Strip Talk #34: Let us heartily pontificate on WB’s implosion

Whew, where do we begin in the whirlwind downfall of DC in the past several months? Just as we heaved a collective sigh of relief at the Justice League Snyder Cut being … better … than its theatrical release, out of nowhere came news that Warner Bros. disowned Zack Snyder, cut Batgirl and instituted massive layoffs.
Sure, we’re still getting The Flash’s solo movie – maybe – because Ezra Miller just lost their mind completely. But the movie is finished – we think, don’t quote us – so it’s got to go somewhere, and Warner Bros. seems keen to keep Miller around.
However, we don’t have a clear-cut Batman with Ben Affleck up in the air. Some weeks he’s still going to play Bruce Wayne and the Bat and then some weeks, well, we just don’t know. Robert Pattison is still hanging out after the success of The Batman, but he, too, is a maybe.
And then there’s Henry Cavill’s status as Superman. It’s much like Affleck’s status: Sometimes he’s still Superman and then he’s not and he’s out and they have to start the search for the newest Man of Steel. As of press time, he’s officially back as the character, but it was weird and distracting and wholly unnecessary. Cavill is excellent as Superman, and it’s not a good look to leave him dangling.
You know what else isn’t a good look? Firing a bunch of people during a time of upheaval, sickness and death. No one should be worried about their jobs during a global pandemic. But guess what DC and Warner Bros. Discovery employees are doing? Worrying about who’s getting the ax next. They’ve cut the Batgirl film also, which is a lot of jobs also gone up in smoke. Nope, not a good look, especially during the still-going pandemic.
And let us not ignore the blight Warner Bros. is affecting at Cartoon Network. Messing around with that mainstay of cartoon goodness and screwing creators out of their work is definitely a bad look. Folks remember when you are trash to your talent. The trash business practices stick with folks long after you’ve managed to clean up your balance sheet.
We try to equally praise DC as much as we adulate for Marvel around these parts, but it’s really hard to do so when DC takes out the knife it constantly removes from its own back and replaces it with an even bigger broadsword of self-sabotage smithing.

Lyndsey Beatty is editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached by email at lyndseyb[at]gaminginsurrection.com

Property Review: Street Fighter (1994)

Damme it, this isn’t Street Fighter

“1994 was a good year for coke but a bad year for Street Fighter and Jean-Claude Van Damme.” This is the prevailing sentiment around Gaming Insurrection, considering GI’s editors were teenagers at the time and able to remember exactly how that situation played out.
Street Fighter was riding high at this point with the superb Super Turbo (the subject of this issue’s feature) having been released earlier in the year, a movie with big names attached coming down the pipeline, and its maker Capcom flush with cash. However, all of that would soon crash and burn, thanks to the movie.
Let’s start with the basics: What exactly is the Street Fighter movie about? If you know anything about the franchise’s storyline, you can at least recognize Guile, Chun-Li, and Bison. Guile and Cammy are hunting Bison, a dictator hell bent on world domination. Bison is into some of everything: Drugs, human trafficking, murder, extortion, and illegal arms sales. The intrepid officers are joined by news reporter Chun-Li, former Sumo wrestler E. Honda and boxer Balrog, who are out for revenge against Bison for his various misdeeds. The ragtag crew eventually meet and work with Ken and Ryu, who are con artists trying to scheme against Bison enforcer Sagat. The rest of the World Warriors – Dhalsim, Vega, Dee Jay and Zangief – work for Bison while Blanka is Guile’s friend who is transformed into the beastly roller because of Bison’s experimentation.
For the uninitiated, this seems like a lot and silly. Even for those of us who play the series faithfully, it is exactly that. None of this matches the series storyline, except for Bison, Guile, and Chun-Li. In the games it’s eventually revealed that: Cammy is a clone of Bison; Charlie is not Blanka; Dhalsim, Dee Jay and Zangief don’t work for Bison while Balrog does; and, Ken and Ryu are not con artists. Ryu also doesn’t have a last name. That’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of inconsistencies in this film, and we haven’t touched on the fact that Guile and Cammy don’t work together, and Guile and Ken don’t appear to know each other despite them being brothers-in-law in the games (editor’s note: Ken’s wife, Eliza, and Guile’s wife, Jane, are canonically sisters.). You could explain this away by saying this is an alternate timeline, but Street Fighter hasn’t ventured into that territory as some of its competitors have, such as Mortal Kombat. There is no bright spot with this unnecessarily muddied storyline because all it does is make the characters one-dimensional and slightly easy to understand.
The only bright spot in all this mess is the late Raúl Juliá. Juliá, the incomparable stage great, shows up and carries the film on his broad shoulders in his unfortunate last role before his death in 1994. Bison is appropriately over the top and goofy, but Juliá does it with such aplomb that you kind of root for the dictator despite his terrible acts. Juliá inspires that, though it doesn’t hurt that we were already fans of the terribly missed thespian through the Addams Family films. Van Damme, Ming Na Wen and Kylie Minogue are there, but are they really, though? Van Damme was cast as Guile and made the star of the show even though that role traditionally falls to Ryu. And per the usual that we’ve come to expect from Van Damme, though he has the moves and skill set to pull off the fighting aspects of the character, he doesn’t have the acting chops and he looks nothing like the character. This version of Guile is nothing like the game version and that’s perhaps one of the weakest aspects of the entire thing. He simply wasn’t believable even when you’ve already suspended disbelief this far. The consolation is that everyone else – including Wen and Minogue – resemble their characters in at least façade.
Combining the stunning lack of foresight in Van Damme’s casting and the ridiculous script that doesn’t resemble the games gets you this muddled mess of a send up. At least the ending scene – with the remaining actors recreating their characters’ win poses from Street Fighter II – ties it back to the franchise in a tangible way.
Believe us when we tell you that this was not, in fact, perfect.

Like the games: 1
Acting: 5
Story: 5
Total: 11/30 or 3.6

HOW WE GRADE
We score the properties in three categories: Casting (or voice acting in cases of animated), plot and similarities to its source material. Each category receives points out of the maximum of 10 per category and 30 overall. The percentage is the final score.

Marvel character highlight #32: Captain Marvel

Name: Carol Susan Jane Danvers/Car-Ell

Alias: Binary, Warbird, Ms. Marvel, Catherine Donovan

Affiliation: Avengers, A-Force, Alpha Flight Space Program, Guardians of the Galaxy, Infinity Watch, Mighty Avengers, NASA, New Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D., Starjammers, Ultimates, United States Air Force, X-Men

Special abilities: Superhuman strength, speed, durability, agility, stamina, and reflexes; energy manipulation, absorption, and projection; human/Kree physiology granting resistance to toxins and poisons; “seventh sense” granting flash precognition; accelerated healing factor; and, flight

Background: Carol Danvers began life as a child of a human father and Kree mother. After joining the U.S. Air Force and piloting experimental fighter jets and working in intelligence gathering with Wolverine, Danvers joined NASA as their security chief. There, she became entangled in the adventures of the Kree Mar-Vell, who also was known as Captain Marvel. After Captain Marvel saved her a number of times, she grew to trust him and admired him. After a run in with the Kree Yon-Rogg, an experimental Kree device exploded near Danvers. She was seriously injured and disappeared. She later resurfaced with superhuman powers, christening herself Ms. Marvel. She later worked closely with the X-Men and the Avengers, changing power sets multiple times because of outside influences such as the Brood.

Relationships: Mar-Vell (Captain Marvel), close friend and mentor; James Howlett (Wolverine), close friend; Marcus Immortus, “husband”/son; Chewie, pet

First Versus appearance: Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite

Appearances in other media:
Television: X-Men the Animated Series, The Super Hero Squad Show, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Avengers Assemble, Spider-Man, Marvel Future Avengers, Marvel Super Hero Adventures: Frost Fight!, Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel Rising: Heart of Iron, What If …?, Ms. Marvel

Film: Avengers Confidential: Black Widow and Punisher, Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors, Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, The Marvels

Video games: X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, Marvel Super Hero Squad, Marvel Super Hero Squad Online, Marvel: Avengers Alliance, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2, Marvel Heroes, Marvel Avengers Alliance Tactics, Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes, Marvel Contest of Champions, Marvel: Future Fight, Zen Pinball 2, Marvel Strike Force, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, Marvel Puzzle Quest, Marvel Avengers Academy, Marvel Power United VR, Marvel Battle Lines, Marvel Super War, Marvel Duel, Marvel Future Revolution, Fortnite, Marvel’s Midnight Suns

Property Review: Captain America: The First Avenger

First Avenger Assembled

Around these parts, we are known Marvel enthusiasts. So, it was a big surprise that while we’d seen all the majority of the MCU offerings, we hadn’t seen Cap’s origin.

We love Cap from the end of his time in the MCU, but we were pleasantly surprised by the Star-Spangled Man with a Plan’s introduction.
Captain America’s story in the MCU starts out much like the comics: Steve Rogers, a frail sickly man who is super patriotic, wants to fight for his country in the already-in-progress World War II. Even though he has an admirable fighting spirit, he’s rejected at every turn. That is until Dr. Abraham Erskine comes along with his Super Soldier Serum. The good doctor looks at Rogers as a suitable candidate for the serum, not because he’s the perfect soldier, but because he’s a good man. The project – attended and funded by Howard Stark and observed by Peggy Carter – is a rousing success, transforming the poor orphan into the strong, able-bodied Steve Rogers that we know and love. But here’s where things go wrong for our young super soldier: Erskine is murdered by the Nazis, and with him goes the future of the project.

Steve is now a one-of-a-kind freak asset, and the U.S. government doesn’t exactly need him to go do the things the main army is already accomplishing. However, when news of his childhood bestie James “Bucky” Barnes’ capture reaches his camp, Steve steals off to the front lines to rescue him and Bucky’s unit almost singlehandedly and proves his worth. Steve then manages to change the outcome of the war effort through bravery but there’s a cost: The Nazis manage to get their hands on the Tesseract/Cosmic Cube. Steve tracks it down and engages in battle only to win but lose Bucky and be lost to history for 70 years after crashing his plane to prevent the Cube from being recovered.
Given our previous reviews of MCU films and our glowing praise for the development of Steve Rogers, it’s not a secret that we love the characterization of Captain America. You learn here that Steve has always been worthy (for the purposes of wielding Mjolnir) and why. This isn’t a platitude that bares out in Avengers: Endgame just because he did a few good things. It’s built into Steven Grant Rogers’ DNA, from the moment that you see him fight a bully with the makeshift shield to the minute that he jumps on a fake hand grenade without thinking of the danger to himself. The Man out of Time is, in fact, the best man for the job because he is that job.

And while others are excellent in their roles here, let us take a minute to appreciate the outstanding job Chris Evans does with the role. Evans is so perfect a choice for Captain Rogers that 11 years later, we cannot picture anyone else playing the role. Evans’ earnest portrayal of the character shines through and propels the movie beyond the standard origin story. And his chemistry with the also-excellent Sebastian Stan and Hayley Atwell is a notable highlight. Hugo Weaving also deserves mention as a good villain in the story. He isn’t over the top, but a subtle smoldering foil to the good captain’s plans to end World War II.

We are massive fans of Captain America from the angle of Winter Soldier but with the seeds planted here, we now have the lead up to why we claim Winter Soldier as our favorite MCU film. First Avenger isn’t the first film in the MCU, but it certainly ranks high in the pantheon of character establishment in the world of Marvel superheroes.

Like the comics: 8
Acting: 9.5
Story: 9.5
Total: 27/30 or 9

HOW WE GRADE
We score the properties in three categories: Casting (or voice acting in cases of animated), plot and similarities to its source material. Each category receives points out of the maximum of 10 per category and 30 overall. The percentage is the final score.

Property Review: Zack Snyder’s Justice League

Snyder Cut rights a grave wrong

Sometimes, setting a precedent is a necessary evil.

The theatrical release of Justice League in 2017 was an unmitigated disaster. The plot was all over the place, the editing was unpolished, and it generally didn’t seem ready for release. But, the rumors began of another cut by the original director Zack Snyder. Snyder, who had stepped down for personal reasons, was generally regarded as someone who knew what they were doing when it comes to comic book film adaptations (see Man of Steel, 300 and Watchmen). This cut was much longer but supposedly closer to the original vision of what Justice League should have been.

The Snyder Cut was that and much more.

Putting together a coherent feature, the Snyder Cut is infinitely more watchable than the original cut of the film. Character motivations make more sense, important details are emphasized, and subplots and sometimes even characters are restored. Snyder’s delicate touch and worldbuilding are vital with an ensemble picture such as this, and it shows in the many changes made to correct.

One of those material effects is the origin story of Cyborg. With Snyder’s vision restored and more of the important details of his transition from human to cyborg, Cyborg is more present than he ever hoped to be in the original cut. Actor Ray Fisher is a force to be reckoned with in the film, and through this re-characterization you can immediately see why. Fisher must balance the nature of humanity versus machine after Victor Stone’s accident, and he does so with stunning aplomb.

Also of note, The Flash, as portrayed by Ezra Miller, is also superb with the restoration of his character in Snyder’s version. Miller takes the character from jokester to serious world-saving hero with several amazing scenes, including one that eventually won an Academy Award. Though this is not a review of Warner Bros.’ failures, take note that the scene that won the Oscar was among quite a few that the studio and theatrical director Joss Whedon cut from the original final product.

Snyder’s final cut blows away the original theatrical cut and makes good use of the extended run time. It’s almost as if an ensemble film should be this long and this good on purpose. While we’re not fans of the precedent set in having multiple releases of the same film, the original cut of Justice League was an abomination that necessitated the Snyder version’s release. Trust us when we say the film only has room for one abomination in the form of Darkseid.

Story: 8
Acting: 10
Like the comics?: 9

Total score: 27/30 or 9.0

 

HOW WE GRADE

We score the properties in three categories: Casting (or voice acting in cases of animated), plot and similarities to its source material. Each category receives points out of the maximum of 10 per category and 30 overall. The percentage is the final score.

Property Review: Iron Man

The first coming of Tony Stark is one of the best MCU origin stories

Iron Man
Marvel Studios, 2008

The one that started them all. The metaphorical start of Robert Downey Jr.’s comic book-like redemption arc. The birthplace of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The beginning of the beginning. All of these titles are appropriate for Iron Man, the 2008 origin story of veteran Avenger Tony Stark. Another title to throw in there? Magnificent.

It’s not just the tight story telling or excellent acting chops of the main cast. It’s also seeing Stark make his turn into the Avenger we all know and love. Stark starts out super hedonistic and self-serving. Through his wounding and subsequent capture by the Ten Rings organization, little by little, you see Stark have the needed epiphany that he was, in fact, War Machine, not Iron Man. Half of its fun ride comes from this need to see him come to that realization. The other half is, of course, learning that Stark can apply his genius for good and productive ways while still being the billionaire philanthropic playboy he declares himself to be to Steve Rogers in the later Avengers film.

Where Iron Man particularly succeeds, however, is the parallel Stark shares with perfect portrayer Robert Downey Jr. What most new generation Marvel fans don’t realize is, is when Iron Man was casted, Downey Jr. was not the bankable star that he is now. The man’s past is well known to older fans and caused several — including himself — to pause.

But the single most compelling thing about Downey Jr. is his will to better himself, work every day like most others to redeem himself and grow. That indomitable will shows in every second that Downey Jr. is Tony Stark/Iron Man. He is Iron Man. He is the living embodiment of the character who struggled to redeem himself and be a team player. Downey Jr. is such perfect casting that there is no one else that could ever step into the role. He became the character.

And for all that Iron Man succeeds in doing bombastically, it quietly sets up the rest of the cinematic universe perfectly. Iron Man in its stumbling glory is what we now know as the standard for a Marvel movie. It makes Stark relatable, tells his superhero origin story and sets up future films with a deftness that reminds us that there is, in fact, a plan for all of this. Now that we’ve seen that plan unfold, we can come back and praise the beginning for all that it is. The heart and soul of the MCU lives on.

Like the comics: 8

Acting: 8.5

Story: 8

Total: 24.5/30 or 8

HOW WE GRADE

We score the properties in three categories: Casting (or voice acting in cases of animated), plot and similarities to its source material. Each category receives points out of the maximum of 10 per category and 30 overall. The percentage is the final score.

Property review: Transformers (2007)

Transformers 2007 main review

Transfomers

Dreamworks Pictures, 2007

Transformers rolls out in uneven debut

Let’s get one thing clear from the beginning: We at GI are not huge fans of the Transformers. Yes, we watched the original cartoon from the 1980s, and yes, we know the difference between an Autobot and a Decepticon. However, we did not revere the creatures who have more than meets the eye going on. Really, the only reason why we even bothered going to see the original film was because a certain former GI editor made demands. So, we indulged. It was not exactly the most fun two hours we’ve suffered through, but it wasn’t a total wash, either.

Transformers takes itself seriously, we’ll give it that. It’s based off of the original cartoon about the warring robots, but it tries hard to downplay its cartoon roots. With Michael Bay as the director, you know what you’re probably going to get: Lots of loud explosions and maybe some exposition that refers to the source material. Or maybe not. In this case, there are references such as Sam Witwicky and most of the Transformers’ names. But there’s this uncomfortable pall cast over everything that signals a struggle to be Transformers yet not be Transformers at the same time. It’s as if Bay wants to use the name to lure in old heads who love the franchise, but he doesn’t want to tread too much in the realm of giant talking robots who take the forms of common everyday objects because just who could believe that? While the premise is a bit much, you can take it because you more than likely took it back in the day when Transformers was still a thing.

Pushing the film along is the extensive use of live-action mixed with CGI. The mix is decent and mostly seamless, and it’s handled well. Usually, CGI and live action do not mix well at all, but this is well done enough that it’s not distracting. The acting is hit or miss, but the humor more than makes up for the stilted nature of the film. And while the acting is a little wooden, the chemistry between Shia LeBeouf and Megan Fox is obvious and welcome. It’s more than obvious that these kids got together at some point during the making of the film, so it helps that it comes out in their scenes together.

While it manages to get some things correct, Transformers does miss a few beats. Firstly, it’s a tad too long. It’s nice to have the military realism in the film because you’re going to want to know exactly what the government is doing throughout the film. But the film drags in too many places and that’s one of the them. Secondly, it’s a little hard to figure out and keep up with the different Transformers, especially because while some of them look exactly like their original series counterpart, some do not (i.e. Megatron and Starscream). Though Optimus Prime is voiced by the immeasurable Peter Cullen (again!), it’s hard to follow what’s going on when you’re constantly trying to figure out who’s a Deception and who’s an Autobot. Some of the lesser characters feel a little throwaway. Lastly, it’s a Michael Bay film so some of the logic is missing and you’re tasked with making spurious leaps in logic that assume you watched the original show religiously. Not everyone did, and that’s a terrible assumption to make. And what bothers us the most about that is, parts of the movie deviate from the show and the comics.

While it has its share of problems ranging from too much going on to too much deviation from source material, Transformers isn’t that bad. Just make sure you that you do know the difference between an Autobot and a Decepticon before you sit down to watch.

Casting: 8.5
Writing: 6
Like the comics?: 6
Total: 20.5/30 or 6.8

How we grade

We score the properties in three categories: Casting (or voice acting in cases of animated), plot and similarities to its source material. Each category receives points out of the maximum of 10 per category and 30 overall. The percentage is the final score.

Property review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Photo courtesy of IMDB.com
Photo courtesy of IMDB.com

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Marvel Studios, 2014

 

Winter Soldier strikes cool balance

There is no such thing as not believing in the magic of superhero films. Marvel has proven that a ridiculous number of times over by this point, and you can’t deny the impact that a good action flick about beautiful people with super powers has over the general buying public. But then there comes along a solid title that takes things a step further in terms of technical details, action, acting and writing. That film manages to open a new path in terms of presentation and overall packaging that makes you, the viewer, believe that anything is possible in terms of the improvement in quality for all comic book-based properties. That film is Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Let’s stop for a minute and take stock of the storyline, because this sets up just how well the movie makes its point about being a comic book property. Captain America is living life in the S.H.I.E.L.D way two years after the events of the Avengers. Things are good, he’s doing his job and all seems right in the world though he’s chafing a bit under the S.H.I.E.L.D rule. And then all hell breaks loose. In short order, Nick Fury is shot — apparently fatally — in Steve Rogers’ living room by an unknown assassin, S.H.I.E.L.D seems like it’s out to kill Rogers and he’s on the run while trying to figure out who and what can he trust. That assassin? It turns out this assassin isn’t really unknown but is the Winter Solider, someone that Rogers has encountered many a time before who’s fundamentally opposed to Rogers’ mission to stop the chaos.

There’s so much tight writing and story exposition jam-packed into two hours of Winter Soldier that it’s impossible to accurately describe the synopsis without giving away major plot points. Everything is a major plot point and the pacing at which it’s revealed is perfect. At no point did Winter Soldier give away the fact that it’s a two-hour film centered on political intrigue. At no point did it drag so much that details were lost. It’s the kind of movie that requires multiple viewings just to catch the little things that will be lost on the average moviegoer.

It’s a bad thing that the film doesn’t drag, though, because it’s the movie of the ridiculously good-looking (and great acting) people. Like every movie released in the Marvel cinematic universe, Winter Soldier seems to be casted with and directed by people who were secretly born to play their roles. Even the newcomer — Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon — fits this role so well that it’s as if he were always there, just waiting in the wings to be introduced. The acting is superb and it’s done in such a way that you really get behind the motivation of each individual, forgetting for just a moment that this, indeed, is a comic book come to the big screen.

Winter Soldier probably suffers from only one flaw and that’s the obviousness of the formula. It’s a great formula, and a great problem to have, but it’s pretty obvious by now that Marvel has its ducks in a row and they know how to put together a good crew and storyline for their movies. Winter Soldier slightly seems to fall into that complacency, but it quickly recovers and doesn’t stand for resting on its laurels for long. Just when you think there’s not enough action going on, there’s a distraction in the form of a great set piece or storyline push that remedies the problem. That’s the mark of a good movie.

Even if it is based on a comic book property.

Like the comics: 9

Acting: 9

Plot: 8.5

Overall score: 26.5/30 or 8.8

 

How we grade

We score the properties in three categories: Casting (or voice acting in the case of animated), plot and similarities to its source material. Each category receives points out of maximum of 10 per category, and 30 overall. The percentage is the final score.

Otaku Corner: Robotech Remastered Vol. 2

Robotech Remastered Vol. 2 continues classic trend

Brandon-2012-cutoutWelcome back to another installment of Otaku Corner. Instead of manga reviews this time, we’re going to the movies to relax with another review of the space anime series Robotech. Robotech is considered by most anime aficionados as one of the great space anime series not only because of its groundbreaking mecha designs, but also because of its universal appeal in presenting various issues in the backdrop of war.

As an anime viewer, I give high praise to series like Robotech that can keep action and comedic elements while presenting mature subject matter to its audience. Robotech Remastered: The Macross Saga, Vol. 2 continues this trend.

When we last left the Earth battleship SDF-1, Rick Hunter, Lisa Hayes and their companions Ben Dixon and Max Sterling were captured by Zentradi forces seeking to obtain knowledge of the energy source known as protoculture. However, they were able to escape back to the SDF-1 and returned to a hero’s welcome, which caused Rick to have feelings for Lynn-Minmei and Lisa that were more than friendship. At this time, the battle fortress was able to land on Earth and was ordered by the United Earth Government to prohibit the civilians of Macross City from leaving the ship.

Robotech Remastered Vol 2-fixed
Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

As the battle between aliens and Micronians continued, life aboard the SDF-1 did became more normal with the release of the first martial arts movie filmed on the ship. This begins to bring Rick and Lisa closer, and also catches the eye of Miriya, a Zentradi ace pilot who was reduced to Micronian size to get revenge against Max, who unknowingly defeated her twice. Elsewhere, Lynn-Minmei faces a dilemma of her own when Lynn-Kyle asks for her hand in marriage. Despite being at war, the SDF-1 and its inhabitants still face battles, battles that require different strategies to fight.

Robotech Vol. 2 has kept the mixture of action, comedy and mature subject matter together. You will become emotional when you see Claudia Grant’s and Rick’s simultaneous grief at Roy’s death. At the same time, a funny moment comes when the three Zentradi spies Bron, Rico and Konda travel back to the Zentradi fleet and reveal various smuggled objects such as a refrigerator and become street vendors sharing and trading their loot with other Zentradi soldiers.

There is plenty of action with the SDF-1, and the Veritech fighters mix it up with Zentradi ships in a way that will make viewers feel as if they have front-row seats in an intergalactic dog fight. The voice acting is top-notch since Robotech has launched the careers of voiceactors such as Tony Oliver, Barbra Goodson, Richard Epcar, Robert Axelrod and Dan Green to name a few. Overall, Robotech Vol. 2 is a great way to spend a lazy weekend, rain or shine, with a classic anime that will never get old.

Robotech is a masterpiece. I say this despite other great anime space series such as Gundam that are more well-known; Robotech is in a class by itself with a good mix that does not dumb down its audience. Producer Carl Macek left the world with a classic series that continues to be relevant and will remain for years to come. I encourage you, fellow otaku, to pick up this series.

Brandon Beatty is editor-at-large of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb@gaminginsurrection.com

Property review: X-Men: Days of Future Past

Photo courtesy of IMDB.com
Photo courtesy of IMDB.com

 X-Men: Days of Future Past

20th Century Fox, 2014

 

 X-cellent return to form

Set aside any preconceived notions you may have had at the announcement of a new X-Men film. We’ll wait because we know just how hard that may be to do. Now that it’s out of the way, let’s get down to business.

X-Men Days of Future Past is phenomenal.

Everything that went wrong with The Last Stand (editor’s note: See 2Q2014’s property review) has been corrected. See, the acting wasn’t the problem; it was the storyline and the execution. Days of Future Past manages to take the bleak problems of its predecessor and turn them into bright spots, ironically, because Days of Future Past is a bleak and dark turn of events for the merry band of mutants.

Days of Future Past, while different from the Animated Series and the comic book original, is a solid adventure for the X-Men. The story posits that a single assassination is the linchpin that leads to the extinction of mutants by the Sentinels, aggressive mutant-hunting robots of the future. By stopping the assassination of Dr. Boliviar Trask, the X-Men will prevent the genocidal Sentinels from ever coming into being and, more importantly, prevent the slaughter of millions of humans and mutants, alike. To do this, they send Wolverine back into time to the point of divergence and hope that he can convince estranged friends Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr to work together for the common good once more.

The story takes some twists and turns, but by the end, you realize that this is a story of redemption and broken dreams healed. That’s not just for the characters, but also for the movie franchise. Let’s face it: Last Stand was horrible and a desecration of all that stands in the X-Men universe. Days of Future Past gets everything right and then some, starting with the re-emergence of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. Next comes the healing of story butchering. Events that take place in Last Stand (no spoilers!) are erased throughout the film, but in particular the last five minutes of Days of Future Past quickly place a stake through the heart of Last Stand. Finally, comes the attention to detail, which is a major component of any comic book adaptation. Sure, Days of Future Past takes some liberties with the source material, but we’ll allow it if it means the story will flow better. Here, it does and the changes make sense. There’s no half-baked change for the sake of change.

Something else that Days of Future Past manages to accomplish is a sense of clarity. A time-traveling tale can be confusing with the lack of the right amount of distinguishing features to differentiate between eras. However, the film has a stunning amount of clarity, which makes everything obvious as to which time period is at the forefront. We had no trouble understanding the chain of events of the film — despite a lot of jumping between 1973 and 2023 — and additionally, the powers of all mutants involved were correct and instantly clear. That’s what happens when there is an obvious and immense level of detail paid to the source material, something Last Stand sorely lacked. And, unlike its predecessor, we had few gripes. We would have liked to have seen more Quicksilver and more of the newer mutants who joined the cause. Also, a little elaboration on the answer to the question of how the Sentinels evolved to the future state would have been nice, considering that original version’s answer of Mastermold was left out of the film entirely. However, those are small quibbles and a small price to pay for such a large love letter/apologetic note to fans.

Days of Future Past serves a multipronged purpose: pacify the veteran X-Men film fans; fix the problems of Last Stand; continue the story of the uncanny mutants through the First Class cast; continue the reboot of the film franchise; and serve as the swan song of the original trilogy’s cast. Days of Future Past manages to complete its tasks and usher in a new era of prosperity and promise for one of the most recognizable comic book franchises ever. Days of Future Past is an x-cellent return to form.

 

Like the comics: 7

Casting: 10

Plot: 10

Overall score: 27 out of 30 or 9

 

How we grade

We score the properties in three categories: Casting (or voice acting in the case of animated), plot and similarities to its source material. Each category receives points out of maximum of 10 per category, and 30 overall. The percentage is the final score.