Renaissance News Vol. 2 Issue 12

A belated happy mother’s day to any mother’s who read my blog, and to my own who-if she did read this blog-would try to ground me even though I’m in my thirties. To the news!

  • Xbox 360 owners will be getting the motion control system Project Natal sometime in October. The official name of the control scheme is expected to be released at next month’s E3.
  • FOX has renewed Human Target for a second season and Lie to Me for a third.
  • The possibility that Transformers 3 will not be quite the cinematic boot scraping it’s predecessor was increased significantly by the news the twin robots (I forget their names, let’s just call them Bigotbot and Rascisty) will not be returning.
  • Dreamworks is courting Tim Burton to make a movie based on the board game Monsterpocalypse.
  • Terrence Howard will play Nelson Mandela opposite Jennifer Hudson in Winnie, a biopic of Mandela’s controversial wife.
  • If you’re visiting Disneyland/world anytime before this fall, take one last ride on Star Tours. The Star Wars ride will be getting re-imagined for a 2011 reopening.
  • Pixar has canceled development of it’s animated film Newt.
  • Avatar has sold a record-shattering 19.7 million DVD/BluRay discs since it’s release. Looks like none of y’all wanted to wait for the good DVD release this fall, huh?
  • Jerry Bruckheimer has confirmed another RN rumor; that Bad Boys 3 is on the way.
  • Another Will Smith-related rumor/gone official now has a release date. Men in Black III-D will hit theatres on May 25, 2012.
  • Brad Bird (The Incredibles) has been confirmed as the director of Mission: Impossible IV.
  • Ice Age: Continental Drift will hit theatres in 2012.
  • Elizabeth Perkins will be leaving Weeds after this season to develop her own sitcom.
  • DVD Release Dates:
    Hot Tub Time Machine, June 29th
    The Simpsons
    : The Complete Thirteenth Season, August 24th
    The Wolfman, June 1st
  • Box Office
    1. Iron Man 2, $128.1 million (5th best opening of all-time)
    2. Nightmare on Elm Street, $9.1 million
    3. How to Train Your Dragon, $6.7 million
    4. Date Night, $5.4 million
    5. The Back-Up Plan, $5.0 million
  • Rolling Stone Charts Top 5 Albums
    1. Oracle by Godsmack
    2. Need You Now by Lady Antebellum
    3. The Generous Mr. Lovewell by MercyMe
    4. Live at the Troubadour by Carole King and James Taylor
    5. My World’s 2.0 by Justin Bieber
  • Video Game Best Sellers
    1. Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2, DS
    2. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, PS3
    3. Super Street Fighter IV, PS3
    4. Pokemon Heart Gold, DS
    5. Super Street Fighter IV, XBOX 360
  • New York Times Hardcover Fiction Bestsellers
    1. 9th Judgment by James Patterson
    2. Lover Mine by J.R. Ward
    3. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
    4. Deliver Us from Evil by David Baldacci
    5. Hannah’s List by Debbie Macomber

Civil War

Since we’ve been talking about Mark Millar in terms of Kick-Ass, I thought we’d look back at what has probably been his most important super hero work. Civil War consumed the Marvel Universe a few years ago. It was a true status changing event. Years later, the wounds caused by the events in Civil War are just now being healed. It was hugely hyped. It had one of Marvel’s best writers in Millar and one of its best pencillers in Steve McNiven. Reading it in issues was a hugely frustrating experience. It was plagued by delays later in the seven issue run, and there were literally 100 books that tied in to the series. You’d see one panel and one thing would happen there to-for example-Spider-Man. There would be a whole issue of Amazing Spider-Man that would expand on that event. As CW progressed, these tie-in issues would come out sometimes even before the issues they tied off of and revealed story points, and basically the entire Marvel U. ground to a halt because Steve McNiven had a lot of problems keeping books coming out on the planned schedule. So several years later, I got the trade, read through it, and tried to look at it from a standpoint of “could someone just buying this trade understand this epic story and how does it flow with just the core issues?”

If you’ve ever read a comic where heroes and villains were battling in cities and wondered to yourself why people weren’t dying like flies in the middle of this thing, Civil War is the book in which they do. A team of young heroes engages villains near an elementary school and the resulting battle causes a disaster that kills 700 civilians, mostly children. Public outrage demanded that super heroes now be accountable for their actions, registered with the government, trained, and licensed like cops. This splits the hero community in two. Iron Man heads the pro-registration group that thinks that if heroes are to survive, they need to be regulated. Captain America heads the anti-registration group that is afraid that heroes registered with the government are heroes controlled by the government and are essentially weapons to be pointed at anyone deemed “undesirable” by those currently in power. Both sides have valid arguments and the impact of this simple idea and the reverberations for each and every hero and villain in the Marvel U are profound. The first four issues are tightly plotted and each panel something gigantic is happening. Friendships and teams are torn asunder as the two biggest heroes (arguably) Iron Man and Cap wage war upon each other.

Unfortunately after issue #4 is the place where the delay occurred. The last three issues grow increasingly incoherent and I just don’t believe that the uninitiated reader would be able to follow what’s happening without having read all the tie-in issues (which I did). The end of the war has never sat well with me, but the most resonating thing that came out of the whole war which was the death of Captain America, wasn’t even included in the trade. To get the entire scope of the story, you need an omnibus with the most critical tie-in issues included with the main story. The story is good, but it’s so choppy and dispersed outside of the main title, that just reading the trade is a frustrating and incoherent experience. McNiven’s art is beautiful and not having the delay rage coloring my opinion definitely raised my opinion of it. Civil War is must read stuff for an understanding of the Marvel U in its current incarnation, but this trade will leave you mostly confused.


Biopics are imperfect. They are all fiction of a sort out of necessity. They have to invent conversations and sometimes even characters and events to make a person’s life cinematic. The best of them capture the spirit of the person and inspire you to learn more about them. Amelia Earhart is unquestionably one of the most fascinating figures of the 20th century. However, after watching her biopic, I have to conclude that either this film is a massive load of boring nonsense, or there was nothing interesting about Earhart whatsoever.

Hillary Swank, though not a favorite mine, is a talented actress and seems perfect for the role, but is given nothing to do. The entire movie is Amelia at celebrations stating how women can do anything men can do intermixed with shots of planes flying majestically while Swank reads flight poetry. That’s 70% of the movie. No effort to explore Earhart’s motivations, personality, or spirit are made. What made this woman tick? Why was she so driven to do what no woman ever had before? That’s interesting. Turning her into some kind of feminist PR machine is not interesting. This biopic has an additional problem which is-there’s no end. No one will ever know what happened to Amelia Earhart. Too much time has passed. So if you’re going to succeed at making a biopic of someone whose end is uncertain, you have to go into that final flight already in love with them, or at least so invested in their success that when she disappears it should hit you like a hammer blow. The movie completely fails to do that and fails the aviatrix it aims to honor. Not worth even a rental.

Movie Review: Nine (2009) “How Do You Waste Daniel Day-Lewis?”

Penelope Cruz in Nine

I’m not a big fan of musicals. Oddly enough, though, when you marry a big fan of musicals, you end up watching a tremendous lot of them regardless of your pre-marriage inclinations towards the genre. I can recognize a good one. Chicago-for instance-is a film I really don’t like tremendously, but I can tell you it’s a really well done musical. I use the example of Chicago, because Rob Marshall, the director of that film, made Nine. Nine is, not to mince words, not a good musical. Continue reading Movie Review: Nine (2009) “How Do You Waste Daniel Day-Lewis?”


I wonder how many idiot parents took their kids to this movie thinking it was some kind of normal super hero film. I won’t even get into the fact that it’s rated R and it’s called KICK ASS, for the love of Pete, but I had five-year-olds all over my theatre. This, for those of you have not read the miniseries by Mark Millar (who also wrote Wanted), is not a normal super hero movie. It…ok, I’m trying to think of another way to put this, but really the only way to accurately describe it (and I’m stealing this from a friend) is Kick Ass is some f@@$ed up shit. Pardon the language, but it’s completely true and we’ll just go ahead and invent the acronym FUS for future use.

The basic premise is what would happen if a normal teenager put on a costume and tried to fight crime? The answer, of course, is that he would get the holy hell beat out of him. My problem with the story, and my biggest problem with the movie, is that Millar (as is typical for him) can’t stick to this premise and the movie can’t decide what it wants to be. Is it a super hero film, action film, comedic parody, satire, or all of these at once? The original premise, which is a lot of fun and a good idea, is totally lost by the time the movie’s over. The overall story is faithful to the comic, but with a lot of little changes that I think actually improve the story.

The movie is completely stolen by Hit Girl and Big Daddy, who are vigilantes that gravitate towards Kick Ass once he goes public with his fight on crime. Hit Girl is an 11-year-old sociopath. Are you prepared to see a cute little girl cut up an entire room full of mobsters? How about watching her father shoot her in the chest while she’s wearing kevlar to make her tougher? Oh, how about watching her get in a fist fight with a mobster who repeatedly punches this 11 year old in the face? If these things may bother you, then I have to refer you to my above FUS summary. These aren’t even some of the weirdest things and they are NOTHING compared to some of the stuff in the comic. I apparently have no problem with all of this because when Hit Girl was onscreen, I loved the film. I love Nic Cage’s Big Daddy and how he adopted this horrible Shatneresque voice for when he was in costume. They completely overshadow the rest of the movie. I wanted more of them.

What I liked: the action scenes were outstanding, there were some truly funny moments, and have I mentioned how awesome Hit Girl is? What I didn’t: pointless crudity (yeah even in a movie like this), the meandering tone of the film, pop culture references that will date it, and some annoying song choices to underscore action scenes. Know what you’re walking into with it, and you’ll have some fun. Most people who do seem to like it even more than I do, but don’t fool yourselves….this is some FUS.

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