SpartanNerd Movie Review…Captain America: The Winter Soldier

 

I made it to the cheap matinee again!  How was Captain America 2?

 

The first Captain America movie did a great job of capturing the comic book character.  The Avengers movie also did.  But this movie fell flat.  It was too long.  I felt no attachment to any of the characters at all, except for Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson.)  And here I think it may be because of all of the other marvel movies I have seen that feature him.

 

And so much is going on in this movie, you almost forget the main point.  There is a person called “The Winter Soldier.”  He doesn’t really appear until too far into the movie.  And then you quickly stop caring what happens to the guy.  He is an unconnected, cold tool.  And when they finally reveal his identity, you don’t even care.

 

This movie has something else that most Marvel movies don’t have, but some Star Wars films suffer from…Political Fatigue.  There are scenes where people are just bantering for too long of periods of time.  At about the hour and fifteen minute mark, I was thinking..”Is this movie ever going to be over?”

 

Do I feel like the film advanced the Marvel Universe any?  Maybe a little.  I thought this might just be Samuel Jackson’s exit from the franchise.  It’s no secret that he is an expensive actor for the franchise.  But he makes such a good Nick Fury.  The way  the movie pans out, he might be back on a solo movie.

 

So my rating for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, is 2/5.  A rating of 1 would be what I would give Transformers: Dark of the Moon.  A rating of 5 would be James Cameron’s Avatar.  This movie bored and fatigued me to death.

SpartanNerd…The Hunt for Robin

I’m waaayyy too busy to read spoilers from “solicitations.”  So maybe I was the last to find out that they have announced the end of the whole “Damian Wayne’s death” debacle.  I read it at the end of Batman Eternal #11, in the promo-info page.  “Robin Rises.”

But a twist is here that I didn’t expect anytime soon…This is going to be a story about Apokolips!

 

I have been tempted to get this..being a fan of Darkseid.

I can barely contain my excitement about this guys.  I am really a fan of Robin.  I don’t know why, but the character always has appealed to me, differently that Batman does.  For instance I really enjoyed some of those, most of those that I read really, the solo titles featuring only Robin.  I had a Robin Annual one time that I read over and over featuring Eclipso and the Black Diamond.For me this was always Tim Drake, someone who is always getting the wrong end of the stick as far as writing goes with the New 52 comics.  He also doesn’t really get drawn well.  I like his New 52 costume.  But I don’t like his face.  I generally like him in other medium, like the Teen Titans cartoon for instance.  This is the Robin I remember the best after Dick Grayson on the old 1966 show.

 

I’d purchase this again in a second if I ever saw it again for sale!

Not sure who is in the cave in Batman #28, the spoiler issue for Batman Eternal.  Me and everyone else seems to have thought that would be Carrie Kelly as Robin.  But there is a Robin in Future’s end spoiler pages and all…a mystery Robin of the regular “boy” type, though older for sure.  Is that Damian?

We saw this image in Futures End #2 at Green Arrow’s funeral. Who is this?

 

Who is this? Maybe not Robin at all? Carrie Kelly? My first thought wasn’t Carrie. It was Cullen Row.  There is a feminine shape sort of…But Cullen is sort of feminine.  (Readers of my blog might remember an infamous post about my thoughts on Cullen as Robin.)

 

Well I can’t wait!  There is a mini-series coming out as well, Robin Rises: Omega is the first issue.   My assumption is the series will end with Alpha.  Ending to Beginning.  If Damian is brought back to life, and this is the strong implied signal, then what does that mean for Carrie Kelly, Stephanie Brown, Tim Drake, and other potential Robins?

 

I for one hope they do bring him back.  Too many Robins have been killed off.  If they want to change Robin to someone else, then they can at least still bring Batman’s son back to life, and we can get more Damian action.  I don’t want them to make him evil, either.  Bruce did a good job of reforming him.

 

What do you think, readers?  Leave a comment, let me know!

 

 

 

 

 

SpartanNerd Comics Review and Discussion…DC Weekly Title…Batman Eternal (So Far)

This review will discuss Batman Eternal #1-10

 

I was told that if I wanted to know what was going down in DC Comics, as a whole, then I’d better keep up with Batman Eternal and Futures End, two weekly titles from DC.  I don’t get a subscription for them in the mail..(You can’t, can you?)  So that means a trip to purchase them somewhere weekly, and a faithful reader of my blog knows where I get mine!

 

Stephanie Brown in the New 52

She’s Back! Wonder where the idea where the hoodie came from?

The teaser issue for Batman Eternal was Batman #28.  Stephanie Brown is back, as Spoiler no less.  That was enough for me!  Harper Row is a Hero at odds with Batman, and Catwoman has transformed back into a full-on villain.  YES!  I don’t like how cold she is, though.  There is a mystery person in the cave, who must be Carrie Kelly…if not her then I don’t know who? The teaser issue happens chronologically during the middle or last act of the story…so everything else we have gotten to read has been a build-up.

 

The first page is very disturbing.  And I think this is an image we might forget easily, but shouldn’t.  Bruce Wayne is tied to the Bat Signal, bleeding while the city burns around him.

Don't Forget It!

First Page of Batman Eternal. Don’t Forget it!

 

So far Professor Pyg has been a creepy enemy.  This is my first experience with the professor.  He’s about as nuts as they come. But Pyg has been a diversion.  My first thought was he is being played…Carmine Falcone is back, doing stuff behind the scenes manipulating Pyg.  And apparently in the New 52 continuity Falcone has been more than a scary mob boss in the past, at least according to Batman and Catwoman’s reaction to figuring it out.  “Not Him!”

There are some more villains introduced…The Penguin gets scared.  And within a few issues he is toppled as top mob leader.  Then there are the so called Minor villains…”Cluemaster” and some of his friends who I am not quite sure of…Stephanie Brown is Cluemaster’s daughter…and she overhears his plans…and begins to try and “spoil” them.  We know where this is going!  But there is another shadowy villain here that we don’t know or get to see just yet.  But Stephanie knows who it is.  The plans are to burn gotham…Let’s not forget the first page of the story!

 

Cluemaster and his super-villain buddies.

Who are these guys?

Three more plot threads…Alfred’s daughter…it seems she will be taking up Alfred’s time.  Bruce met her in Hong Kong trying to get the same mob boss as we was…someone who had beaten Falcone.  I didn’t even know he had a daughter!  Then there’s a “Nanobot Swarm,” or something.  It infects Cullen Row…Red Robin has the key to this one.    It turns out that at the end of Issue #5 Hugo Strange is involved in this story as well.

 

And the thing that I think I have the least grip on…Deacon Blackfire and Dr. Phosphorus.  Who are these guys?

Issue #10 is very pivotal, it seems. Pyg attacks Falcone. So I guess that means he isn’t working for Falcone after all! Batman convinced him that Falcone was playing him a few issues earlier. But it doesn’t seem so now. Issue #10 also suggests that Lt. Bard, of the Gotham Police is indeed routing for Batman.
So far everyone’s here except The Joker!  (I don’t expect to see him or the Riddler, both with recent stories.). Two Face committed Suicide recently.  Maybe we’ll see Mr. Freeze.

 

I don’t like how the “Bat Family” is arguing with itself so much.  Bruce and Barbara never have kind words for each other it seems.  DC hasn’t written a good Red Robin story since the New 52 started.  You’ve got Jason Todd always sulled up.  And now Dick Grayson is off the team because the world thinks he’s dead…Batman knows better, but won’t let the cat out of the bag to the “Bat Family.”  ARGGH!

What has me hooked about this book currently isn’t all of the sensationalism…instead it is the mystery element.  Who is the shadowy person giving orders to Cluemaster?  It is someone who can pull strings and remain hidden.  Someone who can be sure the Falcone gang ousts the Penguin and controls the police force…someone who can be certain that two sub trains crash head on, with the blame falling on Jim Gordon.  Who is this mastermind?  Someone ten steps ahead of everyone.  If the Joker wasn’t obviously NOT this villain, I would say it was him.  It isn’t going to be Edward Nygma…fairly certain of that.  I thought that maybe it was Catwoman.  Maybe she is behind it all.  But she is too much on the good guy side as of issue #10, and though she needs to fall a little to get where she is in the teaser issue, I don’t think she would be able to pull this off riding the fence currently.

The art has been 100% good until issue #10, where everyone seems to be scribbled.  I couldn’t recognize anyone, hardly.  I hope that doesn’t become the norm for this book.  i HATE bad comic art.

 

 

SpartanNerd Reflection…Magic the Gathering Conspiracy Draft

 

So I have drafted cards about 10 times throughout my MTG career.

And I love to play commander at home free for all style with my two boys….

Mix the two things together and you SHOULD come up with something like Conspiracy Draft, in Theory anyway.

 

We drafted this game at The Tangled Web (where else?).  The drafting was more difficult this time, however.  There were SO MANY GREAT CARDS!  My first pack had “Squirrel Nest”  “Brainstorm” “Tragic Slip” and “Swords to Plowshares.”  In a pool like that, what do you pick?  And there was a rare! But the other cards are just awesome too.  I chose “Squirrel Nest.”  (Not the best choice.)

 

You also got to draft conspiracy cards, which could be game changers.  These cards sit in your “command zone” and may or may not have a big impact on the game.  A couple let you add a booster pack to the draft, which tended to confuse things a little bit…an extra pack floating around.

 

This game offered a few new game mechanics.  The one that hurt me the most was “Will of the Council.”  Your multiplayer game of 4 or five gets to vote on two choices.  For instance, “Bite of the Black Rose” offered you to vote for “Sickness” (All creatures except for those that belong to the caster get -2/-2 until the end of the turn) or “Psychosis” (everyone discards two cards).I would have rather not had either one!  Regardless, I lost the vote EVERY TIME, because someone’s conspiracy card gave them an extra vote.  See how this game works?

 

Other multiplayer mechanics worked out better for me.  “Parley” was good for me.  I Made a Green Blue deck, and got to play “Selvala’s Enforcer.”  The Parley on the card said that everyone revealed and drew the top card.  The creature entered the battlefield with a number of counters on it determined by the non land cards revealed.  This allowed me to put some scary stuff on the board.  Too bad they didn’t fly.

I thought the game was fun, and would draft it again maybe next month given the opportunity.  My children liked it as well.  But none of us did over-the-top great.

I am going to list the upsides and the downsides of this set, and offer a rating based on that, rather than on my poor skills of drafting.

UPSIDES

U*   You get new access to a lot of iconic cards, some of which are Modern playable.  (I don’t know of anywhere that had legacy or   vintage tournaments, at least not nearby.  And if I could afford to play those formats, I guess I could fly!)

 

U*  It is a Multiplayer Draft.  TOTALLY NEW!  You get to know the other players, as well as yourself, better through this game.

 

U*  There are a few odd valuable cards in this set.  A foil “Brainstorm” came to everyones attention.  Then there’s “Dack Fayden,” a Planeswalker card just for this set, Legacy, and Vintage.  He is worth $50 currently.  I saw one opened all night at the store.

 

U*  There is some beautiful new art.  One of the cards, “Magister of Worth,” was given as the promo of rthe night, but the promo and the regular card are absolutely gorgeous.  The regular art has an angel, that reminds you sort of of 1920’s type of style.  The promo is a glamorous classic angel.

    

 

 

DOWNSIDES

D*  Believe it or not, in my “pod” of drafters, there was someone there who this was their very first Magic Tournament.  This guy was a little confused.  Conspiracy isn’t necessarily for new players.

 

D*  Many of the cards you get are not playable in any formats local to Spartanburg.  We just don’t have Legacy or Vintage tournaments.  And this is true for large swaths of the world.

 

D*  This isn’t me, but many people who are longtime collectors are complaining that some cards are being reprinted and losing value, etc.  Maybe that’s you, oh reader.

 

So I came up with four upsides and three downsides.  This set for me gets a 3/5.  If you are good at drafting, maybe you’ll like it better.  If you need old cards like I do, that will make it worth your while.  If you are brand new, this game might not be for you.

 

What do you think, oh Hub City Geeks?  Leave a comment!

SpartanNerd…Battle Royale of the MTG Challenge Decks

 

 

 

 

 

big match 3 decks

 

So I have been meaning to do this for awhile…Sorry that I haven’t even reviewed the Journey To Nyx “Defeat a God” Challenge Deck.  But it seems a little late.  The idea is to have the three decks play against each other!  Each deck is a self running machine.  But I employed the SpartanSmurfs for help!

 

I chose the Hydra…SpartanSmurf #1 chose to run the Minotaur deck (Battle the Horde)….and SpartanSmurf #2, still enamored by the newness of it, decided to play “Defeat a God.” (Xenagos)

 

To begin with, I predicted that the Hydra Deck would win because it has beaten me more regularly than the others.  I have never lost to either of the other decks.  (WAA Waa was.)  Was I correct?  I thought the Minotaurs would fall first and the God would fall last.

 

Well…

 

For your entertainment, some pics of MOTU guys with the deck!

 

  • He-Man, either ready to slaw the Hydra, or representing all of the vibrant life that it embodies..Same as he does.
  • Mantenna…um….He is a member of the Horde…(Sorry.  Not rich enough for the classics version!)
  • Skeletor….In the 1987 Masters of the Universe Movie, Skeletor gains the power of Grayskull and declares himself a “god.”

 

big match he big match mant big match skele

 

 

OK.  On with the show.  The Hydra had an advantage…The instructions say you can’t mill his deck.  On the other hand, the other two decks can “take damage.”  You mill the decks for the amount of damage you give them.

 

Then Xenagos seems to have a disadvantage in that he doesn’t get to attack each turn.  On the other hand…he is indestructible…

 

The minotaur deck seems to be the weakest.  And those artifacts that get milled give it a big disadvantage, so it seems….

 

Well I was COMPLETELY WRONG!  The Hydra fell first….and in only like, four turns!  Xenagos was able to do it in.  Then fifteen minutes later Xenagos took the fall.  “Battle the Horde” actually won!

(The hydra heads generally only swing for 1 or 2 damage.  And the Satyrs and Minotaurs are both generally tougher than that.)

 

The artifacts don’t get life back and stuff like that for the self running decks.  So they weren’t a downside at all.  And then those minotaurs just crunch in unrelenting.

 

So there you have it.  Try it on your own and share your results in the comments!

SpartanNerd Movie Review….”Noah”

 

I went into this movie with a biased opinion shoved at me already….”That is a good movie, but….”  Following the “but” would be “It’s not accurate to the Bible.” or “It was a drama about the people around Noah and the flood.” and even “God isn’t even mentioned in the movie.”

 

But all of these are true!  That doesn’t make this a bad film.  It is a fantasy.  If you take it as a fantasy grounded in what the Bible and other sources supply, then you can enjoy the movie.  If you can’t have an open mind and allow the filmmakers and actors to have some artistic license, then this film isn’t for you.

 

So here is my review.  Spoilers ahead!

 

I saw “Noah” in the cheapskate matinee theater for $2.00.  The picture was clear and clean.  The sound was good.  But there were a ton of commercials and previews before the movie.  TOOO MANNNYYYYY!!!!!!

When the movie finally began, we get a short scene from Noah’s childhood, and we get a brief creation story, which is repeated several times.  I like the nature of this story…It would have been handed down generation after generation in this way orally.  We see it repeated several times throughout the film in varying detail.  Always God is referred to as “The Creator.”  And he is revered and respected by most, in a way that shows paranoid fear….the way early Old Testament folks would have thought of him.  Nothing at all like our loving Jesus.  More like and angry, vengeful, unreasonable God.

The Earth is a very wicked place in this movie.  This is one of the strong things about the film.  Mankind is eating itself, literally.  The people are all presented as barbarians, killing in order to survive.  There are several cities mentioned in the story, but they are all destroyed by their inhabitants or judged by God.  (Apparently.)  The land is barren, with trees cleared away.  And evidently man also doesn’t know how to farm or to raise animals to eat or sale.  (This is a contrast to the Bible…Noah was instructed to take animals for food and sacrifice on the Ark in the Bible.)

There is another starling addition…”The Watchers.”  If you read your Bible, you find that it says “There were giants in the land.”  More in depth study reveals “the Nephalim.”  This film interprets them as fallen angels, cursed to be encased in rocks by God for trying to help Man on his way from the fall in the Garden of Eden.  This becomes an important plot point later.  It is with these Watchers that some of the most creative license is used.  The way they are animated, they remind me of Michael Bay’s transformers.

Noah clearly is presented as a prophet.  He has visions from God, but can’t explain or interpret them.  Here is one of the things that rubbed me wrong…He goes to see his grandfather, Methuselah, (Bible scholars will know him as the oldest man recorded in the word.,) and the old guy drugs him with some tea…tea that lets him see clearly what God is trying to say.  To me, this is a unacceptable insertion of a New Age idea….To me, Noah would have fasted and sanctified himself for days in order to understand God’s message.  But I enjoyed this spin as artistic license, I suppose.

Armed with the knowledge of how God is going to judge the world, he instructs his family to build the ark, and enlists the help of the Watchers.

There is this nursery picture that most people will be familiar with.  The ark on a hill.  The animals walking two by two into the ark.  Etc.  NOT IN THIS MOVIE!  The animals come as a miracle.  a flock of all different birds come flying in.  And Noah and his wife know how to make them sleep for days and days by mixing up some mystical new-age incense.  Here is a spin I never saw coming.  And then the snakes and bugs come, and then the mammals come.  They all get pacified so that they are no trouble at all for Noah and his crew.  A truly different spin on one of the big problems to solve in this story.

After the animals arrive, the other humans of the world enter as a big problem.  Tubal-Cain, the “king of the world,” threatens to take the Ark.  The Watchers have Noah’s back, so that’s that.

Noah has three sons…Shem, Ham, and Japeth.  The film portrays Ham as the worst son.  He wants to have a wife.  Noah can’t find a wife for him.  And when he sees how bad things are in the “cities,” now mobs of violent hungry people, he takes it that God wants all of men to die out, including him and his family.

Long story short, right as it starts to rain, Ham is trying to find a woman, Noah causes him to leave her to be trampled by the horde of people moving on the Ark…Everyone except Noah and his family make it on the Ark…ut Tubal-Cain becomes a stowaway.  He takes a new role as the devil for Ham, who wants  revenge against his father.  Tubal-Cain also does the forbidden, in killing the animals and eating them, (causing extinction.)  Shem’s girlfriend (played by Emma “Hermione” Watson,) is pregnant, Noah thinks he has to kill the baby, (Turns out to be twin girls..wives for his two children who have no female companionship.)  The climax of this drama, Tubal-Cain tries to kill Noah, manipulating Ham…right as the children are born and the rain stops.

The movie really builds a strong climax…

I never think about the character of Noah as a negative kind of guy.  Certainly, he wasn’t perfect.  But this film shows him as losing his sanity, he has it in his mind to kill those babies.  And the mvid does everything in it’s power to build that tension to a head.  When you think the knife is going into that babies head, you actually see it go down, but Noah kisses the child instead, and at the end bestows his blessing on the two children.

 

Rating this movie is hard….As Hollywood’s secular take on Noah’s story as a fantasy and drama, it has to get a 5/5.

But taken as a Biblically sound movie, it gets a 2/5, the 2 points comes for great acting and special effects.  I took my 8 year old SpartanSmurf #2…And I knew that I was going to have to do a lot of explaining about the truth and the artistic license in this film.

 

Overall, I liked it like I like “Star Wars” and “Avatar.”  Not like I like “The Bible” TV series, or “The Passion of the Christ.”  What do you think, oh Hub City Geeks?  Am I being fair and accurate?  Let me know!