Comics, Movies, Video Games, and More

"Making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."

~Ephesians 5:16

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 'The Adventure Begins' Review

Pac-Man is what Superman is to comics, the original video game character. Predating Sonic, Mega Man, and even Mario, 'leamonball' (as pinkie in this cartoon refers to him as) is the first video game character, first appearing in the arcade classic circa 1980. The game has remained a classic, almost everyone has played it at least once. (If you haven't, go here quickly to avoid the shame!) Like Mario and Sonic, Pac-Man is an evolving character. He made the leap to 3D in Pac-Man World. He has since been passed his prime, but with this cartoon and an upcoming game people are looking forward to, the yellow ball of fury looks to be making a comeback. (And an appearance in the next Super Smash Bros. isn't too far fetched.) This show's marketing has been truly awful, I wouldn't be surprised if the majority of people didn't know there's a Pac-Man cartoon currently airing. It doesn't really matter, because they're not missing much.

The story follows Pac, (whom apparently is a high school student) who accidentally releases the ghosts on Pac-World. Their leader is Betrayus, whom wishes to rule Pac-World. With the help of his friends and some berries, Pac goes on a journey into the Netherland to rescue the Tree of Life Betrayus had stolen. First off, you'll notice the show took the route of making Pac-Man a teenager. Why? It seems to be the popular thing these days, high school stories. Iron Man: Armored Adventures started this trend, and Ultimate Spider-Man is continuing it. Even the latest host of Japanese hero Ultraman will be a high school student. The second thing you'll notice is that the show is taking a comedic approach. This too seems to be the popular thing in action shows these days. Well written serious action shows like Young Justice and Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes have been replaced with Teen Titans GO! and Avengers Assemble. It's the winning approach in cartoons these days, which is hopefully a fad. Or it's a sign of the times. Now, this show isn't awful. I can't say I'll be sticking with it, but it's a decent kids cartoon.

The story is generally okay. The Pac-Man games have never been known for their expansive plots, so what we got here is good enough. Pac is just starting out as a hero, so he's basically an amatuer that likes food. The first thing you'll notice is his awful voice. Maybe it would have been best if he didn't talk at all like Kirby in his anime. His two friends, Spiral and Cylindria (the latter whom is voiced by Andrea Libman, who also does Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, I knew I recognized her!) are decent enough characters. Thankfully they don't sink down to 'comic relief sidekicks.' The antagonist, Betrayus is actually the most interesting character. His backstory with being the brother of the President of Pac-World was interesting, and he's just a blast to watch on screen

The CGI is surprisingly fantastic. The theme song is one of the best parts of the show, first starting out with the classic arcade theme then going into lyrics. I like how the show uses some of the sound effects from the original game, a very nice touch. The Ghosts, Clyde, Blinky, Pinkie, and Inky look to be main characters. The names will fly over kids' heads, but longtime fans will get a smile. But that's pretty much it for references/things older fans can enjoy, you can tell the show is pandering to its younger target audience with no intention of an older audience joining in. Such things such as the use of not one, but two burps and just the goofy atmosphere keeps the premiere from being called 'great.' I don't see it going beyond the realm of average, but who knows. At least the CGI is nice to look at.

Overall, Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is off to a pretty much expected start. If you're expecting anything other than a kids show using the name of Pac-Man in a high school setting, you will be sorely disappointed. Instead, go watch the cutscenes of Pac-Man World for a more serious (and I would say better) take.


Friday, June 21, 2013


MAN OF STEEL is the most anticipated film of this year for many reasons. Obviously the primary reason is that it's Superman's first live action appearance since the rather disappointing and boring Superman Returns seven years ago. It makes you think what DC had been doing that whole time with their movies. They had the successful Batman trilogy, but that's it. Green Lantern bombed, and Jonah know that story. (It makes you wonder how we got a Jonah Hex movie before Wonder Woman or Flash.) Superman is the original superhero, he will always remain timeless. So it's always the right time for a new movie. This one is a reboot, which is appropriate since by now we could use a clean slate. It's an origin story, which when first announced didn't receive the best response. It's pretty much the same thing with The Amazing Spider-Man, the origin is one of the most well known. Everyone knows how Superman came to be. But, amazingly, after watching it I thought it was actually good they retold the origin. It was done in a whole new way, and thus shows the world what Superman is all about. Zack Snyder directs, he received mixed responses from the beginning. I'm a fan of his work, such as Watchmen and Sucker Punch, but he has a lot of haters. With him and Christopher Nolan of Warner Bros.' The Dark Knight trilogy, this film feels like a combination between the two collaborators. What we have is not only the greatest Superman movie, but a very unique comic book film.

The story follows Kal-El, who was sent away from his dying world Krypton. He crash lands on Earth and is taken in by the Kents, Jonathan and Martha. He learns to cope with his superhuman abilities for 33 years. But when General Zod, escapee from the Phantom Zone, comes to make a new Krypton on our planet, Kal dons the uniform and battles this intergalactic terrorist. This movie could be said as a combination of the first two Donner films and The Dark Knight. It's very serious, much like the Nolan movies. Some may be disappointed since Batman is where the gritty should be, not Superman. But the tone works for this kind of story. The opening on Krypton is one of the best scenes of the entire two hour and 23 minutes. It's remarkable because for the first time in movie history, we get to see a fully realized Krypton. Even in comics has it barely been shown like this. It's truly an insightful and glorious thing to behold. (From creatures to robots, there's plenty to see.) There's some great action here, with Zod and Jor-El. Definitely the most exciting intro in awhile.

Once we head to Earth, things get really interesting. Humanity has always seen Superman as a being above them, someone to look up to and strive to be like. In many cases, as Jor-El states in the beginning, Superman is like a god to humanity. Seemingly invincible and perfect in every way. This reboot spins that in a whole new direction. The story humanizes Superman, showing us he has some of the same emotions we do. The movie does an excellent job showing that through flashbacks to when he was a kid. We see him enjoying the ability to fly, but then crashes like a rookie. This is something that lacked in the Donner films. That's not a bad thing, but it's interesting to see such a take. While this is definitely Superman's story, General Zod's plot is pretty interesting. One of my personal favorite scenes is when the power went out in Metropolis, and Zod appeared on all TV screens throughout demanding that Kal-El surrender. It's reminiscent of the Mandarin's TV screen appearances in Iron Man 3, which is a good thing. It captures the terror of not understanding what's going on.

Henry Cavill plays the titular character. I really liked his portrayal, perfect for a just starting out Superman. Despite having a grim tone, he retains his sense of humor and matter-of-fact way of speaking. (Such as when he uses his x-ray vision in the questioning scene.) It's good to see since the film is such a serious take. Michael Shannon plays the antagonist, General Zod. While he lacks the charisma of the original from Superman II, (mainly cause he doesn't shout 'kneel' once) it's a solid take on the popular villain. Interestingly, the film goes out its way to say Zod isn't truly evil, rather he's doing what he was bred to do, protect Krypton. It's an interesting dynamic, since there comes a point where Superman has to choose between humanity and his own people. Amy Adams plays Lois Lane. She does have more of a fighter attitude, as opposed to always getting kidnapped then being saved by the hero, which was nice to see. However, I'm sad to say the romance aspect of the film could have been handled better. It's Superman and Lois Lane, we know they're going to get together, so the film doesn't do the best job it could have in establishing the relationship. (Well, at least it beats Thor's awful and forced romance.)

Other characters include the famous Laurence Fishburne as Perry White. Much like the Kingpin in Daredevil, ethnicities were changed. He plays the part of Perry well. The other villain is Faora, first officer to Zod. She was definitely a highlight, it's great to see such a strong female villain. There's a third member to Zod's party, but he doesn't do much and isn't named. Kevin Costner plays Jonathan Kent, someone who was influential in Clark's growing up. It's a solid performance with plenty of wise words. But, one part will always bother me and ruin his credibility. He basically tells Clark he should have let the kids on the school bus die as opposed to saving them. I understand what he was saying, but it just came out morally wrong. That will always stick out to me. Diane Lane plays Martha Kent, very solid job. I enjoyed every scene she was in. Russell Crowe plays Jor-El, who has a great presence throughout. Never before has Superman's father been portrayed like this.

The highlight of the movie is definitely the action scenes. The primary problem with Superman Returns was a lack of action, Superman didn't throw a single punch. So when the first blow is felt here, it's monumental. Never before has a movie come close to showing off Superman's power and speed like this. I put emphasis on speed cause it's fully realized here. There are two major action pieces, the one with Faora and the final battle against Zod. Both are amazingly done and extremely satisfying. They put ALL other comic book movie action scenes to shame. Even The Avengers didn't have such great hand-to-hand fights like these. I give credit to Zack Snyder, who has shown he can do some pretty intense action sequences. The soundtrack is pretty solid, nothing great, but acceptable. One of my favorite scenes is when Clark visits a church and asks the pastor for advice. It's rare that we see godliness being portrayed as good in movies today, so it was nice to see.

Overall, Man of Steel is the new definitive Superman movie. This is the most vivid and realistic take on the origin. Never before have we seen Kal-El's journey from confused kid to Earth's defender this well done. The action is by far the best from any superhero movie. It's also great to see the more comic book aspect of the universe, such as the use of the Phantom Zone. The ending is a nice tip of the hat to the franchise and firmly sets up the status quo we all know and love for the sequel. Superman is back, and has never been more real.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Ultraman Manga: Chapter Sixteen Review

This chapter of the Ultraman Manga is very light on the action and instead focuses on explaining exactly what this mysterious city is. The previous chapter was also not action heavy, but still had some very interesting dialogue. The story is getting bigger by the chapter. No real monsters yet, this is more of an Ultra7-like story than Ultraman, which is fine of course. Here we have something that asks more questions than providing answers. It's interesting for sure, and the ending Ultra-fans will like. (Only they will understand.)

Moroboshi shows Shinjiro the 'city of aliens.' No one knows exactly where it is, it can be travelled only via portal. Here the former explains to the latter exactly what's the purpose of being there and takes him to the 'informer.' This informer is one of the most unexpected things to come out of the story. What I like about this manga is that even when there's no punches being thrown, it's exciting. As an Ultra-fan, it's interesting to see this expanded mythos tale. This city brings about another interesting plot point. This is where apparently non-'trying to take over your world' alien types hang around. I'm hoping we get to learn more about it. Beyond that, not much happens. The 'big' thing is the ending. It's similar to when Moroboshi first appeared, except this time the guy in question is named Jack. This is of course referring to Ultraman Jack, another Showa Ultra. This is exciting, it shows the author has big plans down the road and isn't afraid to take his time.

Overall, a solid chapter. We see a city full of aliens and the arrival of this Jack character. I'm very curious and interested in seeing where the story goes, the Ultra Manga has yet to falter.