Renaissance News Vol. 2 Issue 10

Spring has spring and that means baseball is once again being played on fields ‘cross the nation. And next to those fields are bleachers on which you will likely find me. That’s where I was last Saturday rooting my Yankees to utter domination over the Angels (yes, they won because I was there). Unfortunately the sun seems to be an Angels fan because it utterly scorched my face. I am enduring the blunt edge of the staff’s wit, and-no-no one put a cigar out on my face multiple times. I don’t care how much it looks like that. I understand there’s a lot of pent up wit revenge waiting out there for me, and I will take it like a trooper. I will smile and listen to all your clever, clever sayings. And then I’ll put out a cigar on your face. To the news!

  • For Maddenaholics, the cover athlete and recipient of the annual Madden curse, will be New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees.
  • Due to the delays in beginning production, The Hobbit is now looking at a December 2013 release date. Shut up. You’re not angrier than I am.
  • Oscar winning director Bill Condon (Chicago) will direct Twilight: Breaking Dawn. I don’t want to hear about it. Some people care about Twilight even if those people are WRONG.
  • Ricky Gervais will return to host the Golden Globes this year.
  • Warner Bros. and IMAX have signed a deal to release 20 future films in IMAX theatres including The Hobbit, Batman 3, Superman, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
  • Clash of the Titans has done well enough that Titans 2 is slated for summer 2012. Sam Worthington is expected to return before shooting Avatar 2.
  • I know it’s been several weeks since we’ve had Smurfs news and I will not disappoint you again. Paul Reubens has joined the stellar cast as Jokey Smurf. I love that I don’t even have to make stuff up with this one.
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2 (my title? Damn, This Dragon is Untrainable!) is slated for Spring 2013.
  • Stoked that we’ve gotten this far without 3D news? Well The Ring 3D is coming atcha soon!
  • In less than a week of release, Avatar has sold a record 6.7 million DVDs and Blu Ray discs.
  • Have you been missing Cary Elwes in your yearly Saw movies? Well he’s back for Saw VII and, yes, before you ask, also in 3D.
  • Anchorman 2 looks like it will start production in February 2011.
  • TNT has ordered a 10 episode third season of Southland.
  • Looks like Ghost Rider 2 is going forward without Nic Cage.
  • DVD Release Dates:
    The Crazies, June 29th
    Shutter Island, June 8th
  • Ridley Scott has announced his Alien prequel will be a two-movie saga.
  • In my favorite casting news in quite some time, Mickey Rourke will play Genghis Khan.
  • Pixar has announced Monster’s Inc. 2 and a movie entitled Brave for 2012.
  • Box Office
    1. How to Train Your Dragon, $15.4 million
    2. The Back-Up Plan, $12.2 million
    3. Date Night, $10.5 million
    4. The Losers, $9.4 million
    5. Kick Ass, $9.3 million
  • Rolling Stone Top 5 Album Charts
    1. “My World’s 2.0” by Justin Bieber
    2. “Congratulations” by MGMT
    3. “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum
    4. “Raymond V Raymond” by Usher
    5. “Year of the Black Rainbow” by Coheed & Cambria
  • Best Selling Video Games
    1. Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction, XBOX 360
    2. Pokemon Heart Gold, DS
    3. Wii Sports, Wii
    4. Wii Fit Plus, Wii
    5. New Super Mario Bros., Wii
  • New York Times Hardcover Fiction Bestsellers
    1. The Shadow of Your Smile by Mary Higgins Clark
    2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
    3. Changes: Book 12 of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
    4. Caught by Harlan Coben
    5. Every Last One by Anna Quindlen

Planet 51

It takes quite a lot for a move to be utterly worthless. Take a steaming pile of aardvark excrement like Transformers 2. Had great F/X and a beautiful score. There. I found something nice to say about one of my least favorite films of all-time. So keep that perspective in mind when I tell you that Planet 51 is a big, fat, honking zero. Squadoosh. Nothing. Nada. Zip. No points. Not even a .25. It’s like an animated film made by the same chimpanzees who are locked in the proverbial room with typewriters trying to crank out Shakespeare. No, no, I’m sorry. That was insulting to the chimps, and I take that back. This was worse than that. It’s painful. Every word of the script is painfully bad and that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is counted upon to deliver a lot of them is not helpful. It’s premise is that a U.S. astronaut lands on an alien world that is for some reason identical to 1950’s America except that it’s populated by green frog-like people. That’s about as highbrow as the humor gets. It’s awful. Am I being clear? Avoid this movie like you would feces thrown by the aforementioned chimps. Though if you are hit, you’ll have more fun than watching this film.

The Blind Side

The Blind Side isn’t a football movie. It did phenomenaly well at the box office, so it wasn’t a failure of marketing, but I was under the impression walking in that, since this was a story about a football player, based on a book written by a sports writer, that there might be football. There is all of seven or so minutes of football. The rest of the movie focuses on the true story of Baltimore Ravens OT Michael Oher and how he came to live with a rich, white family in Memphis during high school. It’s a wonderful story and it’s heartwarming. There’s nothing wrong with the movie and I appreciated seeing Christianity depicted in the movie as a force for good and not a punchline or oppression. What I don’t get at all is WHY it’s such a huge it, why it was nominated for best picture, and why Sandra Bullock beat out Carey Mulligan and Meryl Streep to win an Oscar for this role. It’s not bad. It’s a good movie. But it’s good and not great. I won’t remember much about this film more than a week from now. Bullock is great-for her. I didn’t sit there thinking I was watching Sandra Bullock just do the same thing she’s always done, but there’s no comparison between this and some of the other roles from last year. It’s a nice movie, uplifting, and the photos of the real people that play over the end credits are an especially nice touch. Great rental, but don’t go in expecting any more than that.

Superman: Braniac

I don’t like Superman. Or, rather, I did not. Until recently he’d been completely uninteresting to me as a character. I had tried him, don’t get me wrong. I’d seen all four increasingly horrid Superman movies. I watched the 1950’s TV show. I watched the 1990’s animated series. I’d read stacks of comics. I even hung with Smallville until about the time Kristen Kreuk got possessed by a ninja (oh it happened, people). The character was boring. The problem with a man so super as to be invulnerable is that you make him unrelatable. You don’t believe he’s ever in danger. He always does the right thing. He’s consistently depicted as a near-Christ figure with the emphasis on the “super” rather than the “man” he was raised as.

The first time the character completely resonated with me was in Superman Returns. I’ll never understand why the movie fared as poorly as it did because to me it was absolutely perfect. It remains one of my favorite comic movies of all-time, and only the fact that Chris Nolan is mentoring the next film assuages my grief that we won’t get more of Brandon Routh’s Superman.

Geoff Johns is a miracle worker of a writer. He’s literally writing half of DC’s universe right now and writing all of it well. Not just well, brilliantly. The smartest thing DC has done in 10 years is make him Creative Director of the company. He’s had seminal runs on JSA, Flash, and Green Lantern (still ongoing and something I must rave about here soon), and he teamed with James Robinson and Greg Rucka on the last few years of Superman. This particular trade, Superman: Braniac, collects a five issue arc that has to be my favorite Superman story of all-time. Johns takes Braniac and makes him the most relevant, the most hateful, and the most daunting foe in Superman’s history. As a threat, he makes Lex Luthor nearly laughable by comparison. The way Braniac is woven into Superman’s past and the impact he has on his present is so status quo changing, that no appearance of the villain will ever be the same again. It’s as shattering as when Alan Moore had the Joker cripple Barbara Gordon. The story is quite simply Superman faces Braniac truly for the first time, and if that sounds simple, it’s because Johns ideas usually are and it’s the execution where details lie and brilliance is buried. From the opening to the heart-rending last page, the script is perfect.

Just as perfect is Gary Frank’s art. Frank draws a Superman that has an uncanny resemblence to Christopher Reeve, which is startlingly vivid. Really, though, for an entire generation, Reeve IS Superman, so it’s a familiar iconic depiction that I find a lot more powerful than the Superman bursting with muscles. He’s only empowered because of the way his biology reacts to our sun. He should look otherwise like a normally fit man. Frank’s art has to carry the completely silent epilogue and captures every nuance and emotion perfectly. This is a graphic novel to hand to anyone. It’s a perfect representation of the best a super hero story can be.