Monday, September 26, 2011

Thor Review

I couldn’t help but think about what attracts us to superhero figures, and especially that traditionally boys were the ones who read the comic books.  I realize that fantasy and violence are two things boys enjoy more than most things; however, why is the idea of a superhero something men have clung to, and now women are attracted to more than ever?    Superman was published in 1938 which was the beginning of the “Golden Age” when comic books came to the forefront.  What was happening in the world?  The persecution of Jews was steadily increasing, Hitler occupied Czechoslovakia, a hurricane killed 700 on Long Island and a crippling recession caused unemployment to rise back to 19%.  It seems America was in desperate need of a break from suffering, and it’s no surprise that the film industry was in its heyday with films like “Boys Town” “The Citadel” and “Pygmalion” which are still well known today as a way of escaping into a world that is better than the one people were living in.  The Roaring 20’s were still fresh in many people’s minds and now that memory turned to bitter envy of a life they once lived or a dream they no longer could attain. 

Superman was an idea that boys could grasp hold of; rescuing a damsel in distress and being the most popular guy in town.  It seems as the generations went by, people like Stan Lee became more creative and as adults suffered more atrocities, the idea of a hero took hold of all generations. Even in my generation in the 80’s for the first time millions of kids from 5 and up were latch key kids home alone for several hours.  Many parents (including mine) bought their kids comic books to keep them out of trouble and to give them a moral center of how good triumphs over evil.  Now that message reaches many through the form of film which holds the same premise as the comic books they are modeled after and is one of the highest grossing genres in film history.  In the top 100 all time box office sales, Science Fiction/Fantasy (excluding animation) dominates the genre with 62 titles, 11 of which are actual comic book figures, and many others the same concept which includes Star Wars, Harry Potter, Men In Black, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Hancock.  Many of the other titles are fantasy cartoons that were enjoyed by adults as much as their children and provide a kind of escape.  Thor is that very kind of movie and is part of an onslaught of DC and Marvel characters trying to get their piece of the movie audience pie; or should I say “wallet.”

I have to admit, I didn’t care for Thor the firs time I saw the movie.  I went to the theater and saw it in 3D, (who wouldn’t) and found it to be lacking depth in the development of the romance and depth of Thor’s character.  Later, I saw it again in the theater and had a different perception.  I recommend anyone to see a movie more than once if your opinion differs from the majority because a person’s mood can greatly affect the lens from which you view the movie (pun intended.)  Although I still maintain that the character development of the romance between Thor and Jane to make it believable that he would risk so much to get back to her, the depth of Loki, Thor and Odin’s character left me with much more sentimentality the second time.  First of all, Thor made a tremendous change in his behavior and attitude when he was led to believe he was forsaken.  Although it was quick, I do like that it left more time for action and the awesome special effects.  The overall message of humility being “great power with great restraint” means that a good leader has the ability to inspire and strategize to make others great rather than ones self.  This is what Odin inspired to do with his two sons with poor results.  His desire for greatness was not matched with the same understanding by either.  Many parents can relate to the idea that one can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.  Although conflict can bring great pain it can also bring the desire to change through suffering, and this is what Odin tried to do with Thor.

I think many of us take certain things for granted and only appreciate them when they are gone, like loved ones on our lives.  Unfortunately it is too late in these cases, and we all must make an effort to take our second chance earlier in life.  This movie made me think of the areas in my life where I am stubborn and unwilling to change, such as my finances and eating habits.  Perhaps if I appreciated my health more I would make better food choices, or if I was satisfied with what I have I would save more.  This movie is inspiring for anyone that sees it that I have talked to on some level and I hope that it inspires you too.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

X-Men First Class Review

X-Men First Class was released on DVD/Blu-ray last week and I can honestly say I was very excited about seeing it again.  I’m a sucker for Superheroes and this movie was a “Sucker Punch” so to speak.  After viewing the film again I have some opinions I would like to share with you as usual.  On a side note though it is equally exciting to announce that there are some other notable Superhero movies releasing soon:  Thor - September 13, Green Lantern – October 14th and last but not least, Captain America – October 25.  It seems all of these movies will give us a plentiful Christmas for gift giving, or in my case, presents to me.

First of all, it is important to remember that this movie is a re-boot and never promised to be a complete continuation of the previous installations; however I assumed it would stay true to the comic continuation that had been established already.  Since there needs to be a drama that is compelling, certain choices were made it seems to differ from the course of events depicted in the DC comic series which was to the dismay of many comic fans.  The sad truth is though that the comic industry was never a mainstay of American publication and although the sales revenue continues to increase some of that revenue can be attributed to inflation.  For instance in 2010, Amazon sold approximately 22 million eBooks, for an average of $9.99 or around $219,780,000 for only one avenue of book sales while all comic book sales for 2010 was about $418.6 million.  This is a decrease from the previous year of $428 million. 

My favorite aspect to “First Class” is how the story follows the emotions of the characters more than the action which leads to the motivation of each character.  From the very beginning we see how Charles Xavier is left to his own devices because his parents are wealthy and always absent, yet there is a strong moral fiber that runs through him and a desire to nurture others.  Perhaps this idea came from the nurture vs. nature theory in which Charles’ DNA took on the nurture factor while another like Raven took on a more nature factor.  I think my favorite character is Charles Xavier because he is a natural leader with charisma and intelligence and the will to nurture all that are in his path.  His character resembles myself somewhat, but I couldn’t brag about myself quite the way I can about Charles.  It’s these complex characters that allow us to become attached to them in a way that no other franchise allows us to.  One of my favorite emotional scenes from “First Class” was when Charles implies to Eric that his happiest memories possess more power than the hurtful ones and that he must put them behind, forgive and allow himself to be controlled by love instead.  Charles calls forth his brightest memory of a Birthday which moves Eric to tears, thus enabling him to move the satellite dish.  Perhaps this message will inspire other viewers to forgive much like the victims of 9/11 have been faced with for a decade.

Emma frost came under a lot of criticism for being too cold, ha, I’m just kidding.  Her age is not continuous with the previous “origins” movie.  The likeness is very striking but more glamorous than the White Queen predecessor.   Although this is true, since it is a re-boot I suspect a casting director fell in love with the appearance of January Jones and intended to use her for the effect.  I think it worked quite well because she had the walk down and her hair was perfectly styled for the role and she looks older than 33 which may not have been noticed by the casting director or the makeup made her look that way.  The movie was also quite long, just over 2 hours but the character development was so amazing it didn’t feel long to me at all.  I had a feeling the attack scene at the institute didn’t fit well in the movie because the recruits were helpless and had no leadership and the agents were all killed which was much darker than any of the previous movies.  That still doesn’t sit right with me and I hope others agree with me or we have been de-sensitized more than I had feared.  Darwin was the most compassionate and possessed the most leadership skills of all of the mutants which made his death much more disruptive to the mind and yet I still did not want Sebastian to die.  Was this the way of the writer to ask the audience to choose which side they will take as well; that of the compassionate and protective X-Men or the vengeful Hellfire Club?   Frankly I feel insulted that any writer would assume someone would root for the bad guys at all; or maybe I’m off base but it does make me wonder why anyone would put that much furry into a villain only to give him the upper hand in the conclusion of the movie.

I think X-Men is a concept that we can all relate to because each one of us feels as though we are more than enough, but have trouble fitting in at one time or another.  Many children are the victim of bullying, and adults are coming forward confessing they are suffering from the memories of similar acts, so it is no surprise that the X-Men have become heroes of acceptance to many young and old.  It is interesting too how the writers chose to depict the transformation that Hank underwent causing him to become the “Beast” that we know in “The Last Stand.”  The message of acceptance for who we are is important for this film and I could hear my subconscious saying the same as Hank regarding my obesity, “It behooves me to tell you that even if we save the world tomorrow and mutants are accepted into society, my feet; you’re natural blue form, will never be accepted by society.  We need this cure.”  I suppose there are many caught in between two sides in our everyday society and my heart goes out to them.  Finding acceptance is a wary process and I suppose each one of us must “choose our sides.”