a kids cartoon pitched at probably 7 – 12 year olds. The storylines aren’t anything we haven’t seen before (I mean what is?), the characters aren’t (yet) anything we haven’t seen before and the violence is a bit much for under-7s, but not realistic enough to be considered gritty or realistic. The fleshing out of a bit more of the Star Wars universe is really nicely done and the situations the characters find themselves in remind me very much of the Jedi Knight PC games (which were super cool by the way). I think if you were watching these as an adult seeking grown-up storylines, characters and situations, you will be disappointed, but if, like me, you are looking to enjoy a bit of Srat warsy goodness with your 7+ year-old kids, then this show is going to make you and your kids very happy. 7yo and I are certainly really enjoying it.

— IEK

*Ghost Crew = Firefly Crew:

  • Captain with a gruff, unfriendly facade who is really a gentle soul
  • Motherly, good-hearted second-in-command who is really in-command because she can manipulate the Captain & because she is always right
  • Quiet, rebellious younger female with engineering/demolitions tendencies
  • Not-very-bright muscle with questionable loyalty to the crew & a chaotic attitude
  • Wildcard newcomer to the ship who has special powers
  • Book died in Serenity, so they didn’t need to transplant him. What? I said **SPOILERS** at the top and if you haven’t seen Serenity yet, what the hell, man?

I made this! Well...not the movie, but the screenshot and...well...the text.

So many of you will have seen the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer by now. If you haven’t and you want to FOR GOODNESS SAKE – GO! NOW!

If you DON’T want to see the trailer and you live in some sort of pre-Internet spoiler-free world…um…OK, good luck and:

**SPOILER ALERT**

I was fortunate enough to be drinking coffee and checking my Twitter feed when the trailer first leaked on DailyMotion. I immediately retweeted @DailySuperhero‘s tweet because I trust those guys to have the real deal, then I watched it.

I actually need to have a double-carriage-return after even SAYING that I watched it because it was THAT exciting. There are numerous videos on YouTube now of the reaction to the trailer and I’d really quite like to see a video of my bouncing on my chair like a giddy child when the HULK-BUSTER ARMOUR came on. I genuinely lost my shit, as did a number of other fine people I know when they first saw it (thanks for the memories, dudes).

Now the trailer as a means of advertising upcoming films has been around for a long time, but I feel that its place as a genuine art form and even phenomenon has only really come about since the advent of high-speed internet and social media. The EXPLOSION of tweets, Facebook posts, blog posts* and forum threadviruses has allowed movie producers and executives to gauge the quality of their trailers immediately. I think the global reaction to the leaked trailer either forced Marvel *cough*Disney*cough*’s hand or did it’s job in convincing them that this teaser was EXACTLY on the money.

I tweeted earlier in the week that I hadn’t been this excited about a trailer since the first glimpse we all had of a dozen or so Jedis kicking some arse in the Episode II teaser back in 2001 (after the sad “love story” crap from the third teaser trailer). In fact, let’s all re-live that Jedi moment (bless the Internet)…

Ah…I know I feel better.

Anyway…what was I saying? Ah yes: arse kicking. How much did James Spader’s narration MAKE the Age of Ultron trailer? I was so looking forward to nightmares narrated by him on Thursday night. Alas, I slept well. But for the period of about the last two days, I’ve been riding a wave of excitement about how completely awesome this movie is going to be and how the fulfillment of many childhood dreams feels.

Like many magnificently energising action movie trailers, the Age of Ultron trailer had enough glimpses of devastation to hint that whatever threat the Earth was under, the Avenger would truly be needed again, showed enough of the unhinged menace of Ultron to make you realise that this big-bad would be more than worthy and gave you THE BLOODY HULK-BUSTER ARMOUR!!!! So fans of drama excited, fans of apocalyptic storylines excited and fangirls & fanboys VERY excited. It was almost the perfect trailer.

The only thing I found as a mark against it was that the scenes of devastation, the ruined, dusty cars and Cap walking between them, the scenes of crowd fleeing and screaming in terror could easily have been lifted from the first Avengers film – the scenes were just so similar (stock footage?). But I can forgive all of that VERY easily for the HULK BUS–

…Oh OK, I’ll shut up now (briefly).

— IEK

 

* Self reference – I WIN!

 

Having seen an article on the SMH which raised the obvious question about Marvel movies vs DC movies, I wrote the comment below in response.

Of all the other comments made on the article, I found the one regarding Marvel’s tactical decision to release films with individual superheros for Iron Man, Captain America and Thor prior to the release of Avengers most pertinent. It has to be said that hearing about a film which will feature multiple characters you have been watching and enjoying over several years generates a fair bit of excitement all by itself. It didn’t hurt in the end that Joss Whedon’s handling of Avengers was utterly superb.

It does concern me that even I, as an avid comic reader had never heard of Martian Manhunter until Grant Morrison took over the reigns on JLA in 1997. I can only imagine what the viewing public will make of “all these second-string characters” like Wonder Woman and Aquaman. Especially if Aquaman is all nice and has two hands.

I will make a couple of apologies – first of all The Flash is one of my favourite characters of all time. I am most enamoured with the Mark Waid interpretation (as you can see in the article), but I have always found the basic “runs really fast” concept of the Barry Allen (and every other random speedster) to be a bit blah.

I will also apologise on behalf of the universe to anyone who reads the “Flash Gordon” posts. I have no idea what they’re about, when I read it the article did not mention Flash Gordon at all. I can only imagine some poor, confused baby boomer sitting at their computer trying to make sense of “all of this comics nonsense”, then posting something about the only comic they’ve actually read.

 


 

Short answer: No.

Long answer: DC comics have always been targeted at younger audiences – pre-teens. Marvel comics have always been targeted at teenage and young adult audiences (ie. the single largest movie-going demographic) and their characters have, respectively, been designed to appeal to those different demographics.

Think about Spider-man: a geeky orphan, raised by his aunt & uncle who is given amazing super powers, then confronted with the death of his uncle which he COULD have helped prevent! Angst factor: 10.

The X-Men: Mutants who do not fit in to society and are shunned, hated, hunted, but team up to prove themselves, do completely awesome stunts and save the world a lot.

Iron Man: “Genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist” with a weakness for women and booze.

Captain America: Honourable hero in a dishonourable time.

Superman: Stronger, faster & tougher than anything else in the world. Feels threatened by smart, bald men.

The Flash: Runs really fast (Dear Mark Waid, please write a goddamn film).

Hawk Man: Has wings. And a funny hat.

Actually regularly used DC Villains: Angle Man; Captain Boomerang; The Blue Snowman.

The only exception is Batman who has a backstory not a great deal different from Spider-man. It’s not a co-incidence that Batman movies have been the most popular DC movies.

Now…if DC could just find it in their apparently caged imaginations to come up with a solid story for Wonder Woman (not the best name either, but she is a BLOODY FANTASTIC character), then they would have a mega-hit on their hands to rival Twilight.

But of course Wonder Woman apparently “too hard”. Lose the cage, DC. Grow a pair of hips.

— IEK

OK, just so I don’t hurt the relationship I have with any of my American friends or tweeps: Be aware that this blog post contains very minor character spoilers for Season 7 of Dr Who. I will not divulge anything that happens post-episode 6ish, just know that I reveal who the next companion will be and that I LOVE her style.

So….despite the fact that I am not allowed to actually purchase a new dress (2 wardrobes; no money), I am desperate for a new dress. Being a Dr Who addict (from the time I was old enough to watch the show without screaming constantly), I am very taken with the Doctor’s new companion…

***SPOILEEEEERS!!!***

View full article »

Powered by WordPress

All content including images are © I. E. Kenner 1997 - 2017