Powerful and Painful: Mark Pellington’s ‘Nostalgia’ Movie Review

Mark Pellington is a name any child of the 90’s (and beyond) should know. He started his career in short films, commercial work, and most memorably for many of us born in the MTV generation, an absolutely amazing run as a music video director, which he still does to this day, (most recently with Demi lovato and Silversun Pickups). Jeremy from Pearl Jam always stood out to me in terms of his early work for how it melted art with the bleak imagery and heavy themes of the song itself.

Mark Pellington is also very much a director who makes movies that the world isn’t ready for. Arlington Road dealt with American terrorism in such a scary and brilliant way people were too scared to praise it properly for how brave it was. Another film he made called I Melt With You resonated with me deeply (read more here), so naturally when I was approached to review his most recent Nostalgia movie, I was both eager and scared. Eager because I knew this man was about to broach something very taboo (as that is what he does), and when I heard “dark family drama’ I knew I was in for a very honest, raw, and genuine experience that would leave me both shaken and somewhat awoken to the fact that right now, this is all we have, and as much as the feeling of Nostalgia can be fun and take “us back”, it can also be damning to us, and this movie shows us that from all perspectives perfectly.

What Is Nostalgia About?

If you are not sold on the cast alone, you mustn’t be a fan of film and good actors and actresses.

For my Nostalgia movie review, I took a couple weeks to process it to truly do it justice before I started writing. Nostalgia is about just that. The name is not a misdirection. What one has to understand going into this movie is, nostalgia, like humor for example, is subjective. And the sad part is, no side is right or wrong. Some people just see old things as old things, and some people perceive them as memories, locked into place and captured. So for some, throwing away a piece of paper is throwing away a piece of paper but to others, it can feel like you are throwing memories away. Once you realize that and that there is no right or wrong way to be nostalgic or grieve, you will realize the impact this film will have.

First off, the cast he assembled for this film is one of the most impressive rosters of talent I have seen in recent film. From an opening scene with cinematic legend Bruce Dern talking to an insurance agent about how his life is being boiled down to a fiscal value based on what junk he has kept to Ellen Burstyn giving what is EASILY her best performance since Requiem for a Dream (that woman can break hearts with a monologue like she’s making toast, she makes it look that easy).

Also, anything with Jon Hamm is good, and Jon Hamm kills it in a small but very poignant part as the owner of a pawn shop who has the job of literally underpaying people for those very memories, but more on that later. Also keep your eyes out for Nick Offerman who plays a decidedly different character than you normally know of him but nails it, per usual.

Why Everyone Needs to See Nostalgia

nostalgia movie review

The AMAZING Pawn Shop scene really puts our own self-worth in perspective.

I am pushing this film on you all on this very site for a specific reason. You (and many like you) really enjoy loud, CG heavy movie that go PEW PEW PEW and are littered with destruction and madness, but when the last time a movie made you FEEL something without needing all those smoke and mirror tricks?? What makes Mark Pellington’s work so remarkable to me is he still makes movies for people who like actual movies. People who have feelings and aren’t too scared to face them or hide behind a “two-hour space movie clusterfuck” to avoid said feelings.

He grabs you and makes you face them.

You may very well have to put one of your parents into a home one day, are you prepared for that? Are they? Do you know what they would bring, the objects that matter to them most? What about YOU? Does a picture of your Mother as a child hold weight to you because she gave birth to you or is it just a photo and nothing more?

Nostalgia dares to ask the audience this question and then has the genuine chutzpah to leave that for the viewer to answer for themselves. Yes, you are watching a movie about people transitioning in their lives, but put yourself in their shoes for a minute. There is a REALLY powerful scene near the beginning of the movie where Amber Tamblyn (nice to see her working again post Hollywood fallout, further proving Pellington is not like the others) where she talks to an insurance agent about the fact that SHE has to single-handedly make all of the most important decisions for a dying parent because SHE is closest in proximity, to which he basically responds:

Yeah, that is how this works.

Being someone who JUST PUT HIS FATHER INTO A HOME THIS WEEK, I can attest to the fact that statement is VERY much true, and the anguish it brings with it can be unbearable. The insurance guy also gets a very powerful monologue about why he does his job and why, as much as it may seem like it sucks, it doesn’t for him. It is a viewpoint I never considered and made me look at that aspect of work differently.

The Most Powerful Baseball in Film

nostalgia movie

Great shot. The literal representation of walking away from the person you once were.

Something I genuinely never thought I would never write in my life is the term “a baseball just made me cry”, but this film takes something as simple as a baseball (which I won’t spoil more deeply than that here) and goes on to make it symbolize ALL THE THINGS WE CLING TO FOR MEMORIES.

There is an exchange in the Nostalgia movie between Ellyn Burstyn’s Helen character and Jon Hamm’s Will (owner of aforementioned pawn shop) and if you just stop for a moment, shut the outside world out, and listen to the brevity of this exchange, you WILL realize, despite what Daniel Day-Lewis may say about the current state of filmmaking, there ARE good, genuine, character-driven films still getting made, and this is one of those movies.

A shining example of that, as a matter of fact.

One (Hu)man’s Trash is Another One’s Treasure

It’s a storage locker to you, but to someone else, it is their whole life broken down to ONE ROOM.

Nostalgia heals and nostalgia kills, and that is what makes the word and concept behind this movie echo so long after you watch it. The first problem with Nostalgia (not the film, the concept) is that it varies widely from one person to the next.

The next thing that makes it such an interesting taboo to breach (which is what Mark Pellington did here and has always done) is the fact that it IS a taboo. We do not talk about nostalgia when it comes to our personal lives, yet we see and feel it every day.

As opposed to that, the internet has birthed a new generation who think nostalgia means watching cartoons they grew up with. And while that is not wrong, that is NOT the nostalgia you will feel here. This is that “do I put my Dad into a home” and “do I sell this thing I have kept to remind me of someone because is it just a thing, or does it hold more than that to me?” kind of thing. For that reason, EVERYONE will walk away from this movie feeling differently. Some will be upset with the choices some characters made while others (at the same screening) will walk away feeling like some of them did the RIGHT thing, and again, in something as subjective as memories and nostalgia, it IS subjective so no one is right or wrong.

All feelings are justified.

See A Movie That Makes You FEEL Something

nostalgia movie

“Hey, look Ma, I am almost tall enough to hate myself like most adults do!”

When it came time to write this Nostalgia Movie Review I was stuck for a moment. How do I tell people this story is good without ruining what makes it so powerful, and then it hit me. I don’t have to spoil anything. We ALL feel Nostalgia, so everything you need to see and experience this movie is already in place in you. Just be prepared for the movie to bring some of that to the surface. We can’t run from everything that scares us or is outside our comfort zone, and that is another subliminal I took away from this film.

Speaking of film….

The Overly Entitled Movie Goer of 2018

nostalgia movie review

Her performance will leave you breathless as you feel every pang of guilt and sorrow she feels.

So everyone was all up in arms this year because they didn’t like how Luke Skywalker was portrayed in the most recent Star Wars movie. Don’t get me wrong, they are fun movies, but when grown men are on message boards sobbing about a fictional character in a sci-fi universe, something is off with us as a collective people. Those aren’t real emotions. That is NOSTALGIA once again, and no, you don’t hate the new Star Wars because you didn’t like the direction it took. You didn’t like it because (no offense) they aren’t making those movies for 40-50 year olds. They are making them for kids, which is their demo as they want to sell toys, and it is working so reassess your problems, people.

My point is, do you REALLY want to feel things or are you just online looking for something to whine and feel entitled about? Because if you want to see a film that garners genuine feelings, see Nostalgia. Mark Pellington did something amazing here and if this movie undersells because not enough people in spandex blowing up buildings are in it, I am literally gonna slap the whole world in its face.

Stop numbing your real feelings with faux feels. Realize, we will ALL GO THROUGH what the people in this movie go through at one point in our lives (hopefully minus the house fire) and to see and feel these things before they knock us down in real life is how we prepare. THESE are the kinds of movies the world needs right now, real talk.

BooHoo, But It Sounds Sad!

nostalgia movie review

Memories heal, memories kill.

Here’s the thing about the Nostalgia Movie. It IS sad, and that is because life and nostalgia itself are sad. Not all the time, mind you, but we are at a point in humanity when we run from all our feelings or try to hide from them behind VR games or fancy phones glued to our hands. But we can’t. We just can’t. YOU are dying right now, in the Nietzsche (and literal) sense. What things do YOU have in order so your family isn’t inundated and overwhelmed? What about your spouse or your kids? Have you made it so they don’t have to make tough decisions two midnights to proverbial midnight?

These are but some of the questions Nostalgia has the balls to ask you, and you walk away from it looking inward, you really do. I mean, the funniest part in all this is I sat down to write a Nostalgia Movie Review after the movie finished and ended up writing a living will. REALLY!

Why?

Because I do not want anyone I love going through what some of the people in this movie had to go through. Quick question before we wrap this thing up. Have you weighed the ONE THING you would take if your house caught fire and you had no time to grab anything?

Yeah, few of us have, and that is another point this movie drives home. How prepared are ANY OF US for ANY tragedies, even if we know they are coming (like death)? We cope by gripping onto items that are priceless to some and just “things” to other people, and that is what makes nostalgia such a dangerous thing to feel. It can be internally misleading and sometimes inaccurate as we as a people tend to look in the rearview mirror so much we forget to look where we are actually driving.

Closing Thoughts on the Nostalgia Movie

A heavy and genuinely moving film.

I kept this review vague very much for a reason. Writers who have to spoil films to talk about them should not be reviewing films. It is our job to whet your appetites and then let you go satiate that hunger. It is not our job to ruin the power of the story itself by telling you all of its finite details.

We simply need to point out how powerful and poignant something is, and if you are wise enough, what you do next is up to you.

Also, if you have siblings or a parent who you may foresee getting sick, TALK ABOUT IT AND WHAT TO DO NEXT. Do not just wake up one day to a life that is spinning out of control because you let it. And remember, Nostalgia is a double-edged sword. It saves some and kills others, and this movie shows us that duality with glaring clarity.

Genuinely nice to see there are still real movies about real things getting made out there. Some may think this art form of film is dying, but as long as there are directors as brave as Mark Pellington and writers as raw as Alex Ross Perry (who penned this masterpiece), I think we may still have a chance.

Other 2018 Movies You Should See

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How Expensive Is Gaming As A Hobby? Everything You Need To Know…

It can’t be denied gaming can be one of the more expensive of pastimes. It’s not like running or cycling where once you’ve got one piece of equipment you can just go.

No, there’s the console, the games, the subscriptions. Finding the finances can be tough, especially for younger gamers.

The Cost of a Console

Of course the most important thing to fuel a gaming hobby is the console itself. A PlayStation 4 can range from anywhere between $300 to $500, while you’re also expected to pay around the same for an Xbox One in the likes of Walmart.

This is the area you shouldn’t skimp. If you’re going to fuel a gaming hobby you need to invest in a games console. It isn’t like an iPhone where a new, better series comes out each year, they can last years and the better the console, the better the gameplay and the longer it’ll last.

Of course, such an investment is as big as buying a first car for students and college kids. But don’t settle for a lesser model, find a place you can settle in instalments or look out for the best credit cards for college students on trusted sites like moneyunder30.com. This way, you won’t have to settle a full $500 in one lump sum.

Total Cost: $300-500

Gaming Subscriptions

One of the first things you’re likely to do is order a subscription so you can play the likes of Call of Duty and FIFA 2018 online with both friends and people from across the world.

For PlayStation Plus, a membership which allows you to play online, you’ll be looking to pay around $50 per year, although this again can be split monthly to limit the hit on your wallet.

In terms of Xbox Live, you can pick up their Gold membership for $59 per year or buy monthly passes for a one off $9.99.

They’re generally worth buying and will significantly increase your gaming experience. You’ll also receive a number of games with Live Gold, meaning it will save you cash when it comes to buying games for your console.

Total Cost: $50-60 per year

Buying Games: Just How Much Do We Spend?

Naturally, how much you spend on games will depend on how many you buy. Here, rather than significant experts and paying with installments or credit, we’d recommend your expendable income go on games really.

With the Xbox, games are coming in at around $60 for the latest releases, although you will receive significant discounts for those with Live Gold.

When it comes to buying games it’s worth giving yourself a budget for how much you want to spend on games per week, month or year. This way you won’t have found yourself piling up debt when you buy more games than you can afford.

It can be worth waiting a few months after a games release if you want to see its price drop, in which case you can usually pick up top titles from as little as $30, particularly if it’s a yearly release such as Madden or FIFA.

Total Cost: $30-60 per game

Console Accessories

Additional assets for your console don’t come cheap and if you’re hobby is begging you for all the latest gadgets it can be extremely costly. New controllers for the PlayStation 4 are around the $50 mark, while investing in the likes of VR, driving wheels and guns have significant price tags.

Virtual Reality is of course one of the biggest trends currently and bundles for the PS4 VR offering will set you back as much as $400 for a top of the range bundle. Integrated with a console too, their premier bundle is $1,500.

It’s a similar story with Xbox where you’d be looking to pay around $300 for a decent headset.

You’ll find accessories can vary pricewise dependent on the quality, particularly when it comes to driving accessories. Full set ups can cost up to $1,000 comfortably, but you’ll also be able to pick a wheel for as little as $100, so it all depends on how serious you are about gaming.

Total Cost: $50-1,500

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Why Metal Gear Survive Just Isn’t a Metal Gear Game

I think as avid gamers (which most readers of this site are), a great many of us have become rather disgusted by Konami (Metal Gear’s home team, initially) for inexplicably firing Hideo Kojima from the company that HE made thrive with his amazing work. That, when paired with the dropping of the fantastic looking PT really drove home that the Konami money machine of today is NOT the same Konami we grew up with, and Metal Gear Survive is the disgusting epitome of all this. The culmination of all their wrong choices boiled down into one, massive, ugly, melting pot of mistakes that I believe will all but ruin the company (that could also simply be wishful thinking on my part).

So right off the bat, let me tell you, Survive is no Metal Gear Solid or Snake Eater. No, this is an online survival game that Konami STUCK the Metal Gear title on AFTER they fired the guy who created, wrote, and directed all the Metal Gear games.

On top of it, having a friend who has the playable BETA only drove home the fact that Metal Gear Survive is NOT a Metal Gear game in any way, shape, or form, and if you support this company for doing such shitty things like this you are perpetuating the problem with gaming right now and don’t deserve to call yourself a true geek, real talk (my favorite two words which you will see again soon).

Konami, What Are You DOING?

All you have to do is watch the above trailer to realize I am right, this is NOT a Metal Gear game. This is clearly an “online zombie shooter/survival game” and not a game about espionage and double crosses and weirdly detailed boss fights that left our jaws hanging open like Phantom Pain did.

This will not have the mindf*ck that was the main character switch from the second game in the rebooted series. They (most likely) won’t have an actual Metal Gear (killer, giant mech that looks like something out of a nerd’s wet dream).

This will most likely not have a half-naked women who has to use her skin (and heaving bosom) to breathe (okay, so Hideo Kojima was a LITTLE weird, but that is where part of the charm of his games lie).

There are also won’t be any of the amazingly quirky characters and nine-hour cutscenes. In other words and like I said twice before, this is not a Metal Gear game. This is a crappy company using the rights they bought to another owner’s material and ruining it by sticking that title on it.

In other words, between the cancellation of PT, this, and their new leanings towards microtransactions and iOS games, we are literally watching one of the best game companies in the last 30 years slice their own throat with a rusty butter knife.

Great visual, huh? Very Hideo Kojima of me.

How “Survival” Games Work

metal gear solid

Metal Gear Solid was very much a stealth game that sometimes relied on action-oriented moments. That is how the series would function. Some (surreal) storytelling with enigmatic characters making the whole experience way more realistic because as odd as they were, they made that universe feel like it was inhabited by REAL personalities and not gaming cliches.

Survival games are just that. Survival. Your SOLE mission is to not die. You get waves of enemies thrown at you (judging from the trailer, all the same generic looking zombies with PINK CRYSTALS coming out of their heads, WTF). Not only is it not a true MG game, but character design alone is generic 101. Side note, zombies with pretty crystals coming out of their heads are NOT scary looking.

They are goofy as f*ck looking.

Listen, no matter what you think otherwise, this is a Left for Dead game (which will not be nearly as good as THAT series) with the MG misnomer put on it to sell more copies. It is a very slutty business move, so it makes total sense Konami would make it while performing hara-kari in front of the masses.

Metal Gear Survive gameplay doesn’t even remotely feel like a Metal Gear game. It’s honestly like they didn’t even try. They can no longer to give any f*cks. It’s sad, really.

Call The Game “Survive” Only

metal gear survive

Metal Gear Survive won’t survive on the shelves, and the irony of that doesn’t escape me (actually makes me happy, down with Konami).

When people line up to play a new Metal Gear game, the big part of that draw is the feeling that you are literally playing an epic film. Everything is always tense and uncertain, you KNOW anytime you get truly comfortable with the gameplay Hideo woulda thrown a twisted wrench into the mix and switched it all up on you.

The madness and uncertainty were a big part of the draw. Yes, we sometimes got cutscenes that felt longer (and BETTER) than Dawn of Justice, but again, us true Metal Gear fans love that. That is what we like in the series. It is like a superball. You throw the things you NEVER know where or how far they will bounce. THAT is the essence of Metal Gear. Not crystal zombies.

But this game looks to be the exact opposite of that in every single way from what has been shown and what I have seen in actual person. Metal Gear Solid this is not. I basically watched a friend and fellow journalist run around and fight hoards of crystal headed weirdos, while occasionally finding respite, only for the same thing to happen again. And again. And then, say it with me, again.

I can see where survival games are fun and all but don’t throw the name of a beloved franchise on it to sell more copies to people who don’t do their research and don’t know it is NOT A FRIGGIN’ METAL GEAR GAME IN ANY WAY!

I Should Reserve Judgement, I KNOW This

metal gear

First and foremost, I am a media critic and should be unbiased and approach things on an individual basis. I know this, and I don’t want anyone to think otherwise. As hackneyed and manic as all this rage aimed at Survive may be getting from me, I will say it here, now, and put it into print:

If Metal gear Survive comes out and is far better than expected and from what I have seen from Beta, I will be the first person to admit I was wrong and that my early judgment was off.

I am not the typical internet writer who claims to make no mistakes. No, I KNOW I am going into this hating what they did and the choices they made, and I will do my damnedest to try to not let those biases factor in when I finally do sit down with this abomination (see, the bias is built into me by the way Konami treated its star player, I can’t lie).

Related: Take a Break and Enjoy this Metal Gear Solid Fan Film

The reality about being a writer and someone who judges things for a living is I get to judge things for a living. It is LITERALLY part of my job description, and the beauty of it is, I get to share my feelings on something beforehand with the public, too. Now the thing readers don’t seem, to always understand is, just because I am the person writing what you are reading does not mean I am the person who is RIGHT. My feelings as a media critic are justified as they are my own, but this does not mean I speak for everyone and that I am right here, either.

If I am wrong I will eat my words and redact this. Thing is, we ALL KNOW I AM NOT WRONG ABOUT THIS.

Really, we do.

Metal Gear Solid this is NOT. Hell, screw Metal Gear at all. This game just looks SHITTY and basic, it really does. This is some PS2 level stuff right here.

Look How Hard They Are Trying, Though

Metal Gear Survive gameplay shows us this is not an MG game, but that won’t stop Konami from trying to jam the Metal Gear aesthetic down out throats.

You can see it in the new “single player” trailer. Some weird looking albino characters and a big machine that shoots lasers (ooooohhhhh, ahhhhhhhhh, mehhhhhhh), it is like you are watching a Beatles cover band play a live show yet they don’t know how to play actual instruments or any lyrics to Beatles songs.

This is like when you see one of those movies called ‘Terminator 3000’ and without thinking you click it only to find out it is some shitty Sci-fi, B-movie that tricked you with its title into thinking it was an actual Terminator movie.

In case any of you are missing the subtext of this article, do not buy Metal Gear Survive. Really. Konami screwed its fans (and its main money maker) with canceling PT and then firing him. We cannot support that behavior. If we do, WE LOSE in the long run. We need to stand together and make a statement they all HEAR in their wallets, because that is all that matters to them.

If you pick this game up, you are giving money to a company that no longer cares about you or the art it puts out and rather, sees you as a walking dollar sign. An age demographic on a pie chart. (LITERALLY) do NOT buy into that.

Death Stranding: The Game Konami COULD Have Gotten

metal gear survive

Here, I am just gonna post this trailer from the new Hideo Kojima game that he is making WITHOUT KoNAZI.

I mean Konami, my bad:

Now I am gonna show you a satire video of Hideo reacting to seeing the Metal Gear Survive trailer after dropping his Death Stranding trailer:

Now, this is the part where you laugh at Konami for the rest of your life (just like Hideo). That Death Stranding trailer is more interesting and intriguing than 90% of the MOVIES COMING OUT IN 2018, so how did Konami make the right choice?

They didn’t, that’s the point.

And once you look at the Metal Gear Survive NEXT to Death Stranding, Survive is like looking at a Lamborghini next to a used Gremlin (which for you millennials, was also once a car that was utter sh*t) and who would choose the Gremlin.

No one would choose the Gremlin, that’s who.

It’s funny because Kojima released the trailer (and slowly reveals more and more of it) and from the star-studded cast to just how over-the-top and insane (typical Hideo) it is, you can hear the people at Konami seeing it online and flipping their desks like the famous meme:

konami sucks

If that thought does not make you smile, I don’t know what will. They KNOW they lost, they know they f*cked up, and now and forever as their company slowly collapses, they will always know it is their own fault and theirs alone.

Amen to that! Karma is a bitch-Goddess. 

Fudge Konami

Guillermo Del Toro said best after they fired Hideo and then canceled his PT Silent Hills game. When the game awards came on TV and they said Konami would not allow Hideo to attend, the famous horror and action director took to social media and let it be known what he thought about Konami and their business practices.

In that moment, he said what we all feel right now:

And that, my friends and fellow geeks, is why I like the term real talk so much. Because when it works, it is like a punch to the gut no one sees coming.

Game over, Konami.

Also read: The 5 BIGGEST Video Games (Memory Wise) Ever Made

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Batman Has Gotten Boring, Here’s How to Save Him

Despite the explosion of superhero films in the last few years, comic book fans might have a painful road ahead of them — specifically, DC comic book fans. Zack Snyder’s Justice League might have been a beacon of hope to many, but its box office performance is mixed. Many more movies are coming up, but how much longer can comic fans hold out hope? Especially when it comes to DC’s most popular hero, Batman.

Batman has gone through many models throughout the years, but not always with success. Recently, Schumacher’s versions have made it to Netflix, the last of which is frequently considered one of the worst movies of all time and which Schumacher has publicly apologized for.

The comics have moved away from the New 52 storylines (some would say thankfully) to Rebirth, but it’s movies that keeps fans coming our way more than revamped comics. With Schumacher’s and Snyder’s films front and center, what is the future for Batman fans?

The Origin

To know where we’re going, we have to know where we’ve come from. Tim Burton’s early takes on Batman gave us a lot to chew on: a believable Batmobile, stylish villains, and a plot based on one of the most successful Batman storylines of all time. As I noted above, Schumacher’s films are available on Netflix now, and Batman & Robin is regarded as a B-side at best. However, Schumacher’s first attempt, Batman Forever, received much more favorable reviews. Perhaps it was just the loss of some talented actors or the push to make the sequel more merchandise-friendly. Either way, none of the proposed projects afterwards took flight.

batman movies

By Robertoqwerty (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

… Until Nolan’s trilogy, that is. According to Nolan himself, one the biggest reasons that he succeeded more than other superhero movies was time. He was afforded a lot of time to approach the movies creatively, instead of busting them out as quickly as possible. Snyder’s Justice League suffers from a jam-packed blockbuster schedule and an insistence to remove any humanity from Batman and double the broodiness. It’s clear that in order for fans to get the hero they deserve again, those are both going to have to change.

Problem #1: Overbooked Schedule

As much as Batfans hate to hear it, we might’ve just had too much Batman in the past couple years. Part of the success of Nolan’s trilogy was the spacing of the sequels. Even the 60s Batman TV show was well-regarded in its time since it was the only sort of Batmedia available besides comic books.

When we watch a Batman film these days, we are comparing the performances of Affleck to Bale or Ledger to Leto. There’s even talk of Jake Gyllenhaal replacing Affleck soon. That means another incarnation of Batman, another actor’s take of Bruce Wayne, and yet another performance we have to size up. We cared and committed to Christian Bale’s Batman for a while. We weren’t constantly having a new version shoved down our throats.

affleck batman movies

CC Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore on Flickr

This isn’t likely to change anytime soon. The pieces of the Hollywood machine are already in motion. That isn’t about to change when money can be made.

The only hope here is that many of these movies won’t directly involve Batman. Yes, he’ll probably make an appearance in many, but perhaps fully seeing different characters that were always in the shadow previously will help. With the limelight focused on Wonder Woman, Cyborg, or Aquaman, we might miss the Bat after all.

Problem #2: Batman’s Humanity

batman movies

CC Image courtesy of Tatiana T on Flickr

In truth, Batman has always struggled to be relatable. That’s one of the reasons Robin was brought in to begin with. Robin’s childlike nature and constant quips were easier for readers to understand than the constant parade of broodiness.

That isn’t to say that people don’t like Batman — quite the opposite, in fact. He is definitely more human than Superman. It’s gadgets, money, and determination that fuel Batman, not a powerful destiny or abilities.  Batman is also undeniably cool with is all black suit, sweet car, and quick takedowns. However, his future is clearly on a downward trajectory.

It’s up for debate whether it’s Affleck’s performance or the screenwriting to blame. You’ll find people that say one, the other, or both. But DC constantly struggles with portraying characters that their audience cares about, which is particularly distressing because people WANT to care. They just need a reason to.

  • Show us his mental struggles in more detail. He’s a prime candidate for PTSD, and he clearly has problems letting go. Don’t just show his parents dead in an alleyway, a sad little boy by their graves, and then jump ahead twenty years.
  • Let him fail sometimes. Rachel died in Nolan’s The Dark Knight, because bad consequences do happen. You can still be a hero and lose.
  • Explore some new storylines! The Joker is great, and I’m sure we’ll come back to him. But there are plenty of other storylines that directly expose Batman’s character struggles.

That’s just three easy ways to keep Batfans sated with character development while also drawing in more. Couple that with a little more time between installments and Batman could be going full swing again. This is in the interest of DC and Warner Brothers, too! The better the movies, the more people will want to see the next one, and maybe even (gasp!) read a comic book. This really should not be an uphill battle.

We owe Batman that much; let’s give him the movie he deserves again.

This post was written by Devin Morrissey. He writes and reads comics around the Pacific Northwest. He prides himself on being a jack of all trades, master of none, and travels constantly to improve keep that status. You can reliably find him on Twitter.  

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Japanophiles, Listen Up! We’re Giving Away a Copy of “Cool Tokyo Guide”

Travelers, you may want to pay attention, too. This week, we’re holding a “win it before you can buy it” event for people who are planning on going to Tokyo, want to go to Tokyo, or simply want a guide to one of the coolest cities in the world.

Tokyo – where gadgets, temples, video games, and anime (and then some) all come together.

Our friends at Tuttle Publishing are giving away a copy of their new – yet-to-be-released – book, Cool Tokyo Guide.

Written by Abby Denson (author of Cool Japan Guide), this book is not your ordinary travel guide. Inside its pages, you’ll find a graphic novel which you can live in real life.

Together with her husband Matt, friend Yuuko, and sidekick Kitty Sweet Tooth, Abby will introduce you to:

• A restaurant where clowns drive robots and mermaids ride on sharks
• Fantastic shops for lovers of everything from vintage manga to dollar-store treasures
• Great places to take kids—or be a kid, of any age—like the Ghibli Museum and Palette Town
• Famous sites both old and new, from Sensoji Temple to Tokyo Tower
• Major comic conventions in the anime, cosplay and manga capital of the world
• Must-visit spots like Ueno Park and even a few spots outside the city



Experience Tokyo from the eyes of an insider, comic book-style.

So, who wants a copy?

Follow the instructions below to join the contest.

The giveaway starts today, February 6 and ends on February 11. The winner will be announced on Twitter on February 12.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For other Asian-inspired books and guides like this one, follow Tuttle Publishing online:

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New for Board Game Geeks: The Dark Crystal Board Game

Calling all board game geeks and fans of The Dark Crystal.

ThinkGeek has just released an official eponymous board game of the classic movie that terrified many a child in the 80s.

With Netflix’s version coming out next year, The Dark Crystal board game is an excellent way to keep yourself busy.

The Dark Crystal board game is directly based on the movie but can be played without watching it. Still, if you haven’t seen, knowing the context will probably heighten the experience.

Product specs:

  • For 2-4 players
  • Ages 6+
  • Play time: 60-120 min.
  • Mechanic: Area movement, co-operative play, dice rolling, time track


  • Includes:
    • 4 collectible figurines – Jen, Kira, skekSil the Chamberlain, and skekUng the Garthim-Master
    • 24 page rule book
    • 2′ x 2′ board game
    • 25 world cards, 9 mystic cards, 7 skeksis cards, and 15 minion cards
    • Over 20 game tokens
    • 6 dice (D4, D6, D8, D10, D12, and D20)
    • 4 character sheets and 4 special ability cards
    • Cardboard stand-ups and bases – 4 garthim, 1 slave podling, 1 gourmand skeksis, and 1 slave-master skeksis,
    • 1 orrery turn track

Treat yourself – and the kids – to a different kind of board game. Just make sure the lights are on.

The game will set you back $49.99.

More for board game enthusiasts:

6 Adult Board Games for Couples

14 Awesome Homemade Board Games

Source: http://ift.tt/2gQ94pW

New for Board Game Geeks: The Dark Crystal Board Game

Calling all board game geeks and fans of The Dark Crystal.

ThinkGeek has just released an official eponymous board game of the classic movie that terrified many a child in the 80s.

With Netflix’s version coming out next year, The Dark Crystal board game is an excellent way to keep yourself busy.

The Dark Crystal board game is directly based on the movie but can be played without watching it. Still, if you haven’t seen, knowing the context will probably heighten the experience.

Product specs:

  • For 2-4 players
  • Ages 6+
  • Play time: 60-120 min.
  • Mechanic: Area movement, co-operative play, dice rolling, time track


  • Includes:
    • 4 collectible figurines – Jen, Kira, skekSil the Chamberlain, and skekUng the Garthim-Master
    • 24 page rule book
    • 2′ x 2′ board game
    • 25 world cards, 9 mystic cards, 7 skeksis cards, and 15 minion cards
    • Over 20 game tokens
    • 6 dice (D4, D6, D8, D10, D12, and D20)
    • 4 character sheets and 4 special ability cards
    • Cardboard stand-ups and bases – 4 garthim, 1 slave podling, 1 gourmand skeksis, and 1 slave-master skeksis,
    • 1 orrery turn track

Treat yourself – and the kids – to a different kind of board game. Just make sure the lights are on.

The game will set you back $49.99.

More for board game enthusiasts:

6 Adult Board Games for Couples

14 Awesome Homemade Board Games

Source: http://ift.tt/2gQ94pW

Who Is Black Panther: What You Need to Know Before Watching Black Panther

The Black Panther comic might just be one of Marvel’s most underrated books. I could blame a racially insensitive culture but what good would that complaint do us now? While it may have taken too long for some of the African American comic book heroes to get their dues, that moment for Black Panther is right now.

And what is garnering all this buzz about the forthcoming Black Panther movie? Well, if early reviews are any indication, it is one of the best Marvel movies yet (and that is REALLY saying something after Logan, Deadpool, and Thor Ragnarok).

The problem here (which is actually a gift in this case) is the simple fact that most people are unfamiliar with Black Panther outside his stellar, limited screen time in Civil War, but that is about to change entirely as his new solo flick is about to drop, so we thought it might be a good time to give you a crash course in Black Panther so you don’t go into this movie completely blind.

And as T’Challa puts it (Panther’s real name cuz we homeboys), knowledge IS power. Wait, Gi-Joe mighta said that. Either way, keep reading, this dude’s gonna drop your jaw right onto that creepily dirty theater floor!

What Do You Need to Know About the Black Panther Movie?

No one can argue that the movie looks badass. It looks so BADASS I just used capitals the second time.

Well, that’s one beautiful thing (among many) about the new Black Panther Marvel movie. We will get to see the follow-up to his “birthing” in the first film (Civil War) after his Dad died. That set the tone for the true origin story as well as some more exposition into just who T’Challa is and what he can do.

Basic info: Don’t think Black Panther was some side book Marvel made and didn’t focus on. Actually, it was Stan Lee himself who came up with Black Panther with the help of uber-famous comic artist, Jack Kirby. Kind of weird and maybe racist side note here: He was named Coal Tiger but within the YEAR of the launch of the book, the Black Panther political party rose up and many people think the name change to Black Panther was to cash in on that. For shame, but bygones at this point, dude has his own movie!

Also, side note to everyone at Marvel. Was ‘The Jaguar’ taken? because that would have worked really well, too and not had BLACK in the name, just saying.

Side note, for Black Panther 101, peep this real quick:

Marvel’s Batman (Someone Has to Say It)

black panther powersLooks like Batman went to a fetish club on swinger’s night and hung upside down from the ceiling, and I mean that as a compliment! Who DOESN’T like to watch?

I do tend to think, on the surface at least, Black Panther IS kind of Marvel’s Batman (not Tony Stark, sorry). Though with his birth nation and the politics involved, it gets much deeper. But if you are looking for true Black Panther 101, he IS Marvel’s Batman, from looks to powers (and there is NOTHING wrong with that as Batman is super badass, too).

He is essentially a very rich man (richest in all of comic books, btw, even beating Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark by BILLIONS, seeing as to how he RUNS HIS OWN COUNTRY) who is afforded the luxury of a badass suit with some killer tricks, as well as training, guidance, intelligence, and preparation.

Also, this is not a man born into riches who lost his family in a back alley after a broadway play. This is a man who did lose his Father, but it was not random and there were politics involved (I will not ruin any here for some of them will be played out in the film I’m sure) and he then used his Dad’s power and money to take the Black Panther cowl and fight for the good of Wakanda (his homeland).

But outside of super speed and abnormal strength and keen instincts, he cannot fly and 90% of what he does is fueled by his money, passion, morals, and genuine desire to rid his world of the people who stain it. So what I am saying here is, don’t be sad the last few Batfleck movies have sucked. We are finally getting a COOL Batman again, like the world deserves. It’s just in the form of a different movie.

He is just a panther and not a bat this time, which is cooler anyway because I would rather be chased by a bat than a panther, real talk! Bats are only scary until you are six. Panthers stay scary until you DIE.

What Are Black Panther’s Powers?

black panther movie

Joel Schumacher is reportedly very upset with the suits’ blatant lack of nipples.

I will kindly ask you to read the previous section, as my main point was that he has no real powers like most Marvel comic superheroes do. He cannot fly or shoot lasers out of his eyes. He cannot turn into diamond or pop claws out of his knuckles (though he DOES have some gnarly claws).

Nope.

This is Marvel’s Batman (redundant much). A rich man with the urge to do right and protect the innocent by any means necessary after he experienced a tragedy.

That said, Black Panther could still beat your ass within inches of your life. All it takes is a sniff of the rare (faux) Wikiandian “heart-shaped” herb and the strength and wisdom of your forefathers floods you. No, really, that is kind of their thing, you’ll see it on-screen, I guarantee.

Now keep in mind, a few of the things Panther has done is:

Taken down a charging rhino (not the Spider-Man character, an actual Rhinoceros).

Stopping vehicles at full speed on the road.

Ripping Up full trees to use as baseball bats.

Now keep in mind, only told you THREE things out of about a million that have happened to Black Panther since his inception in the late 70’s, but to say he has NO powers isn’t fair. They are just not that of a god or an X-Men. Black Panther is more driven by principle and the genuine urge to do right than he is any superpower. It is just those urges GIVE him the power.

Oh, and did I fail to mention his genius I.Q (he is considered to be as smart as Reed Richards and Tony Stark on an IQ scale)? Pretty impressive overall, huh?

Just look at the suit and think CatMan instead of Batman and it makes more sense, trust me. Of course, to say that is to undermine what makes Black Panther so damn special in the first place.

He is not some whiny, rich brat who grew up bitter. He is a man driven by morals and passion, and a man protecting an entire nation and race of people.

 What Story Is Being Told in Movie?

black panther marvel movie

Looks like the cover of a bangin’ new mixtape I intend to drop at some point.

At this point, that is the most mysterious thing about the movie. What Black Panther comic storyline is it taking, or is it telling a wholly unique tale? That we cannot fully answer yet.

I can tell you by some of the character reveals in the trailers that there are some characters and arcs that seem to be included, but for me to tell you anything I know or have read is too SPOILER risky, and I just don’t go there as a writer.

That is the other great thing about this film. If you are NOT at all familiar with Black Panther as a character, this will be your crash course (much like this article is a crash course for THAT crash course). Where most comics keep the politics on the sidelines, Panther steps up, is an intelligent story with some great characters and some truly unforgettable moments.

Also, the casting of this movie is top notch. Chadwick Boseman stole a great many of the Civil War scenes he was in (highway chase for the win) and there is a steadfast confidence behind his performance that commands respect (and not a lot of superheroes in spandex can elicit that sort of reaction). Plus,  Danai Gurira is in it (also known as Michonne from The Walking Dead) among many other greats that are sure to light up the screen.

Let’s Talk About Race, Baby!

black panther

If I owned that outfit, I would never change. Ever. Even for funerals. Heck, ESPECIALLY for funerals!

I know no one wants to talk about race because we are at a very tumultuous time in the world right now due to many people from many circles and walks of life clashing, but we NEED to talk about race right now MORE THAN EVER and Black Panther is going to open a LOT of doors for those very much needed discussions.

Why has it taken this long for a true African American superhero to get their own movie (Blade series aside, there are now 100’s of comic movies that feature a total of like, three black people and that is not a fair representation of that race).

While we can say HUZZAH to Marvel for this and Luke Cage, both are born from the blaxploitation era, and it is really nice to see them getting a fresh coat of paint to make them more befitting of these modern times.

In other words, the Black Panther Marvel movie has NEVER BEEN NEEDED MORE BY SOCIETY! So while many ponder Black Panther’s powers, few are noting his (AKA this movie’s) inevitable outcome of opening the door for more African American superheroes, ESPECIALLY in starring roles and not all delegated to the background or “the bad guy” parts.

How Is The Actual Black Panther Comic Book?

Um, this:

black panther marvel movie

You see that? That is Black Panther straight f*****g up Wolverine (and ALL THE X-MEN) with NO EFFORT.

Are you KIDDING ME? It’s great (right now) and it has had some great story arcs over the years but early on in the comic books and when Black Panther first came to be, race wasn’t handled as delicately as it should have been.

Thankfully, their aim was true and over time, the comic and character very much came into their own and were allowed to go some places, politically and otherwise, that we may have never seen in comics had Black Panther never been created or allowed to evolve as a character.

But there are some GREAT RUNS, and I will give some of you some examples in case you want to familiarize yourself a little more with the character before you see the movie.

Here he is punching Red Skull’s JAW OFF HIS FACE:

black panther powers

Your KIND? What do you mean by that?! Oh, Nazis. Fair enough, they do suck at life.

I mean, what else do you people NEED? This shit is top shelf, and that is TWO PANELS I randomly picked out of a billion.

And in the comic storyline right now (which I won’t ruin but is awesome and should be picked up by all), Storm from X-Men got married to Black Panther (and that is a team-up I can get behind, literally, as I am attracted to them both) and some of the stories they are telling in the most recent run is up there with Fraction’s Hawkeye work and some of the other best titles of the last half-decade.

And If You Don’t Know, Than Now You Know…

In closing (I love to close my articles with ‘in closing’ so there is no confusion that I may have started at the bottom and worked my way upward, which exactly no one does so I have no idea why I always say in closing), Black Panther is awesome, you need to see the movie, and I say ‘In Closing’ WAY too much when closing my articles.

Class dismissed.

Best Netflix Original Anime Right Now

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Fast and Slow Zombies – Which is Scariest?

It’s an age-old debate that will certainly eat at any horror movie lover’s brains. What is the best type of movie zombies? Are they the “arms out lurchers” from classic films or speedy killers from more recent blockbusters? Seasoned zombie movie lovers are split on which two is more accurate and many a feud has been sought on the subject.

This topic may seem a bit trivial to anyone who isn’t a fan of the gory and macabre but pressing viewers want to know: which is the real zombie? Read on to find the pros and cons of this dispute and make your executive decision.

Hordes of Graveyard Ghouls

Arguably, some of the best zombie movies of all time (Night of the Living Dead, anyone?) feature slow-moving zombies that travel in packs to seek out brains. These classic monsters are easily evaded by running away but they always seem to find a human eventually.

While slow-moving zombies are classic and worthy of decades of Halloween costumes, new movie fans may argue that they’re not scary enough. Some may argue it’s less laughable to believe the dead will rise from the ground and easier to fall victim to a flesh-craving virus.

Look Out for the Walkers!

zombie walker the walking dead

The movie zombies in flicks like 28 Days Later and World War Z are vicious and certainly have practiced their cardio. These independent creatures set after their goals and absolutely sprint to devour helpless victims. As Movieranker puts it, “we are introduced to a different breed of zombie that is filled with manic energy and can run at top speed.” The real world fear of infection and catastrophe has made these zombies the new normal: they’re simply sick humans gone wrong.

However, zombie movie purists scoff at the idea of a semi-functioning monster who turns bloodthirsty. Red-eyed and revved up on caffeine, fast-moving zombies seem to know their way around a gym with an all too easy bite of protein at the end. Still, those who fancy themselves prepared for the zombie apocalypse by guarding against slow-moving monsters may find themselves overwhelmed by the fast ones.

How Different are the Two Anyway?

zombies remake dawn of the dead zack snyder 2004

Slow moving zombies seem to sprout from graveyards to wreak havoc. Speedy zombies are generally a product of their environment.

Fast-moving zombies are way too speedy to take out easily. You can shoot aimlessly into a horde of slow movers to knock ’em out.

Slower zombies resemble a decaying corpse; faster monsters can look like a demonic version of your next door neighbor.

Classic horror zombies take years to emerge from the graves. Modern zombies can be turned with a single virus.

Why Can’t We Make a Compromise?

zombies george romero dawn of the dead

Slow-moving and faster zombies have a few things in common that all horror lovers can agree on.

1. They transmit the “zombie” infection and/or undetermined zombie effect via bites and/or blood.

2. They can’t easily be killed without trauma to the brain. Movies like Evil Dead show a simple limb can take the qualities of a zombie.

3. Both types of zombies can cause grief when they’re in the form of a loved one. We all felt sympathy when Shaun from Shaun of the Dead had to make a hard decision.

And the Verdict is…

Most hardcore zombie movie fans lean towards slow-moving zombies as the speed walkers don’t actually count as the walking dead. While faster zombies emit some hellish jumpscares, slow walkers depict the horrors of mortality.

We can all agree that the best zombie movies are great for a night with popcorn and the lights low. It’s the viewer’s choice who’s deadlier.

Source: http://ift.tt/2gQ94pW

Fast and Slow Zombies – Which is Scariest?

It’s an age-old debate that will certainly eat at any horror movie lover’s brains. What is the best type of movie zombies? Are they the “arms out lurchers” from classic films or speedy killers from more recent blockbusters? Seasoned zombie movie lovers are split on which two is more accurate and many a feud has been sought on the subject.

This topic may seem a bit trivial to anyone who isn’t a fan of the gory and macabre but pressing viewers want to know: which is the real zombie? Read on to find the pros and cons of this dispute and make your executive decision.

Hordes of Graveyard Ghouls

Arguably, some of the best zombie movies of all time (Night of the Living Dead, anyone?) feature slow-moving zombies that travel in packs to seek out brains. These classic monsters are easily evaded by running away but they always seem to find a human eventually.

While slow-moving zombies are classic and worthy of decades of Halloween costumes, new movie fans may argue that they’re not scary enough. Some may argue it’s less laughable to believe the dead will rise from the ground and easier to fall victim to a flesh-craving virus.

Look Out for the Walkers!

zombie walker the walking dead

The movie zombies in flicks like 28 Days Later and World War Z are vicious and certainly have practiced their cardio. These independent creatures set after their goals and absolutely sprint to devour helpless victims. As Movieranker puts it, “we are introduced to a different breed of zombie that is filled with manic energy and can run at top speed.” The real world fear of infection and catastrophe has made these zombies the new normal: they’re simply sick humans gone wrong.

However, zombie movie purists scoff at the idea of a semi-functioning monster who turns bloodthirsty. Red-eyed and revved up on caffeine, fast-moving zombies seem to know their way around a gym with an all too easy bite of protein at the end. Still, those who fancy themselves prepared for the zombie apocalypse by guarding against slow-moving monsters may find themselves overwhelmed by the fast ones.

How Different are the Two Anyway?

zombies remake dawn of the dead zack snyder 2004

Slow moving zombies seem to sprout from graveyards to wreak havoc. Speedy zombies are generally a product of their environment.

Fast-moving zombies are way too speedy to take out easily. You can shoot aimlessly into a horde of slow movers to knock ’em out.

Slower zombies resemble a decaying corpse; faster monsters can look like a demonic version of your next door neighbor.

Classic horror zombies take years to emerge from the graves. Modern zombies can be turned with a single virus.

Why Can’t We Make a Compromise?

zombies george romero dawn of the dead

Slow-moving and faster zombies have a few things in common that all horror lovers can agree on.

1. They transmit the “zombie” infection and/or undetermined zombie effect via bites and/or blood.

2. They can’t easily be killed without trauma to the brain. Movies like Evil Dead show a simple limb can take the qualities of a zombie.

3. Both types of zombies can cause grief when they’re in the form of a loved one. We all felt sympathy when Shaun from Shaun of the Dead had to make a hard decision.

And the Verdict is…

Most hardcore zombie movie fans lean towards slow-moving zombies as the speed walkers don’t actually count as the walking dead. While faster zombies emit some hellish jumpscares, slow walkers depict the horrors of mortality.

We can all agree that the best zombie movies are great for a night with popcorn and the lights low. It’s the viewer’s choice who’s deadlier.

Source: http://ift.tt/2gQ94pW