ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES

Picture this: you’re washing dishes in your kitchen on seemingly normal day when suddenly, you hear something disturbing… and it’s coming from the sink your cleaning in. You look down, nervously and cautiously and you see it…. a tomato. Naturally, confusion is the first thing you feel until that thing starts moving, after a brief WTF moment, you realize… you’re done for. *cue epic intro music*

It seemed like just a harmless veggie, who would ever suspect the delicious tomato? Well, as the intro to the movie explains, people laughed in the ’60s when Hitchcock made his legandary film The Birds but no one was laughing when millions of birds attacked a town in Kentucky in the ’70s (much like the attack in the film), no one was laughing.

So when did vegetables become hazardous to your health? It happened back in the day (the day being 1978) when reports of the vegetable attacking people started to occur and these attacks were hilarious. Now, before you go thinking I’m sick for enjoying someone being attacked, hear me out. One guy dies from drinking tomato juice (the juice was made from a killer tomato) and my favorite attack, a parody of Jaws where swimmers are eaten alive while enjoying some time in the bay.

The government doesn’t handle the damage control very well after these attacks, saying there’s nothing to worry about and none of the reports are credible. So even though the President is telling everyone to relax he’s forming a special forces team behind the scenes. The team includes a disguise expert, an Olympic swimmer and a solider. Now, the team member selection really confused me and I figured it was due to me missing some social relevance in the ’70s. After a little research, it turns out I didn’t miss anything (that I could find) and it was just suppose to be ridiculous.

During this crisis, a secret committee meeting was held to discuss what the plan of attack should be to defeat these killer tomatoes. The members of that meeting were not too careful because an editor of the paper gets a hold of a pamphlet and assigns his sexy reporter Lois Fairchild to the job telling her to “use what she’s got” to get the story (use your imagination on that one). Jaws isn’t the only movie that gets a parody in the film, but I won’t spoil this one for you.

In the end, it comes down to a battle of good vs evil, man vs. vegetable. Who will win this battle of epic proportions? The ending might surprise you (or make you never want to eat a vegetable again). As far as movies go, this is about as campy as they get. If you’re one of those people who can’t take a campy movie for what it is, then you’ll turn it off midway and tell all your friends how bad it was but for all you campy film fans, this is definitely one to watch.

attackofkillertomatoes

Advertisements

Man of Steel Review: SPOILERS

 

Warning: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS MANY SPOILERS OF THE MOVIE MAN OF STEEL. IF YOU AIN’T ABOUT SPOILERS, COME BACK LATER.

 Don’t agree with this review? Check out Nick’s review of Man of Steel in Four Color Fiend!

Unknown-1I’ve been a Superman fan all my life. In fact, in my particular brand of comic book nerdom its probably one of my most defining characteristics. I was raised and reared on a healthy diet of Superman movies, cartoons, comics, and toys. I can recite the words to Superman: The Movie the way people can sing their favorite songs. So suffice it to say that I was pretty disappointed following Superman Returns when the move was unimaginatively bound to the previous interpretation of the mythos without adding anything terribly worthwhile. Superman Returns was like the High School play version of Superman: The Movie and when I left that film, I was saddened to think that it was the Superman movie of my lifetime. A few years passed and on the heels of enormous success on the part of Marvel’s cinematic movieverse and the success of Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies, Warner Brothers and DC decided to once again try to make us believe that a man can fly. Enter this weekend’s Man of Steel.

Many people have had negative, or at least mixed, things to say about Man of Steel and I will tell you that I think they are wrong. As not only a life long comics fan, but also a fan specifically of the Superman franchise I can tell you that this movie delivered to me what was a renewed faith in the ability of the film medium to make a modern take on the Superman mythos. The emphasis that I must lay here is the modern take on Superman. Currently DC is engaged in a company wide reboot (the New 52) that is seeing its characters take on a grittier, edgier, and more timely vein than they have in almost the totality of their existence, and in that respect Superman is no different. The company has taken a particular point to spin the focus of Kal-El’s personality that I grew up with (that Superman is the act and Clark Kent is the whole person) to a position that bends that prism more towards a subdued or filtered man in both aspects—and the true man only shining through in the most comfortable of situations. This New 52 Superman does in fact feel alien, alone, different, and still tied to Earth and the human race in a way that firmly lays his allegiance there. This Superman is also markedly younger and greener than previous in-continuity portrayals have been, It is this take on the character that director Zach Snyder and screen writers David Goyer and Christopher Nolan approached the character with.

In that respect, Man of Steel does a wonderful job of showing us a Superman that feels suspended between worlds—and not truly a part of either—for most of his life. Without knowing his actual roots, Clark wanders the world under a series of nom de voyages and earning his way as a drifter by working odd jobs in bars and on boats—occasionally saving men on burning oil rigs and presumably cats from hurricane stricken suburbs building something of an urban legend around his acts of angel-like guardianship of complete strangers. Clark is waiting for the day that he can reveal himself against a threat so great that he will deliver mankind from perilous doom…but in the meanwhile he scours the planet looking for some clue as to his point of origin. Eventually he finds it. And we go through the undisclosed motions of Clark deciding to be Superman—even if without a name—after he has a heart to heart with a hologram of Jor-El, his birth father. And while this may seem beat-to-beat with Superman: The Movie it isn’t.

To begin with, the movie employs an entirely different visual language than previous incarnations. The beginning of the movie is set on the Planet of Krypton which is, rather than an icy crystalline world, a hot, craggy, mountainous place with reptilian winged steeds, exotic armors and jewelry, and a fancifully militaristic looking science fiction world. While their technology is more than a little phallic the designs and depictions of familiar characters, events, and places are entirely fresh and different. Shaky camera shots attempt to give the world authenticity and give the viewer a sense of being a fly on the wall as they witness the last days of Krypton and the political strife they endure even in the planet’s violent death throes. From there on out we are treated to a partially non-linear story that disperses Superman’s origin re-telling with the “in time” action and story in a move that successfully manages to only tell relevant information about Superman’s childhood which builds into his isolation, alienation, and reluctance to enter the public eye.

These origin sequences really hit a high point in a scene which depicts young Clark first having to learn to cope with his extraordinary senses. As a special education teacher with years of experience working with students with hyper-sensory issues it was refreshing to see a young Kal-El have difficulty in focusing X-Ray vision and becoming overwhelmed by talking and sounds well beyond the ear shot of others. The flood of sensory overload and his understandable attempts to retreat show the ways in which heightened senses could be a maddening burden if not properly trained.

This is not the only instance in the movie where yellow sun radiation powered super abilities are shown to have some limitations or even drawbacks. In the previously mentioned oil rig scene, I was very impressed to see that even though Superman was able to catch a falling tower and hold it, physics still had some sway, as the platform could not handle the pressure of that weight distributed to a single point under his feet. More reasonable limitations were put in place as Kryptonian flight was revealed to be a kind of controlled jumping which required energy output and focus to maintain (originally Superman couldn’t fly, he could only jump 1/8th of a mile at a time). Additionally, Kryptonians were not seen as being indestructible gods. Missiles, bullets, and shells all take their toll in one way or another, and as such Kryptonian battle armor (as depicted in the New 52 continuity) serves a purpose of protection as well as looking like Underwear and old school dive suits from a steampunk future.

The movie was fast paced and action packed taking moments here and there to dip into some expository information that was either relevant to the next step or had required some context by delving into the past. The super battle sequences were bar none the best usage of Kryptonian super powers I’ve even seen and in many ways rival those as portrayed in last year’s Avengers movie. The special effects were phenomenal and the 3D was very well executed. The colors however, were muted and dull and did add a general malaise to the tone of the movie.

In so far as character development is concerned, the character that received the best treatment in the whole flick is really General Zod who has made the transition from being a cartoonishly villainous bad guy to being an anti-hero with a reasonable motivation to want to murder every living thing on Earth. There are times when Zod’s complexity has you wondering if he is, in fact, right in opposing humans’ right to exist over that of his own people. Superman and Lois’ relationship isn’t given too much service in its development, though the fact that Lois figures out who Superman is, before he is Superman immediately alleviates the silliness of her knowing Superman and Clark so well that her investigative skills are defeated by a pair of horn rimmed glasses. The fact that she is in on the secret and keeps it a secret out of respect and honor at least makes the Clark Kent, reporter guise (to be developed in the next movie hopefully) that much more possible. Other than that the character development is somewhat lacking in this movie. There are some touching scenes of parenthood on the parts of the Kents and the Els respectively, but it is probably fair to assert that if you somehow knew absolutely nothing about any single piece of the Superman mythos going into the movie, then you may not know why the hell certain characters were acting as they did. Luckily, there is probably not a single human American who can make that claim. With a 75 year history, commemorated this month with the release of this very movie, it is safe to say that anyone in America could probably identify Superman and some aspects of the staple stories and tropes of Superman stories.

While I did in fact say that I could not have made a better movie for Superman than this one when I left the theaters, that doesn’t mean this movie isn’t without its faults. Superman does very little to save innocent bystanders, and due to that millions of people probably die throughout the movie. I chalk this up to two key factors: this Superman is totally green with his powers, and is probably not aware of the full extent to which he can be helping those around him. (or he is limited as illustrated in other places in the movie), and also that there needs to be a sense of consequence for modern audiences to feel the danger of a situation. The Battle of Metropolis scene is intentionally and overtly evocative of 9/11 imagery with collapsing buildings, rushing crowds, and avalanches of debris and dust—and while the appropriateness of such is debatable, these images are images of disaster and consequence that are tattooed into our collective minds of what a city under siege looks like. To somehow make a greenhorn Superman able to save every life in the city…or even a majority of them…if too much to ask in an interpretation that, if anything, has attempted to put these fantastical elements of science fiction into a reasonably real world context. However, the small amount of times Superman does manage to save the day is too low, and he is not nearly outraged enough at the level of destruction he is participating in.

The movie also heavy handedly paints Superman as a messianic figure in more ways than one. From shots of Superman talking to a priest with a stained glass image of Jesus behind him, to evoking the post of the cross, to his blood being the salvation of his people its all a little much. That isn’t to say that Supes hasn’t always been a messianic figure but rather that the treatment here is hammered hard and Superman doesn’t really deliver all that much except on panty soaking good looks and abs that made my eyes cross with envy. There’s no moment of him giving people hope, and no moment of childlike wonder at the all-good man here to save us all from ourselves at his expense…just many moments of him drawing lines in the sand and proving to people that he is standing for Earth.

1770130-zod1One of the big bones that I know people are picking with the movie is that Superman kills General Zod. I knew that he would kill Zod from the start…as soon as Zod killed Jor-El. This doesn’t bother me. For one, I feel like there is a time to kill your enemy whether your Superman, Batman, or Ant Man. Sometimes villains gotta die—not in cold blood murder, but in the moment and without alternative. Sometimes it is the most moral thing to do. Another reason why this doesn’t both me is because in the continuity of Superman that I grew up with in the 90s, Superman did kill General Zod. Yes. Superman killed General Zod in the comics. Even though it was a General Zod in an alternate reality and he did it using that reality’s Kryptonite (which did not effect him), Superman did kill Zod and his two henchmen, in continuity that one time. So, not only is there a precedent for Superman killing a villain, but there’s precedent for him killing specifically General Zod. To be fair though, it wasn’t by the quick snapping of a neck, it was by painfully slow radiation poisoning.

All in, I think this movie was a success, and was totally engrossing and engaging to boot. It had some points that clearly could have used more work, I think you could say that about most movies. For those who say the movie was lacking wit and humor I have to say that this seems to be what audiences want in order for Superman to be credible. Superman III and IV received a lot of criticism for being preachy and campy, wehre as Nolan’s Batman Trilogy was praised for a realistic and gritty world. While some argue that they don’t want anything to do with a Superman that is angsty, angry, and troubled, others seem to gravitate towards it because they are themselves those things. Superman has always been nothing if not a reflection of the heart of America at the time. If America believes it still has a strong sense of right and wrong, but is lost, angry, and troubled then Superman reflects that. I know there are many days that I feel just that way. Additionally the movie is fairly consistent with the current Superman comics product being put out there—it is consistent with the current take of the character, company wide in comics. Many people hate the New 52 take on characters, so they hate the take in this movie. Some are on the fence so their feelings are mixed. I’m willing to try new things and see if the heart of the character can stay the same, as the trappings are made more accessible and relevant to the masses. I think they can. I think they got it right, for this time and place, and the audiences that are paying to see movies. For longtime fans there are easter eggs and name drops throughout the whole thing (watch out for LexCorp!). In closing I’d like to restate that I wouldn’t have been able to make a better Superman movie…without having seen this one first.

 Don’t agree with this review? Check out Nick’s review of Man of Steel in Four Color Fiend!

 

————————————-

Written by Brandon Melendez

Magic Addict

I will readily and openly admit that I am just a little bit too obsessed with magic. Not the card game thing that I’ve never played, or the Las Vegas sideshow filled with sleights of hand and beautiful assistants. But real magic – the kind that you can only find in stories and books and televisions shows and movies. Every kid at some point or another believes that she had magic – she blinks her eyes and the poor television reception immediately comes back; she wiggles her fingers and the best song of the moment comes on the radio; she concentrates until her eyes start to shake on their own in her head and Mom offers her a freshly made cookie. Every kid believes in magic, believes she has magic, believes that magic is always swirling around her and we just have to practice really hard to get it.magic-trick

I never really grew out of that belief.

When you look around at popular books, the most-watched television shows, and the blockbuster films constantly turning out month after month, they have a great deal in common – magic. The Avengers is a film filled with characters with supernatural abilities or magical powers. Once Upon A Time is a television show with fairy tale characters trapped in small town America. Harry Potter is magic incarnate. Vampires, witches, wizards, werewolves, zombies, dragons, fairies, and more – magic is everywhere.

And given the amount of money people my age are spending to see these films and buy these books, clearly I’m not alone in my desire to bring magic back into this world. There is realistic magic and ridiculous magic. There is hopeful magic and unheard of magic. Wherever you turn, wherever you look, wherever you read, there is magic somewhere.

Is it just me, or has there been more magic for the general consumption out there lately? Maybe I’m just starting to pay attention, or maybe my generation is just more willing to fork over the dough for magic than previous generations. It’s probably both, and probably includes a few other factors I haven’t thought of yet, but look at it – Marvel Comics comes out with a new film every few months: Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, Captain America, The Avengers. There are television shows all about magic: True Blood, Game of Thrones, Once Upon a Time, Grimm, Supernatural, Revolution, the entire SyFy network. Harry Potter jump started a whole new generation of books and booklovers.

I feel like a junky. I read and watch them all, and I can’t wait for the next one to come out. Some people complain that all Hollywood does right now is make sequels – but when you’ve got a topic such as magic, how can you just let it die out? I am from a generation that was fed magic like candy. We crave it like cookies. And our habit is being fed daily.

I have been thinking about magic for a while. It’s kind of a common theme in my conversations with myself. Sometimes with others, but let’s be honest, mostly with myself. Now I’m going to put it down on paper. Well – electronic paper.

The magic in my life today – only had to restart my internet once, and my computer hasn’t crashed on me in over a week. Sometimes it’s the little things that are the most magical.

 

 

________________________________________

Written by Kelli Lapointe

Jimmy Eat World – Damage

There have been a few releases that I’m pretty excited about that have either come out or are coming out, but when I found out Jimmy Eat World put out a new album, I was beyond excited. Jimmy Eat World is one of those bands that make me feel nostalgic and who doesn’t love a trip down memory lane? Warm summer days with the windows down and the speakers up, that’s what comes to mind when I think of this band.

It’s been a long three years since the band’s last studio album and to be completely honest, I wasn’t super thrilled with 2010’s Invented so when I heard about their newest release Damage, I was beyond excited, as I said, but also hesitant. Before listening to this album, I wanted to read a couple reviews to get a feel of what I was going to get into. In one review, it quoted the band’s lead singer, Jim Adkins, as calling this album as an “adult break up record”. With that in mind,I went into listening to this album hopeful that it wasn’t going to be a hot mess of dreary, depressing music (which would also be pretty out of character for the band) and thankfully, it wasn’t anything to cry about(or to).

jew-damageDon’t be fooled by the theme of heartaches and break ups, this album has the upbeat, power-pop songs that fans of Jimmy Eat World have grown to love. “Appreciation” rips right into the break up topic; “Thank you honey for reminding me how long you can stay with someone and never see…” Even though it’s a song about reflection of your failed relationship, you forget for the moment as you get caught up in the catchy, upbeat music.

Not all the songs are upbeat though, “Bye, Bye Love” is exactly what you’d think it would be: Slow, melodic, and heavy. It’s easy to hear the agony in Adkins voice as he laments over his regrets of leaving his love. The crescendo that leads into his shrieking falsetto of “bye bye love” to me is when he realizes that he really messed up this one. You feel his pain as he sings.

“Book of Love” is what I’d consider a typical song by Jimmy Eat World (and it also happens to be my favorite track on the album. The booming drums, the quick and sugar sweet-sounding guitars are key characteristics of this song (and other great songs by the band). This song is immediately going on my summer playlist.

While 2010’s Invented left me feeling slightly let down from a band that had such great memories attached to it, they fully redeemed themselves with this new venture. It reminds me of classic Jimmy Eat World and why I fell in love with the band. You can be sure that I will be playing this album at maximum volume with the windows down while driving this summer. If you’re looking for a new addition to your summer playlist, check out Damage by Jimmy Eat World now!

Remember the 90’s Nickelodeon Shows?

Back in the days when channels had personality and quirks (not just marketing plans and graphics), Nickelodeon had probably one of the kitchiest channels around was Nickelodeon. Around the time I got cable, the station was really in its early 90s heyday with the launch of its original Nicktoons block (Doug, Rugrats, Ren and Stimpy). While later shows would have some kook in their step, some of these early Nickelodeon shows really were pretty zany, or had odd premises. It’s no wonder we grew up to watch shows like Aquateen Hunger Force…when you think about what we were reared on, that is.

Any how, in a moment of feeling nostalgic here’s a quick shot of some 90’s Nickelodeon TV show intros, in no particular order, and as I found them on the interwebs. Enjoy this walk through memory lane.  For fun I’ll be rating exactly how 90s these intros are on a scale that strikes my fancy.

 

 
Welcome Freshman– 90s scale: 12 slap bracelets

Salute Your Shorts– 90s scale: 4 viewings of Terminator 2 (you know why, of course!)

The Adventures of Pete and Pete– 90s scale: 15 Petunia tattoos (no seriously, Hey Sandy by Polaris is literally one of the most 90s things that is allowed to exist in the universe)

You Can’t Do That On Television– 90s scale: 11 Jagged Little Pills (this little ditty is the Canadian import that gave Alanis Morrisette her start)

Clarissa Explains it All– 90s scale: 1 million bottles of Clear Pepsi. Just because it was. (oddly enough video of this is really hard to find)

The N Team vs. The Power Team

The mad minds of Screwattack.com (a video game website that helped bring about the rise in popularity of internet media and web videos) came up with an interesting concept known as “Death Battle”.  The basic selling points: it’s a battle to the death, based on all the stats and info on the characters involved from various sources.  This way, the battle is as fair as it can be based on what is known.  While some battles are incredibly entertaining like Koopa Troopa vs. Goomba, Rainbow Dash vs. StarScream) others have been incredibly controversial (ex. Spider-Man vs. Batman, Superman vs. Goku).  If you haven’t seen it, check it out.  But, today’s “call to the bullpen” for you flakes has to do with two entities that I have found interesting on my 30 years on this planet.

 

The N team is the fictional team created by the mad minds of Saban Entertainment, with help from the video game world that starred in the short-lived, heavily criticized, cartoon series that I love: Captain N: The Game Master.  Long story short, what started off as a short story in Nintendo Power about a game counselor obtaining amazing powers while trying to fight video game villains that have come to life was adapted into a cartoon series about a high school teen sucked into his video game by the ultimate Warp Zone to help the forces of Video Land against the various villains who threaten to take over.  Captain N, along with his dog, Duke, join the fictional Princess Lana, adaptations of Mega Man, Pit (called Kid Icarus in this series), Simon Belmont, and an oversized living version of the original Nintendo handheld system, Game Boy.  Together, they stop the forces of evil all over Video Land.

 

The Power Team (not to be confused with the Christian empowerment group), was a cartoon short that aired between segments on the television show, Video Power.  Video Power started off as a showcase of games from Acclaim Entertainment for various systems, with previews, reviews, and tips.  Later on, the show turned into a game show that kept some of the original aspects but focused on competition in video games between different contestants.  As for the Power Team, they made up 15 or so minutes of television time from the mad minds of Bohbot Entertainment.  The Power Team’s focus was to stop the forces of evil that originated from their video games from causing chaos in the real world.  The team consisted of Johnny Arcade (who was also the host of the show), and adaptations of BigFoot the monster truck, Tyrone, Kwirk, Kuros, and Max Force, their field leader.  Together, they tangled with the various villains from their respective games while living in the real world.  Now, that you know the teams, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty details.

 

As you have read, the characters that comprise these teams are either fictional or adaptations of actual video game characters.  Sadly, since the developers of each show did not do much research on these characters, their adaptations were very gross misinterpretations.  So, it’s no surprise that these shows are seen in a very negative light amongst gamers.  The Power Team focused on characters from Acclaim, while The N Team has stars various video game companies, like Capcom and Konami.   While both teams initially had 6 members, The N Team gained a 7th member in the second season of the series.  The Power Team took a page out of the original Captain N idea with their exploits going on in the real world as they struggle to make sure they don’t go back to their video game world.  Meanwhile, Captain N is the other way around with battles in the video game world, and few exploits in the real world.  While the belief is that The Power Team had more episodes, only 20 or so have surfaced.  Captain N had its whole series made for DVD some time ago, at a grand total of 33 or so official episodes.  As the N Team has shown their ability to win without having to use their abilities too much, the Power Team has relied on their abilities for the most part.

 

The biggest concern with a fictional battle between the two teams is their adaptations.  If you consider the actual abilities of the two teams, would you leave out the fictional characters, or leave them in the realm of the show’s content?  Also, can you consider it a truly fair battle if you were to leave the abilities within the abilities of the adaptations themselves?  This would severely weaken certain characters like Simon Belmont, or even give a ton of ability to Tyrone, whose abilities are limited to brawling during a basketball game.

 

In conclusion, I would love to see a Death Battle between these two teams, if not to see which team is better, but to see which team was significantly worse by adaptation.  Yes, it’s a guilty pleasure of mine, as I not only own every episode of Captain N, but have yearned for a DVD version of The Power Team.  So, maybe I’m the only person who’d like to see this, but it does raise some interesting questions, really.  So, who do you think could win a battle, let alone a death battle between these two teams?  And better question, should we call to the bullpen to explore it?  Something to ponder while powering up my console…and my memories….

 

_____________________________________________

Writen by: Ezenwa Anyanwu