Soon To Be Classics

Friday, May 16, 2008

Is Something Afoot?

It's rare that I talk about UFO's and whether or not I believe. Of course, UFO's are real as that's just a designation for something that cannot yet be explained. Do I believe in extraterrestrial visitors coming to Earth in their own spacecraft? That's a tough call. There are days I think that the knowledge that we're not alone in the Universe is both exhilarating and frightening all at once. For the record, there is simply no way we're the only life in the Universe. But are they visiting us?

Let's take a quick test. If the U.S. government was aware (or had proof) that we were being visited, would they tell us? Of course not. I think we can all agree on that. But in a world where we are all carrying a cell phone camera in our pocket (except those of us that own a f'ing Blackberry 8830) there's simply no way to continue to cover this up, if they are. If we're truly being visited, sooner or later, some one is going to get proof.

So if you're a government, and you believe that you simply cannot keep the lid on something, how do you soften the blow? In the UFO community, there's a story that 30 years ago, a study was done trying to predict what would happen to society if the existence of extraterristrial life was known. As the story goes, the majority of society would collapse; religion, economics, social strata, etc. Would that really happen? Who knows? I guess it depends upon how our new robotic overlords introduced themselves.

So getting to the point, there were two extraordinary things that happened regarding this subject. First, France and now the British Government began opening their UFO files to the public. Now consider, Russia, Japan, some former Soviet countries and others have done the same. They're basically operating under a "no secrets, we don't know what's going on" attitude. You can read about it here. Be sure and check out this link on the now revealed Rendlesham incident.

The other story, was the Vatican spokesman that came out this last week and said that the existence of aliens fits perfectly well within the Catholic faith. Really.

Does this seem odd to anyone else that suddenly a bunch of governments are a) actually responding to requests for information and b) acknowledging the visitations are possible? (Except ours, of course.)

Or maybe I'm just excited because the X-Files trailer is now online.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

A Study In Contrast

Yesterday was Free Comic Book Day in the U.S. This is a promotion that's a couple of years old and tied (generally) to the May release of whatever the super-hero of the year movie release is. This year, it's Iron Man. Shocho and I went to a local store because I wanted to pick up a copy of the Iron Man HeroClix that I planned for release at this event before I left WizKids.

The promotion works this way. Publishers print up a select number of comics and sell them to retailers through Diamond Comics Distribution at a very cheap rate. Retailers then offer these free to customers who come in. In theory, there's a bunch of advertising outside of the comic industry to get new kids to come in. (First one is fee, kids!) Anyway, the idea is a good one and many stores really do this right.

The store we were at yesterday had the books (41 different titles) in a rack at the front of the store. I glanced over and saw 2 that I'd like to read so I picked those up. Both were books I don't normally buy but these books could possibly cause me to add them to my regular list. There were some younger kids running around who were probably 7-10 years old. And then there was "that guy".

That guy is probably about 40. He pushed his way up to the rack and began shoveling through the books as fast as possible, grabbing one of every title. He didn't stop to look at any of them. If it was a comic, and it was in the rack, he was grabbing it. Next to him, was a young boy holding ONE comic book. The store employee (outweighed by about 8 inches and 150 lbs) said "excuse me sir, but there's a limit of 3 books per person". That guy looked up and said "last year it was 20"!

The mother than said to the young boy, "did you hear that, you can get two more". He was very excited. That Guy began putting back the books he was grabbing but I didn't honestly see if he returned them all.

I'm fairly certain he was going straight home to ebay. There are several auctions right now selling complete collections of the 41 books. Sorry "That Guy" but I don't think your auction is up there.

I love kids, and it was great to see these guys get excited about getting a couple of free comics. I hope they find as much joy in the hobby as I did over the last 35 years and not turn into "That Guy".

Saturday, May 03, 2008

I Am Not Iron Man

But Robert Downey Jr. is, where it counts. At the box office.

Possible spoilers so read at your own peril.

The lovely folks at SOE let us go see Iron Man yesterday during a long lunch at work. This culminates a 9 month anxious wait for this film that started at San Diego Comic Con last year when they trotted out the first film trailer. From a pure marketing standpoint, they did everything right with this film. Show the first stuff to your evangelist crowd. Get them to spread the word to ancillary communities. Don't oversell it in terms of licensing, but do just enough to keep the anticipation high. Toward the end, leak out some key scenes showing not the action so much, but focus on what makes this film work for comic book fans AND otherwise; Robert Downey Jr.

So as to the film itself. It was incredible. Or is that Invicible? Time will tell. This is a super-hero movie that does what the successful comic book films have done in the past. Take the source material seriously. Steer clear of Camp Road and you'll have the die hard comic fans on board. Then flesh it out and make it a good film and the rest will come.

The cast was great. Downey Jr. cannot be praised enough for showing two sides of Tony Stark. Gwenneth Paltrow looked simply amazing in this film. Jeff Bridges looked so unlike Jeff Bridges you almost forgot who he was. Terence Howard did a great job as Rhodes but I would have liked to seen more out of the ups and downs of their friendship.

The CG was flawless. There was not a single point in the film where I was pulled out of the story. In fact, I had a hard time discerning where live film and CG crossed. That's good, because as the Director, Jon Favreau said in many interviews, if the armor doesn't work, neither does this film.

This is a great popcorn movie, but not for the kids. I was kind of hoping I could take my 4 year old but no dice. There are some scenes that are a little intense and let's just say the 50-year old comic book moratorium on how to deal with bad guys is "overlooked" in this film. Nuff said.

For the non-comic geeks, there were a handful of nods to you in this picture. I'm sure I missed one or two but here's a list.
- The bad guys in Afghanistan are a terrorist group called the "10 rings" (Mandarin, anyone?)
- SHIELD makes their presence known. (It made me laugh that they changed the acronym so the "H" is "homeland".)
- Rhodey looking at the silver armor and saying "Next time baby." (In the comics, he dons a suit of armor and becomes "War Machine".)
- The end. Stay past the credits. Trust me.
- The press conference scene has been done at least twice in the last 10 years in the comics.

I'm sure I might have missed one or two.

I give this film an enthusiastic 9 out of 10. There's just not much else they could have done better except for the turning point at the end. It was just a little thin. Maybe more Gwenneth. :) All in all, a great first effort for Marvel's new "Marvel Studios" imprint. Early numbers are saying this will hit about $40 million this weekend, making it the first blockbuster of the year, the biggest opening for the cast involved, and a good start for what's going to be an amazing summer.

Also, be sure and catch "The Hulk" in a couple of weeks if you're a fan of this film. You were warned.