DC vs. Marvel: The Road To Justice League Part One.. Going Beyond Batman


Batman has been kicking some major ass for a few decades now. Even though I’m a die-hard Marvel fan, Batman is by far one of my favorite heroes. Heck, he is one of my favorite fictional characters PERIOD.  DC has some strong characters but it always seems to go back to Batman.  On the cusp of a revitalized DC cinematic universe and the new Justice League movie (Justice League Part One), you have to ask yourself:

Can DC do better than Batman?

Here’s a guy whose superpower is simply “resourcefulness”. He learned martial arts and is a bit of a ninja. He employs his knowledge of psychology to exploit enemy weaknesses. He’s arguably the greatest detective, second maybe to Sherlock Holmes (though that depends on which iteration of Batman we’re talking about). Oh, and he has cool gadgets that would make Iron Man blush. If you include the Batman show run from 1966 through 1968 (hey, it’s canon DAMMIT), his dance skills are undeniable as well – that Batusi, though!

FUN FACT: Growing up, Julie Newmar was totally my crush.. I still say she’s the most purrfect Catwoman ever.

Julie Newmar as Catwoman. Purrrrfect.

Julie Newmar as Catwoman. Those eyes always get me. They’re purrrrrfect.

Julie Newmar as Catwoman. Purrrrfect.

Batman has been a compelling force in all facets of geek culture: video games, tabletop games, trading cards, comics, novels, TV, and the big screen. In my humble opinion, all of the Batman content is timeless and even the horribad stuff (say, Batman & Robin of 1997, where there was an entire competitive ice skating scene and lots of frollicking) is enjoyable to some extent. Heck, if you go back to the Sunsoft Batman games of the 80s/90s, they are still super-duper fun and hold up well in spite of the dated graphics – even if you’re not a retro hipster like me! Hmmm, I smell a future #RetroFriday theme…

Animated GIF: Batman NES 8-bit wall jumping!

8-bit Batman goodness. Thank you, NES and Sunsoft. You climb them walls, Batman!

The Batman universe is so massive that it’s spawned countless TV shows and animated series. Just to name a few, we have Batman (1996), Batman: The Animated Series (1992), The New Batman Adventures (1997), Batman Beyond (1999), The Batman (2004), and Birds of Prey (2002). Yeah, I went there on the last one and you know what? Birds of Prey had tons of potential, as cheesy as it was. We got to see what happens in a world where Batman finally gives up and others pick up the slack. Plus you get to meet his daughter, The Huntress and an older Batgirl – AWESOME!

Ashley Scott as The Huntress (Birds Of Prey).

Casting for Birds Of Prey may be one of the reasons it didn’t succeed but Ashley Scott did bring a lot to the role of The Huntress. Rawr.

As huge as Batman is, he’s only a small part of the DC universe but it’s undeniable that he overshadows everything else. I mean, the recent slew of Batman games are still kicking ass, against all odds (you know, because licensed games tend to suck). Beyond the Arkham/Dark Knight themed video games of the Xbox 360/PS3 and Xbox One/PS4 generations, there are a slew of Batman-themed puzzle and arcade-style online casino games that are strangely sticky. It goes to show that we can’t get enough Batman! Now, if we can get a Batman-themed Texas Tea game, we’ll be set – that particular game has paid out quite well for me during my Las Vegas excursions

Texas Tea giant screen multiplayer model - EPIC!

FYI: Texas Tea is widely addicting and, if someone makes a mobile equivalent with online play, I bet it be a huge success. Just remember who gave you the idea.

Marvel vs. DC Cinematic Universe

So let’s talk about the DC universe as a whole. If you ask our fellow geeks, most might say that DC is still lagging behind Marvel. On the TV front, the combined efforts of The Flash, Supergirl, Arrow, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow have created a very believable world with compelling enemies and loosely-connected story lines. On the big screen, they’re not doing so hot.

DC has made it clear that they’re not interested in tying in their television series with their silver screen stuff. I think that is a smart decision as it gives them more creative freedom. Some fans would like to see the TV actors do large-scale productions but that may not work as well. For example, Steve Amell is great but he hasn’t done too hot in movies. Without the TV backdrop, however, DC needs to rely on their movie universe alone or risk losing people.

On the Marvel side, you have the Netflix shows like Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and the most recent Iron Fist. Let’s just get this out of the way: Iron Fist is actually a really strong show but critics are slamming it because controversy and contrarian opinions garner attention. Anywho, all of these shows have fleshed out the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) nicely without getting in the way of each other too much.

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Mini Zombie Photo Journal: #WalkerStalkerCon #Atlanta 2014 | #TWTT #HorsePLAY

UPDATE:  Had some tech issues.  All sorted out now.  This was supposed to be a early morning piece.  My bad!

Day One of Walker Stalker Con was pretty darn awesome.  It’s already almost time to head back but here are some quick highlights.  I apologize in advance for some of the crappy photos but, hey, it’s something!




Eric and James of The Walker Stalkers podcast kicked off the event sharing a brief history of the event.  It’s hard to believe it hasn’t even been two years since WSC started.


They discussed how the event started as a simple fan meetup.  The expected turnout was 1K but, instead, over 10K people showed up.  This year, they are expecting over 50K at the event.  Their growth has been amazing and inspiring!  This reminds us that podcasts are still ripe opportunities.




Walker Stalkers LIVE reminded us that this is a true fan event.  Eric and James offered General Admissions attendees a chance at a free VIP upgrade by playing The Walking Dead Family Feud.  It was awesome seeing old TWD cast members sitting right there with the fans.  The energy and wit the actors brought was refreshing and it really set the tone for the event.  This is huge considering Dania, a.k.a. Michonne, cancelled at the very last minute and other issues overshadowed Day One.  To that I say “shame on you” to the managers and agents who failed to see the importance of this event.




Lots of great surveys were featured in this game of Family Feud.  The big one is shown above, when contestants were asked, “What are the biggest threats in The Walking Dead?”  Sadly, spoiled food and squirrels did not make the board.  Doh.




The main panel room on the 3rd floor of AmericasMart building 2 is huge.  There is not much scheduled in the space, which is a shame, but the setup is nice.  Great lighting and set pieces.  This event space in Atlanta is impressive and spacious, yet it’s not overwhelming like, say, Jacob Javits Center in NYC.  There is a certain warmth here.




The next panel I caught was Emory University’s Zombie Ethics discussion.  They went deep on the allure of The Walking Dead and what defines ethics under normal or apocalyptic circumstances.  Are zombies sentient enough to be subject to ethics ?  Is mistreatment of zombies animal cruelty?  Does choice and free will determine the responsibility of ethics?   I really enjoyed the discussion so expect a write-up on it.  There were audio issues but the presenters and experts were wonderful so I stuck around for the whole thing.


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SATURDAY NOON ET: A #DoctorWho Podcast: What Do You Fear?

SATURDAY NOON ET: GANG’s #DoctorWho Podcast: Timey-Wimey Tea Time Episode 5

Tune in Saturday, September 20th at noon ET (Saturday, September 13) for a friendly live chat experience of TWTT Ep. 5 on http://www.twitch.tv/geekyantics or http://www.allgames.com.

September 20th. Noon. That’s 9am for the U.S. West Coast, 5pm for London and 7pm, Bucharest.


Are you afraid of the dark?

Does fear hold you back or strengthen you?

What are your greatest fears?

Call in and tell us: 1.206.415.4987 (add 00 if calling from outside the US)

Tell us in the live chat during the show: http://www.allgames.com/live

Or email us: mail@geekyantics.net

Yomar Lopez

Yogi got the Beats by Dre

Stan Faryna

Geeky Stan - OMG Face

Listen to Episode 4 and ponder the Doctor like you never pondered him before.

Part One: Timey-Wimey Tea Time Episode Four (#TWTT EP 4.0)
Part Two: Timey-Wimey Tea Time Episode Four (#TWTT EP 4.5)
Part Three: Timey-Wimey Tea Time Episode Four Extra (#TWTT EP 4.X)


Best Ever #DoctorWho Podcast: Timey-Wimey Tea Time E4 with @yogizilla @faryna

Best Ever Doctor Who Podcast: Timey-Wimey Tea Time Ep. 4 with @yogizilla @faryna

Doctor, who?!

In Episode TWTT 4, we gave a nod to the humor but struggle to find a deeper idea in Doctor Who Episode 3, Robot of Sherwood. We gladly shared some of the comments you left on YouTube for TWTT Episode 3, then played awesome submissions for the #SoftKitty song contest. Oh, heck yes, we got a beat down from the new software as we attempted to stream to allgames.com.

Tune in Saturday, September 20th at noon ET (Saturday, September 13) for a friendly live chat experience of TWTT Ep. 5 on http://www.twitch.tv/geekyantics or http://www.allgames.com.

September 20th. Noon. That’s 9am for the U.S. West Coast, 5pm for London and 7pm, Bucharest. [Read more…]

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) Movie Review #TurtlePower #TMNT

Written By Fred Rojas a.k.a. @Spydersvenom
Visit Fred at http://gaminghistory101.com and The B-Team Podcast.


tmnt_posterTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT), the 2014 live action reboot, is finally here.  I say this because we’ve been seeing coverage on the movie’s development for over a year and it all seemed to be bad news for the franchise.  That’s significant for many of us that were kids when the comic launched in 1984 and eventually transcended every major medium over the course of the fifteen years that followed.  In short, you couldn’t get away from these “heroes in the half shell” in the late 80s/early 90s if you were tuned into pop culture in the least.  TMNT is a bare-bones, predictable plot where a vapid lead reporter stumbles into one troubled situation after another while immature childlike creatures try to protect her with pointless explosions and IQ-free action sequences.  Don’t think I’m being negative; that’s exactly what the Ninja Turtles have been all along, and this film nailed it.


It’s the strangest dichotomy from start to finish.  On one hand you’re watching a familiar plot as April attempts to break a story on the nefarious foot clan that has plagued New York City.  On the other hand you’re introduced to a new aesthetic for the Turtles that takes some getting used to.  As you progress through the film’s 100 minute jaunt everything will begin to bleed together and suddenly you don’t question a Shredder that looks like the Predator.  Despite these visual setbacks, TMNT still remains quite self-aware and has no problem digging deep into the vaults and featuring characters like Vernon Fenwick (Vern) or using the line “tonight, I dine on turtle soup.”  There was even a line where Vern asks April if the Turtles may be aliens and she mentions how dumb that concept would be – which those that followed the film’s development will note was the original idea for this reboot.  I even have to commend the frantic camera work of Lula Carvalho that seems to borrow from some of my favorite parts of the cartoon show, in some cases matching the shots exactly, because I never would have imagined it be allowed in a major film.


While Michael Bay did produce this film, his touch is barely present in the grand scheme of things and probably is the last name you should be interested in.  I wasn’t thrilled with writing duo Josh Applebaum and Andre Nemec (of Alias fame among others) penning the script, but a third involvement of Evan Daughtery (Snow White and the HuntsmanDivergent) did assist in grounding the plot and giving it a justifiable ending.  Director Jonathan Liebesman’s Battle Los Angeles and Wrath of the Titans work clearly came in handy for some of the crazier action sequences – there’s an excellent snowy mountainside sequence.  Many criticized Megan Fox for being the hot chick without much talent, and while I sadly must admit her acting leaves something to be desired, I would argue she fills the shoes of April O’Neil appropriately in every way except for her visual similarity to the character in comics and cartoons.  As usual William Fichtner is underutilized as Eric Sacks, who has a large role in the script but always falls short of any true character development.  I’m sure many would argue that the Turtles themselves should be mentioned, but I neither knew much about the actors nor could recognize them enough in the film to consider it notable.


If you grew up with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles you probably were introduced by a frantic cartoon whose ability to withstand the test of time is debatable.  When the live action film released it was clearly forced to use drama and one-liners to conceal the fact that big guys in rubber suits cannot emulate their cartoon counterparts.  This new film is finally able to keep up with what the cartoon started, which may be great for kids and fans of the original, but dwindles to nothing more than Hollywood summer blockbuster spectacle to most others.  That doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for it, but if you’re hoping to see some sort of gritty new well-written world where the Ninja Turtles are handled like Nolan’s Dark Knight saga, look elsewhere.  Still, I can’t help but feel that perhaps this license just isn’t suited for something so high brow, it’s just big dumb fun.

Final Score: 3 out of 5

The reviewer paid to see this film and was provided with no press passes or other promotional material.

What can Monty Python teach you about writing? by John Magnet Bell

What can Monty Python teach you about writing?

by John Magnet Bell

John Magnet Bell

Monty Python’s Flying Circus was an educational TV program which ran on BBC TV from 1969 to 1974. Forty-five episodes were broadcast in Britain, and two additional ones in Germany, where spectators needed a supplementary dose of education.


Monty Python Flying Circus


The Flying Circus was the brainchild of a select group of Oxbridge-educated psychologists, podiatrists (or is that pediatricians? I always forget which is which), barristers and architects. It may surprise you to know that the concept for the program was originally suggested by Eric Idle’s great-grandfather, an indirect descendant of William Shakespeare and the first man in Britain to report an encounter with a bar of soap.

This would surprise you because it is mostly not true.


In fact Monty Python owe their existence to the patronage of a Dutch-Slovenian aristocrat, Baron Von Took, who brought the troupe into the main BBC building one day thinking they would make good pets.


monty-python-shaven apes

Things got out of hand when a shortsighted production assistant mistook the six shaven apes for human beings and put them in front of a camera. Terror & hilarity ensued as the Pythons ran amuck all over the BBC, stealing people’s lunches, putting on dresses and pretending to be actors. It’s recently come to light that at least four and a half of them were old lady pensioners from Crawley.

The head of the BBC came up with a revolutionary notion: “Let’s tell people that this debacle wasintentional. We’re, uh, experimenting — Yes! Now there’s a word that captures the zeitgeist — Hodgkins, are you getting all of this? Good. — So, we’re experimenting with a new format, something no-one’s ever tried before. Gentlemen,” said the topmost Top Executive of the BBC, smacking his fist on the table, “we can turn this around. Fear not the wrath of the House of Lords. I’m going to put such a spin on this disaster, it’ll make the Second Coming look like two mentally-handicapped children trying to light their beefers on fire.”

So, what can Monty Python teach you about writing a novel, story or play?


Not much, admittedly, but keep reading to find out.



Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will make me go in a corner and cry by myself for hours.

Eric Idle


Eric Idle

A Younger Eric Idle


There are two kinds of violence — physical and psychological.

Messing with someone’s mind causes lasting trauma, and the deepest scars are the ones you can’t see.

Combine physical abuse with mind games and you turn people into wild animals. Nothing dehumanizes a character and damages their core like a bunch of lies and broken promises.

Human relationships are built on trust and survive on fulfilled expectations. Consistent language and behavior are the glue that holds the trust network together.

A character that promises one thing and delivers another (the typical shapeshifter/betrayer) uses language to hurt and deceive. Whoever promises one thing and delivers on that promise — or dies trying — can rightly be called a hero.

We don’t think about it on a daily basis, but ‘heroes’ and ‘villains’ use language in very different ways.




Every age sort of has its own history. History is really the stories that we retell to ourselves to make them relevant to every age. So we put our own values and our own spin on it.

Terry Jones


Wafer Thin

Wafer Thin


Values change: your Shakespeare is not Orson Welles’s, though there may be points of contact. We don’t read Greek tragedy the way ancient Greeks did, so it would be pointless to try and resurrect that superannuated form.

It is because human values aren’t eternal that we no longer fling people off the Tarpeian Rock for the crime of perjury.

As values change, so does our understanding of History and, consequentially, our understanding of fiction. 




I think you learn a lot about a country from its art. To me, it’s part of the drama of life. It teaches you that there are places, moments and incidents in other cultures that genuinely have a life of their own.

Michael Pallin


Younger Michael Pallin

Younger Michael Pallin


Nothing brings a fictional world to life with more efficacy than a sudden glance at a painting, or two characters sharing a prayer, maybe invoking the name of a god.

Every human culture has proverbs, art, food — because every culture has a past. A country’s history underlies that country’s present woes, as no society exists in a vacuum.

In real life, the inhabitants of the bottled city of Kandor wouldn’t stay sane for very long.


Art is the place where collective meets individual expression and, as such, has the potential to weave many a silent thread into your story, to cast a transient light on the deep well of memory that a fictive society draws from.




For me, the great problem growing up in England was that I had a very narrow concept of what God can be, and it was damn close to an old man with a beard.

John Cleese


Younger John Cleese

Younger John Cleese


Cultures are self-reinforcing mechanisms, at least while the economy that sustains them is vital and capable of adaptive growth.

Nothing destroys a culture over the long term the way abuse of authority and widespread corruption do.


You see, poverty is no friend to diversity. The poorer you are, the fewer resources you can allocate. Keeping up with novelty becomes harder and harder until you cross a threshold where anything new, any innovation, be it technological or social, is something of a threat.

When a paranoid mindset takes over a human group, the group will either break up to allow for cultural renewal or slowly wither and die. It goes without saying that hypervigilance is a cancer, and fear makes for a monotonous backdrop.




I got my head bashed in at a demonstration against the Vietnam War. Police were losing control because they were up against a world they really didn’t understand.

Terry Gilliam


Terry Gilliam

Terry Gilliam (almost)


Drama needs tension.

No tension, no story.


Generational conflict is inexhaustible. The old want stability, the young want change. What happens when an irresistible force collides with an immovable object? Stuff goes BOOM.

Out of that boom, that chaos, comes new order. Call it ‘creative destruction’ if you like.

If you have people with clearly defined, opposing goals, you have the makings of a good story.




It’s nice to see that look of alarm on the faces of the others.

Graham Chapman


Younger Graham Chapman

Younger Graham Chapman


Chapman was the odd one out. He wasn’t there for the writing sessions — he would simply show up for rehearsals and recording sessions, often drunk.7

OK, he wasn’t the poster boy for a healthy lifestyle, but the other Pythons looked up to him. Chapman was a gifted, versatile actor who could imbue silly characters with unexpected pathos. Chapman’s Arthur in Quest for the Holy Grail will always be my favorite incarnation of the character. To the best of my knowledge, he was the only King Arthur to run away from a white bunny. (Granted, that bunny was dynamite.)

At Chapman’s funeral service, John Cleese gave his friend a rather tongue-in-cheek sendoff as, he explained, Chapman would have wanted him to shock people on his behalf.

All this to say that there’s some value in shocking people, especially if you mean something by it. Real shock is when you feel the blood freezing in your veins, when something disgusts you so deeply, and so deeply disturbs your sense of justice, that you rebel against it with your whole self, your whole body and being. Shock is opportunity.

Many writers, not a few of the Tinseltown variety, betray their narrowness of mind and poor education when they substitute potty humor for actual provocation.


Comedy works best when it challenges prejudice, not when it indulges a fixation on bodily fluids.


Other posts by John Magnet Bell that you will find perfectly woody:

Woody Allen
Mel Brooks
John Cleese


About John Magnet Bell

John is a professional translator, writer and photographer. He writes about writing and he writes unconventional flashes of fiction at his website, Start Your Novel. Why? John explains his passion here.

Twitter: @StartYourNovel
Google+: JMBell
Tumblr: http://johnmagnetbell.tumblr.com/
Website: Start Your Novel

Please support John so that he can keep writing epic prompts! You can buy his shocking art at society6: http://society6.com/johnmagnetbell


John Magnet Bell Surtur

John Magnet Bell, Surtur



A Review Of Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah”: Tell Your Grandma To Bring The Car Around, She Might Not Like This One

Noah is a movie directed by Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, The Wrestler, The Fountain, Requiem for A Dream), and is about the Old Testament Bible story of Noah. You know the one. No, not the “let my people go” guy, the one with the big partyboat with all the animals.

The trailers for this movie were sort of deceiving. I wouldn’t say they lied to you about anything but they did kind of omit a lot of the more interesting parts of the story. It looked like one of those epic history movies but with Bible people and for some reason there was a firesword powered by god in the trailer. Well… Those are part of the movie, alright, but I would like to point at the director again. Darren Aronofsky scoffs at the idea of making a normal movie.

I’m not a religious person but I do have a fascination with religious mythology and the Old Testament is a well of all sorts of weird and kind of cool mythical lore that hasn’t been plundered as much as others, and Aronofsky seems to hold the same view on it.

Most direct adaptations of Bible stories are usually made by Christian filmmakers for Christian film audiences, so they usually range from inoffensive but boring to audiences that are not devout Christians to mildly offensive conservative propaganda to snuff films made by crazy drunk religious psychopaths.

Mel Gibson can't believe I said that and now believes I'm in alliance with the Jewish mafia

Oh yes, Road Warrior, this movie is… Actually, even though it does have it’s fair share of Old Testament-level violence it’s nowhere near as violent as Passion of the Christ.

Honestly this movie isn’t even that insane if you think about it, it’s actually all and all a pretty faithful adaptation of the story and tone of the Old Testament, it tackles pretty much all the focal points of the story. Cain’s descendants are dickbags who don’t care about who or what they destroy, which has led to ruination of God’s green earth, so God wants to drown them all in a flood. Noah and his children are the last from the line of Seth (the third son of Adam and Eve, the one that wasn’t a dickbag but didn’t get ganked), who are a bunch of nomads and one day Noah gets visions of the flood, which leads to the revelation of building the arc to shelter the creatures free of sin.

Really, the movie delves deeper in to the myth than most religious adaptations of it, it brings in things like the Nephelim who helped Noah as a way to redeem themselves to god and also things like how everyone is kind of related already because creationism but people still need to bone to continue the line and how the closer you are in generation to the first of men the more superhuman things you can do like crazy longevity and strength and even some supernatural things.

The acting in the movie is pretty good.  Russel Crowe is really good as Noah, he’s tough and isn’t afraid to shank Cainites who want to get on his godboat but does show that he’s still a man with a conscience and he doesn’t take his choices lightly.

Jennifer Connelly plays his wife and looks super haggard and old throughout the movie. She’s pretty good but there is one scene in the movie with her crying and begging Noah to reconsider a choice where she does go in to kind of funny diva acting territory.

Emma Watson plays Ila, an orphan girl that Noah adopts who becomes the wife of one of Noah’s sons, and as far as the younger actors in the movie she is hands down the best one. Hell, the only good one.

Noah’s three sons, Shem, Ham (lel) and Japheth are pretty mediocre actors and spend most of the movie in the background doing nothing of note. Except for Ham. Ham’s substory is kinda funny because it’s him spending half the movie crying about how there aren’t any girls for him to stick his dinger in to and then the other half is him being “fuck you dad! [impotent crying intensifies]”

Mickey Rourke plays Tubal-Cain, the king of the Cainites and the sort of antagonist of the movie. He’s good, makes for a solid villain.

And Sir Anthony Hopkins plays Methuselah, the grandfather of Noah and longest living man according to the Bible. I wasn’t sure if he was supposed to be a villain at first because this is Hannibal Lecter but instead he’s more like my grandpa if he was a mountain hermit with some jesuspowers of the first men.

That’s pretty much it for the actors.

The movie’s visuals are pretty interesting. The CG isn’t realistic but it sort of tries to be, but I don’t think this is bad effects work (like a Shayamalan movie) as the effects do actually have some beautiful shots. I think the idea was to create a sort of storybook aesthetic as these are stories retold through generations. It’s a weird comparison but it’s kind of like the 2013 Riddick movie where the effects aren’t what you would consider top of the line but they do sort of create the aesthetic of paintings in some shots.

The movie has the Nephelim, who in this are these malformed rock giants who were once angels that god was disappointed in, and they are great to look at, as they look both strong and horrifying but also very sad and pitiful. They’re not CG on the level of Transformers but they’re designed and animated in a way that creates way more sympathy for these creatures than the highest resolution renders exhaust flaps on identical flipping robots destroying Chicago.

And this movie also incorporates actual science in to it, which probably makes fundamentalists way madder than the shanking and talks of boning in this movie.

Noah Movie By Darren Aronofsky - Nephilem - Giant Monster - Poster / Concept Art

The best sequence in the movie is when Noah tells the myth of creation where the days are a metaphor for billions of years, starting with the big bang, the forming of stars and solar systems, the forming of earth, the origins of life in the ocean to dinosaurs all the way to man and even in the time of Noah it’s implied that evolution still has a way to go because there’s stuff like dogs with armadillo skins.

So, overall,  I really liked this movie. I don’t think it’s even all that offensive to Christian audiences if they’re not the kind that takes the Bible’s word as scientific fact.  I came to see the movie because I heard of all the weird things in it but it ended up being a movie where I actually got invested in what’s happening.

“The Raid 2 : Berandal” Review – A Bigger And Better Martial Arts Experience

This movie, man.  This movie.

The Raid : Redemption was a 2012 martial arts movie filmed in the Philippines and directed by Welsh filmmaker Gareth Evans. And it was one of the best movies of that year and one of the best action movies made in at least the past 10 years. And now The Raid : Redemption looks pretty quaint in comparison to it’s sequel.

This movie is much bigger and improves upon every aspect of the previous one. The first one had a pretty simplistic plot and characters, the second one has a more complicated plot and stronger characterization. The level of acting was completely fine in the first one but in the second one there are stronger performances by the returning actors as well as several new ones including Takashi Miike regular Kenichi Endo and the Nightmare Detective, Ryuhei Matsuda as members of a yakuza family in Jakarta. And with the larger cast and resources, you a lot more action scenes in a large variety of locations and circumstances.

While I don’t want to give away too much of the story, because it has a lot of frequent twists, the basic premise is this: The main character of the previous movie is sent deep undercover in the criminal underworld of Jakarta to find evidence of the link between organized crime and corruption in the higher ranks of the police force and ends up being sucked in to a highly destructive gang war caused by a conspiracy.

Iko Uwais, who plays Rama, the main character, was a pretty generic boyscout-ish good cop who also happened to be some kind of god of fighting. In the second one he’s still the least corrupt person but he does show more acting chops. He makes a pretty convincing thug and throughout the events of the movie his performance does show that Rama is getting tired of the constant fighting not just physically but also mentally because it’s now consuming his whole life.

Arifin Putra plays Uco, the son of the mob boss Rama works for, and is really good at playing this slimy, arrogant spoiled idiot who you want to punch in the face and is a pretty effective villain alongside Bejo,  a mysterious crippled gangster with a small army of assassins at his disposal.

But that’s not what you want to hear about? You want to hear about the awesome fighting, right? Yeah!!

Oh man. This movie has some of the best fights I’ve ever seen in a martial arts movie. Like, the hallway fight and the last fight between the brothers and Mad Dog in the first movie were great fights but pretty much every fight in this movie is like those but better. You have Iko Uwais versus dozens of angry thugs armed with anything pointy or heavy enough in tight spaces, large rooms and open areas. You have several one on one fights with crazy and awesome assassin characters, with the final one on one being the most brutal kitchen fight since Riki-Oh.

Yayan Ruhian, who played Mad Dog in the first movie, returns as a different but very similar character and has two amazing action scenes. Julie Estelle and Very Tri Yulisman play two assassin siblings credited as Hammer Girl and Baseball Bat Man, who are insane and awesome murder machines and Cecep Arif Rahman as “The Assassin”, who I won’t say anything about besides “oh my god I can’t this fight is too good oh shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit yooooooooooooooo”.

There’s also a really great car chase with cars flipping and crashing and people shooting each other  that is destructive enough but doesn’t turn in to a boring car spectacle like in A Good Day to Die Hard or the new Need for Speed movie.

So yeah. I think you should watch the first one and then find the nearest place where they’re showing The Raid 2 : Berandal and watch it. Several times. It’s the best martial arts movie in decades and shows what actual talent behind and in front of the camera with actual work ethic can do and puts the mediocre results of bloated budgets and overproduced focus tests of Hollywood to shame.

The Raid 2 : Berandal official poster

The Raid 2 : Berandal is in theaters now and you need to pay real cash money to see it because I don’t think you’ll see a better martial arts explosion on the big screen in a long time.

The Walking Dead – Derp Le Derp & The Merle Of Derpdom

In Part 2 of my three-part article over at ZombieCast.net, I share some of the things that make us fans scream inside of our heads.  These moments of WTF, lazy writing, lack of common sense, and simply unbelievable plot developments all fall under the umbrella of DERP!  Oh, and there’s lots of derpdom in The Walking Dead (Andrea and Merle, anyone?), whether you love the show or hate it.

I would have called the series The Walking Derp, but that’s already been taken by a clever little animation on NewGrounds about Daryl’s relentless search for Sophia.  While I laughed at the animated short, I think this aspect of the plot was not by any means derpy.  I think most of us would have searched for Sophia, even if the odds of her surviving were super low.

That there reminds me of what makes The Walking Dead so special: we’re able to suspend our belief because they focus more on the psychology behind decisions and the development of characters.  We are immersed in a world that could very well come to be one day.  If we were hit by such adversity, I believe most would want to maintain all humanity and everyday living that we could.  That means we would want to protect our loved ones, build homes, and do other things that may not seem practical for survival.

As such, one could postulate that merely surviving is not truly living.  Andrea was faced with that very plight and would have chosen suicide if it hadn’t been for Dale.  Making tough decisions while balancing logic between pure survival and doing what is humane, fair, or just..  That’s what makes the dynamics of TWD so awesome!

Where the derpdom sets in is when characters make decisions that make no sense, even under duress.  I would say that the writers are creating tons of filler now until they build up to something really awesome.  There are events that are clearly written for the sake of creating sensational television; meanwhile, the realism of these events is questionable, at best.  Well, enough of that, if you want to see exactly what I mean, check out ZombieCast!

The Walking Dead's Michonne: Comic Vs. Show Version

One last thought…  I like Michonne as a character but she feels a bit out of place.  They’re finally developing her in the second half of Season 4 but her super-hero-like powers seem to be a detriment to the show.  Suddenly, the tension and realism of it all seems to be far less than what we saw in the first three seasons.

In the comic setting, I think Michonne works really well but, on the television show, I am not so sure.  The way everything has been set up, everyone feels vulnerable and we can picture real-life people trying to survive.  Every character (except for the throw-away characters that are only introduced to be killed off soon after) has shown a wide range of emotion, personality traits, motivations, and derpyness until Michonne showed up.  Even Daryl has had his close calls and derpy decisions.

In the opening of Season 4 Part II (a.k.a. Season 4.5), we have seen that Michonne is being rounded out more.   She clearly has some screws loose so it’s nice to see what made her so tough.  Hopefully they will humanize her enough to keep the realism up on the show.  We shall see how things develop!

It’s time to sound off, geeks and zombies!

  • Does The Walking Dead immerse you in a realistic (or at least believable), post-apocalyptic world or do you treat the show merely as an imaginary place or brief escape?
  • Is Michonne too badass for the show’s own good?
  • What would you say is the dumbest thing that has happened on The Walking Dead yet?
  • Choose your Derp King: Team Governor or Team Rick?

Sound off in the comments below!

Check out the full three-part article over at ZombieCast.net – http://www.zombiecast.net/post/76655610924 – tweet the post, follow ZCast on Tumblr, and reblog it away.  Don’t forget to connect with me, Yomar (a.k.a. Yogizilla), on Tumblr!

The Walking Dead – Quick Recap, Predictions, and Derp Moments

The Walking Dead Season 4.5 (the second half of Season 4, if you prefer) is upon us so I figured I would jump on the bandwagon and finally catch up on the show.  After a marathon session of over 20 episodes of about three to five hours of viewing fun at a time, I have now joined the rest of the world.

I love what they’ve done so far.  *SPOILERS!!*  I’m glad Shane and The Governor are both dead.   Talk about epic pricks.  These guys were such narcissists and people did not seem to catch on.  Sooooo frustrating that all the deaths and drama could have been avoided.

After watching so many episodes consecutively, it’s hard to see what they will do next.  I see some parallels between the TWD show and We’re Alive podcast.  I hope they borrow some ideas from there.  Let’s see some hardcore baddies and none of this borderline stuff.  I want Borderlands-style psychopath bandits.  The problem with The Governor is that it was easy to feel sorry for him.   Some feel that he was a necessary evil.  They humanized him too much, even after what he did to Maggie..  That bastard!

Andrea from The Walking Dead..  DERP SUPREME!

But I digress…  Let’s talk about Andrea.  She was the SUPREME DERP.  I wanted to like Andrea, I really did.  I understood her despair, I’ve been there, but she was just too much of a derp.

Of course, the writers are to blame here but still..  Andrea went from wanting to kill herself to wanting to prove herself.  In all her stupidity and over-zealousness she almost snipes Daryl.  She was volatile as hell and, just when you think she can’t get dumber, she hooks up with Shane..  and eventually The Governor.  YUCK.  Listen, there were plenty of guys to choose from.  Be a hornball all you want but at least stay away from the scumbags!

I suppose for all the flaws with the creative direction and plot holes, I can’t complain.  The fact that the show got me so fired up and emotionally-attached again proves that they’re doing something right.  It all comes down to the characters right now, and the cast is dwindling down.

I really dig the dynamics between Maggie and Glenn.  I’m really sad to see Hersh go but I guess he had a good run.  Carl is less annoying and more mature now so that’s good.  Daryl still kicks ass.  Rick is broken.  Carol has gone rogue.  Everyone else seems expendable or forgettable.  Mark my words: Bob (the drunk black guy and Army medic) is going to be an issue for our beloved survivors.

The bar has been set high.  For this show to continue to thrive, Rick needs to get it together and re-unite his camp.  Something worse than The Governor and the recent outbreak is coming.  They need to be ready.  What lies ahead?…

Check out the full three-part article over at ZombieCast.net – http://www.zombiecast.net/post/76175078408 – tweet the post, follow ZCast on Tumblr, and reblog it away!