Books Of Oa: Rann-Thanagar War

RANN-THANAGAR WAR (DC)
Written by Dave Gibbons, drawn by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Joe Bennett
Collects Rann-Thanagar War #1-6
Rann-Thanagar War might seems like a strange book to include in the chronicles of the rejuvenated Green Lantern Corps, but GLs Kyle Rayner and Kilowog both played an important, though not main, role in this lead-in miniseries to 2005-2006’s Infinite Crisis which changed the shape of the DC Universe (in a few annoying places for at least this reader). At the time I was super excited about this book along with it’s brother and sister minis OMAC Project, Villains United and Day of Vengeance all of which I bought after being blown away by the Countdown to Infinite Crisis one-shot. I was in hook line and sinker and even liked Infinite Crisis when it came out (haven’t read it a second time, though the trade is on the way), but I was pretty disappointed that the series’ didn’t all really flow into Infinite Crisis as much as I hoped they would. In fact, the minis all lead to a series of one-shots that made the connection to the larger story.

But, enough of my personal history with these books, a little bit of history about the book. Though the series can be read on it’s own, it wouldn’t hurt to have read the 2004-2005 Adam Strange miniseries that Andy Diggle wrote and Pasqual Ferry drew. It was pretty awesome, though I don’t remember all of the details. Luckily–and shockingly depending on your experience–there’s actually a pretty damn solid recap page in the beginning that sums things up pretty well. The deal is that Rann (Adam Strange’s adoptive planet) got teleported out of its old orbit which put it smack up against Thanagar (the Hawkman planet). They’re enemies and both thought the other did this on purpose which spawned a war. Strange got in contact with the Hawks on Earth and brought them into the fight where they were joined by Kyle Rayner, Kilowog, Captain Comet, Vril Dox and L.E.G.I.O.N. and others, including Starfire’s evil sister Blackfire. As it actually turns out it’s not all of Thanagar intent on killed the Rannians, but actually a rogue faction within the society (I didn’t catch the real world parallels until this read), a group who worships death and the Thanagarian death god Onimar Synn. So, while the war’s raging, our heroes band together to fight on various fronts to try and stop the war.

As far as GL involvement goes, R-T W hits somewhere between Rebirth and Green Lantern Corps: Recharge, though the timing is a little strange to me. See, Kyle mentions the reverence which Captain Comet showed for him just because he was a GL in the first issue of Recharge. There’s even a span of time in which Kyle isn’t seen in the book, but he returns later which kind of fits in with his adventures in Recharge, but I assumed those adventures took a longer time with him hopping around the universe. Oh well. Anyway, the Guardians don’t want GLs involved in the war, but  is tasked with kicking some Khunds out of a space sector in which they are unwanted. Seeing as the Khunds are being hired by one side of the other, Kyle gets sucked into things with the aforementioned Captain Comet who’s kicking around with L.E.G.I.O.N. temporarily. He and Comet wind up back on Thanagar where they first throw down with Synn and then discover some living Thanagarians. Things are getting nuts when ‘Wog shows up to help out and also help terraform the planet to make it more livable. That’s pretty  much it until the book ends with Kyle and Kilowog joining back up with the rest of the crew.

It’s interesting to see Kyle not only fighting a death god like he would in Blackest Night with the rest of the universe, but also some actual zombies. I read every issue Kyle appeared in, but I can’t remember if he every fought zombies before that. As a story, I liked this one even more the second time around. Gibbons did a great job crafting a big huge story. It’s almost like he was trying out for Green Lantern Corps (though I’m sure the deal was already done by that point).

Of course, the story doesn’t end there and I’m not even talking about Infinite Crisis itself which has some definite and clear Green Lantern involvement, especially at the very end. But, what I’m really talking about is the Rann-Thanagar Special that came out after the mini finished and while IC was still going on. This one really tied the story into the overall Infinite Crisis mythology by saying that Superboy Prime pushed Rann and Thanagar into one another and caused all the destruction. The one-shot brings a few different storylines together. You’ve got the R-T War stuff but also the then-recently resurrected Donna Troy and her crew of people on her floating Greek city spaceship thing. The biggest piece of Green Lantern business that goes on in this issue is the death of Kyle’s longtime girlfriend and Alan Scott’s daughter Jade who Kyle had given some of his power to so that she could have powers again. As she passed, she gave Kyle his power back and he became Ion again which lead into, the 12-issue series of the same name written by longtime Kyle chronicler Ron Marz (review coming next week). We also see the Guardians call Kyle, with his augmented/increased power a catalyst for change and that he’s the first step in a new breed.

Like I said, my Infinite Crisis memories are a little sketchy and I don’t remember how the war against the space-hands works out as far as that series goes, but I do remember early issues of 52 dealing with many of these characters making their ways back to Earth to varying degrees of screwed-up ness (Alan Scott lost an eye, something happened to Jericho’s voice, etc.). I’ve got a lot more reading to do if I want to make sense of all this stuff again.

I’m pretty solid on the major GL series from here to just before Blackest Night, but I’ve also got to track down my pre-IC JLA issues to see how GL stuff plays into it. That book took such a massive decline in my mind that I think I’ve blocked a lot of the stories out. I know John Stewart was involved and Kyle gives his resignation in the first issue of Recharge, but there had to me a few adventures here and there that I’m missing. I’ll get to them, I promise! Post-OYL, I’m good to go.

Casting Internets

Twasn’t the best day ever, but these links brightened my day a bit.

Tom Spurgeon‘s thoughts on comic book piracy are pretty fascinating. I agree with pretty much everything he says (the stuff I understand at least). The sense of entitlement that my generation feels towards all things digital is incredibly annoying to me. The Art Asylum blog showed off the Battle Beast that will be included with the MiniMate carrying case. I love the original toys and hope DST eventually puts them out in their own waves!The ControlBot4000 T-shirt on RedBubble looks AWESOME! (via Shirtoid)

The Source posted more pages from Weird Worlds, their anthology book that lines up with huge chunks of my theory on creating a great anthology comic.

I was first introduced to Thomas P.M. Barnett thanks to a left wing sociology professor who seemed to think he was non-partisan, but clearly was. He made us read The Pentagon’s New Map, which was fascinating. I picked up his next book, but haven’t read it yet. I’m glad to see him writing on Esquire.com.

I had the exact same thoughts about Boom’s CBGB comic as Robot 6‘s Brigid Alverson did. It’s kind of creepy actually.

I’m cautiously optimistic about the animated All-Star Superman movie. It’s one of my favorite comics and I love almost everything else they’ve done, but this one makes me a little leery. According to Robot 6 it’ll be out on February 22, so I guess I’ll know sometime after that.

Toy Commercial Tuesday: Alien

I wonder how this toy did when these commercials started airing in 1979. When I was a kid, I’d see commercials for R-rated movies and think they looked pretty cool, but I don’t remember buying the toys based on them. Actually, I did have a Rambo figure and not one of those weird cartoon-based ones. I think it’s really interesting that they seemed to put all their eggs in the Alien basket and didn’t create any heroes that same size. The jaw-moving action feature is rad and it’s also interesting that the commercial almost tells kids how to play with it: run around with it with your friends and try to reenact the movie you probably haven’t seen. I’m sure most kids wound up doing what I did and tossing all their toys in one or two boxes and creating all kinds of rad epic battle mashups with them, but that wouldn’t have made for a very good commercial methinks.

Books Of Oa: Green Lantern No Fear

GREEN LANTERN: NO FEAR
Written by Geoff Johns, drawn by Darwyn Cook, Carlos Pacheco, Ethan Van Sciver and Simone Bianchi
Collects Green Lantern #1-6, Green Lantern Secret Files and Origins 2005
As I mentioned in the first Books of Oa post about Green Lantern: Rebirth, I’m looking to get a better grasp of Hal Jordan as a character and see how the overarching, multi-color Lanterns started out. While I wasn’t doing much blogging over the Thanksgiving holiday, I was stealing away time here and there to read through a lot of the earlier GL and GLC trades and also spent an inordinate amount of time trying to piece together not only a real time release chronology of post-Rebirth Green Lantern comics, but also an in continuity one as well. That’s a roundabout way of saying that the actual rebirth of the Green Lantern Corps is surprisingly non existent in the actual comics. See, Rebirth finished off with a cover date of May 2005 with the Green Lantern comic starring Jordan kicked off in July 2005. Hal’s still got his ring and kicking around Earth and fighting some familiar villains and even visits Oa at one point, but we never actually see the Guardians talking to the five GLs from Rebirth (Hal, John Stewart, Kilowog, Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner) and telling them what’s up. I wasn’t expecting a full issue or miniseries focusing on these kinds of things, but I was surprised going back and discovering that not even a scene of such things exists and it doesn’t in Green Lantern Corps: Recharge or any of the other books I’ve read so far.

Anyway, the point of this review isn’t to talk about what wasn’t in the book, but was. Aside from some somewhat schmaltzy short stories taken from what I assume was the Secret Files issue in which we see Hal flying Kyle and a brief history lesson, we’re along for the ride as Hal gets back to his life. He’s living in Coast City which is being rebuilt, but having trouble getting new people to move in. He’s trying to get a job back in the Air Force flying planes. And, most importantly to the action of the series, he’s fighting villains like Manhunters old and new, Hector Hammond (as much as you can fight that giant-headed weirdo), The Shark and Black Hand. We get a hint after the Manhunter story that a group of GLs we thought were dead from Hal’s rampage seem to be held by the Manhunters and their mysterious hooded leader which is a major point of the next arc. There’s also some yellow alien Gremlins running around who, we’re told, evolved Shark and Hammond. There’s an interesting note in the issue where Hammond says that the aliens were planning on harvesting both villains for parts to sell as weapons in an upcoming intergalactic war. I don’t remember either character or the Gremlins being mentioned during Infinite Crisis or Sinestro Corps War, so it could be a detail that Johns hasn’t gotten around to getting back to.

On the other (heh) hand, Hal’s dealings with the higher powered Black Hand (the Gremlins did something to him too, but I’m not sure what) definitely refer to Blackest Night. The rejuvenated villain seems to have an even deeper connection to death and even says “You think you’re strong. But death is stronger. It is the pure power of the far end of the emotional spectrum. The emptiness of space. The blackest night.” At the time the scene just seemed like the ramblings of a madman, but reading it now, it’s easy to see that Johns was planting seeds not just for Sinestro Corps War, but also Blackest Night in the earliest moments of the series.

When these issues first came out, I wasn’t all that interested in them. I wasn’t a big Hal Jordan fan and the inclusion of weird old villains like Shark and Hector Hammond that I didn’t care about, didn’t help matters much. This time around, I’m still not super interested in those villains, but I do like seeing the foundation for the books I’m still enjoying to this day. I was also interested to see the establishment of Hal as a character. He’s confident, like I’ve said previously, but he’s also a good man with a good heart who’s trying to do the right thing, it’s just that his ego gets in his way sometimes. I’m not up on my Hal Jordan history, but there’s an event in Hal’s life that I thought was really interesting. See, after his dad died in a plane explosion, his mom didn’t want any of them to join the Air Force, but Hal did anyway. She wouldn’t talk to him after that, so when she was on her death bed and she refused to see Hal because he was in the Air Force, Hal had to find a way out of the AF without quitting so he could go see her. He couldn’t bring himself to quit so he slugged his commanding officer and got thrown out. His ego got in the way of something that could have been easily explained away. The worst part of the whole ordeal is that he went to see his dying mother, free of the Air Force and she wouldn’t see him. It’s an interesting relationship with his past that Hal has and it’s interesting to see it revealed here and there.

Last, but not least, it’s time to talk about the artwork. I’m not Cook’s biggest fan when he’s writing, but his art has an interesting Silver Age quality to it that’s still dynamic, plus it’s interesting to see that style on a newer character like Kyle Rayner as seen in the opening story from the Secret Files issue. Van Sciver jumper around here and there with a retelling of Hal’s origin early on and an issue or two where he gets to really flex his artistic muscles by covering Kilowog, a slew of rookie GLs, a hulking Shark, the gross Hammond and the creepiest Black Hand ever seen up until then. Pacheco has art chores on the story that brings the Manhunters back into the fold. His art is solid and I like it, but it doesn’t blow me away. The most interesting artist in this book, as far as I’m concerned is Bianchi. I completely forgot that he worked on the series here and there in the early days. I’m a big fan of his work with Grant Morrison in Seven Soldiers: Shining Knight, so seeing more of his work with characters I know and love is a lot of fun. He also gets to play with the same villains that Van Sciver does and it’s really interesting to see such different takes on the characters all within the same book. I can see how the jumping on and off of artists might have bothered some folks, but it doesn’t bother me at all.

Next up for Books Of Oa, I’ve got Rann-Thanagar War which featured Kyle Rayner’s first post-Rebirth action (as far as I can remember), then Green Lantern Corps: Recharge and the second volume of the regular GL series. I’m having a great time re-reading these books and hope to either get my hands on a copy of the Infinite Crisis trade or dig out my issues so I can remember how the GLs played into that story, but if not, I’ll come back to it later on.

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1

I’m not a Harry Potter fan. I tried reading the first book and it just didn’t do much for me (I felt like I’d experienced a lot of the themes and magical elements in comics and Neil Gaiman books, not that they were lifted or anything, but it just wasn’t new to me). I’m also not a big fan of the fantasy genre in general. The missus and her family are big fans of the books and the movies and my parents like the movies too, so we went and saw the flick the day after Thanksgiving. Overall I had a pretty good experience with the movie. I’ve spent a good deal of time talking things over with my in-house expert and still don’t see why no one tried to just shoot Harry Potter or Voldermort in the face, but I’m getting past that hang up.

One of the difficulties I’ve had with some of the latter movies is that sometimes they don’t feel like complete stories if you haven’t read the books. That doesn’t make for a great watching experience if you’re uninitiated. Deathly Hallows Part 1 didn’t seem to suffer from that too much, though I did have plenty of questions after the movie, some of which came from not having seen the previous movie recently and not having a great working knowledge of the film series. I understood going in that this movie wasn’t built for me but I’m happy that it still made sense for the most part.

As I’m sure everyone already knows, this is basically the story of Harry Potter on the run as Voldermort’s forces really ramp up their efforts to get him. Harry runs away with Ron and Hermione, trying to stay out of the way while figuring out what the things that Dumbledore bequeathed to them actually mean and how they can use them to collect and destroy the Horcruxes (which hold a piece of Voldermort’s soul) while also trying to figure out how to take Voldermort down. There’s lots of walking and setting up camp, but also some pretty solid action sequences. The movie has a darkness to it that fits the plot well, especially the excellent animated sequence that felt like it had a 30s German expressionist vibe to it (I’d love to see a whole movie in that style). Much like some of the Lord of the Rings movies I’ve seen, I think the flick could have had some scenes of walking and setting up camp trimmed out and I wasn’t super impressed with how the director showed the passage of time in the film.

There were four things that bothered me a lot in the movie from a storytelling point of view. First off, the kids should have started looking at the things that Dumbledore willed to them sooner. It took way to long for them to really start examining what these clearly important things meant to them and their cause. Second, Ron getting upset thinking that Harry and Hermione were hanging out felt really trite. Third, Harry should have made a much larger hole when he jumped into the water, that was just something silly thrown in to make the whole scene more dramatic, but a person alone in the wintry woods would make as large of a hole as they could before jumping into ice. For whatever it’s worth, I hate that idea that magic only works through a wand and had to be spoken out loud. And finally, why were there no protection spells cast upon Dumbledore’s Pink Floyd-inspired gravesite? The missus explained to me that Dumbledore had been carrying around the wand from the story throughout all the movies, but that no one else knew how powerful it was.

All that being said, I was surprised how dark the movie was. SPOILERS AHEAD That torture scene between Bellatrix Lestrange and Hermione were intense (I think I hate Helena Bonham Carter all around), but the best damn scene in the whole movie involved a CGI creature (not Kreature) getting knifed through a portal thanks to that witch. Dobby has an awesome speech only to wind up dead a few minutes later. I felt so empowered and then kicked in the gut. That’s tricky business but it worked on me. I almost shed a few tears.

I think that’s all I got on this one. One of the reasons I don’t like magic-based fiction is that, all too often, things can be described by saying “It works because it’s magic!” which is a total cop out in my opinion. The missus was able to explain a lot of things to me that made sense and I do have a lot of respect for what JK Rowling was able to create, this is a world very much like the most intricate comic book universes with lots and lots of nooks and crannies that could further be explored, like my spinoff idea which would feature a start-up school for wizards in the United States. Bring in some familiar faces and sass things up with Americans and you’ve got a whole new franchise in the works. I am available to brainstorm ideas. Anyway, I hear the next movie will be pretty balls to the wall which I’m looking forward to.

Casting Internets

Hope everyone survived Thanksgiving. It’s been a few days since I was able to do one of these, so some of these links might be old, so bare with me (or is it “bear” neither make much sense).

I’m pouring one out for Leslie Nielsen and one for Irvin Kirshner, two people who had profound influences on me growing up through their movies. George Lucas had some really nice things to say about Kirshner over at StarWars.com. Whoa, check out the weirdness that was the original Superman Thanksgiving Day parade balloon that Only The Young Die Young showed off this week.

Am I the only one who thinks that Joss Whedon comes off a little douchey in this E post where reacts to the news of the new Buffy movie? Specifically this quote “This is a sad, sad reflection on our times, when people must feed off the carcasses of beloved stories from their youths—just because they can’t think of an original idea of their own, like I did with my Avengers idea that I made up myself.” Claiming to have made up an Avengers story yourself seems a little misleading considering the movie is not only based on existing characters but also movie versions of characters who have already been established. Dan Hipp does it again with his Jem piece.

Jason Geyer’s Ottertorial over on AFi about long lost Secret Wars toys that never were wasn’t only fascinating on it’s own, but also for the bevy of links I’m still making my way through in the first paragraph. Highly recommended for toy fans!One thing I learned while working at ToyFare is that, while Predator toys are cool, coming up with something about new figures is tough because, let’s face it, most people haven’t liked a Predator movie since the original. Anyway, NECA’s latest 1/4 scale Predator kind of gave me goosebumps with how rad it is. (via Toynewsi)A Vader spatula? Yes please!

Rod Hendrickson’s Shelf Porn over on Robot 6 might be the most bonerific set of pics I’ve ever seen. SECRET ROOM!

As if I wasn’t already jealous enough of my buddy Kiel for being the best comics reporter in the biz, now I had to add him talking to Kevin Smith to the list of other things I’m envious of. Check out his article about Kevin Smith’s Green Hornet comic for Dynamite over on CBR. Though I generally don’t care about Green Hornet aside from Bruce Lee’s involvement in the TV show, I’m pretty curious about this series and will hopefully check it out in trade.ThinkGeek‘s Big Bang Theory “Bazinga” almost makes me wish I still needed to pack a lunch. (via Fashionably Geek)

I did a list over on Topless Robot about five Image comics that should get made into TV shows and five that shouldn’t in the wake of Walking Dead’s popularity.

I can’t believe The Beat spent entire month of teasers on ONE book from Image. That’s crazytown.

I love Family Video.

Dammit, I missed watching The Initiatiation of Sarah for Stacie Ponder’s Final Girl Film Club. Curses!I Heart Chaos posted pics of Cybermen walking around London. I think I would have punched one and ran away screaming.

I’d be happy to never hear about the Spider-Man musical again. That is all.

And finally, go check out my buddy Sean Collins’ web comic, newly colored, over on DestructorComics.com.

Rad New Mr. Peanut Commercial

I saw this Mr. Peanut commercial quite a few times over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and found myself chuckling every single time. That damn nutcracker! I knew his voice sounded familiar and just placed it today while walking around and it popped into my head. It’s Robert Downey Jr.! Very cool.

We Want Action: Batman Under The Red Hood (2010)

At this point, I’m solidly in love with Warner Bros.’ animated DC movies. Check out my post about Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, which I just reviewed recently. When I first heard that the Red Hood story which brought formerly dead Robin Jason Todd back from the dead after being pummeled to death by the Joker. His return was explained by the fact that Superboy Prime was punching walls leading up to Infinite Crisis which sent shock waves throughout reality that changed it in various ways. I actually dug the story which was written by Judd Winick, a favorite of mine, though it was one of the worst kept secrets in comics when the issues were coming out. Who was under the red hood? Who else? Of course it would be Jason Todd. To call the story controversial would be an understatement, but even worse has been Todd’s treatment since he returned. Bruce Jones wrote some of the worst comics of all time with the One Year Later Nightwing issues which starred Todd taking on Dick Grayson’s identity to fight crime. He then got sucked into the pointless nonsense that was Countdown which eventually turned him into Red Robin, which referred to Dick Grayson’s Kingdom Come identity. Now his early days are being retold thanks to Winick in a mini that I’ve enjoyed from the few issues I’ve read. It would actually seem that Winick incorporated elements from that mini in this movie, which he also wrote the scripts for.

I watched the movie with the missus and we can’t remember if she read the issues or not, but she remembered at least parts of the story from flashbacks and whatnot. My main worry was that this story might be a little too inside comic ball to work for the uninitiated, but she enjoyed the movie as much as I did. The inclusion of our shared favorite actor Neil Patrick Harris as the voice of Nightwing helped a lot and was an interesting take on the character: that of brash hero that reminded me of how much I actually miss seeing Nightwing in the DCU. Dick as Batman makes a lot of sense, but I always liked the lighter version of Batman that he created for himself as Nightwing.

Anyway, the story follows along pretty closely to that of the comic with just a few changes to streamline things and take out all the Infinite Crisis references. There isn’t a box full of colored Kryptonite and Nightwing doesn’t come into the fight hurt, though he does leave it that way. And, most importantly, Jason wasn’t resurrected by other-dimensional wall-punching but thanks to Ra’s al Ghul who hired the Joker to distract Batman but never expected or wanted Robin to be murdered. In an attempt to make it up to Batman, Ra’s switched Jason’s body with a double and put the actual corpse into the Lazarus Pit which turned the boy quite mad. Soon enough he showed up in Gotham making a play for Black Mask’s territory and having all kinds of run ins with various hoods.

Action-wise, there’s equal amounts of good and bad. When it comes to the bad, the moments aren’t super important, but did rub me the wrong way a little. There’s a scene where Batman’s chasing the Red Hood. Bats is driving the Batwing while Todd’s in a car speeding along. The scene is well choreographed, but my problem lies in the fact that they used CGI vehicles instead of traditional animation like the rest of the movie. That always bugs me. The other sticky situation was when Batman and Nightwing were chasing Red Hood on foot over various rooftops. Anything through the air looks awesome (I actually really like how acrobatic Nightwing comes off), but when the characters are actually running they look kind of ridiculous. I think it’s their arm movements, but those scenes took me right out of the moment.

Aside from those quibbles, though, the movie’s damn good. The fight where Batman and Nightwing square off against the Amazo robot was tons of fun. The animation choreographers did a great job of showing how in-sync these two fighters are. There’s also a scene where Batman and Red Hood fight a quartet of armored foes with various abilities that was a lot of explosive fun. But the real fulcrum of the story rests on the relationship between Jason and Bruce. Jason blames Bruce not so much for his death, but for letting the Joker run around after he killed Jason. Jensen Ackles, an actor I’ve only seen in My Bloody Valentine 3D, does a surprisingly good job with the speech that actually hit me in the gut a little. I was kind of surprised they didn’t shy away from this and now have even more respect for these movies. They’ve got home runs in both original interpretations of characters like Green Lantern and Wonder Woman and straight-up adaptation of stories like the various Superman/Batman arcs and now Red Hood. I’m extremely looking forward to whatever comes out next.

Late To The Xbox Live Party: TimeShift (2007)

After not playing much of anything for a while, getting back on the Peggle train and being infinitely disappointed with Dead Rising 2 which I disliked so much that I only played it a few times before selling it back to Game Stop, I was looking for something new to try out. I haven’t had the best luck with games lately (though I still love Peggle, of course) I didn’t want to spend too much money on some games I might not be too smitten with. I recently stopped trying to play Brutal Legend and traded that in and still have Bioshock and Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 which didn’t suck me in right away, but I needed some new blood in the water so I picked up TimeShift and Mercenaries 2 in the last few weeks. Luckily, I had a lot of fun with TimeShift thought it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting when I popped it in.

As usual, I skipped most of the story, but you’re a dude in a time altering suit running around shooting people and using your powers to save the day and get back to your regular time. I think it might also be a strange alternate universe kind of thing in which WWII was involved, but like I said, I skipped all that nonsense. I just wanted to shoot some bad guys.

Overall, I thought the game was a lot of fun, but wasn’t spectacular by any means. The running and shooting mechanics were all good in my book and didn’t seem buggy at all. The various weapons at your disposal were fun, I especially liked the crossobow with exploding arrows which reminded me of Chewie’s blaster bow in Star Wars. The beat down controls weren’t great, but this is clearly not a hand to hand combat fighting game. The game really lives and dies on the time altering mechanic which works out pretty good, though, for some reason, I thought it had the ability to age or de-age specific objects instead of just moving time back and forth or just stopping it altogether. There are some really annoying moments in the game that involve hitting a button and then shifting time that are completely unnecessary, but overall it’s pretty fun. Actually being able to freeze time, run up on the bad guys and plug them with exploding arrows or throw sticky grenades at them and watching everyone die once time catches back up is a lot of fun.

Without being spectacular in any way, TimeShift gave me a game that got me back into playing first person shooters again which will hopefully lead into other games soon. Hey, for under $10 used, you can’t really go wrong with anything that gives a few weeks’ worth of entertainment, can you? Not in my book. I’m thinking of taking Mercenaries 2 back because it’s too damn buggy. I read online that you’ve got to unplug your internet cable just to play the damn thing. I think that’s worthy of a return. Really, I’m waiting for the Wolverine game to drop just a little bit lower in price so I can get that. Maybe by then, I’ll be interested in space marines again and try out Mass Effect or Gears of War 2.

Books vs. Movie: Diary Of A Wimpy Kid (2010)

As I mentioned earlier this week, I had a wonderful time reading the five Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, so checking out the movie was a logical next step. One of the questions I asked author Jeff Kinney when I interviewed him for MTV Geek about the latest volume was whether it was difficult coming up with actors to match his cartoons. He said something along the lines of trying to match the spirit of the characters to the actor and hopefully getting a close enough physical match. I’d say everyone involved with the Wimpy Kid flick did a pretty damn good job of it.

Zachary Gordon does a great job of capturing Greg’s innocent arrogance, Robert Capron nails Rowley’s youthfulness, Grayson Russell looks EXACTLY like Fregley and Devon Bostick works pretty well as Greg’s jerky older brother Rodrick. I wasn’t as sold on either of Greg’s parents though, Steve Zahn as Dad and Rachel Harris as mom just didn’t work for me. Zahn just doesn’t seem like dad material to me because I’ve seen and enjoyed him in movies like Saving Silverman, but more importantly–and offputting as a fan of the books–is that Mom and Dad don’t match up very well between the book and the movie. Even with Dad doing his weird Halloween ritual and Mom giving her speech about girly mags to Rodrick intact, there was something missing from the characters that I couldn’t quite place, but definitely felt.

I loved seeing the above gags in the film along with other parts like the trick or treating and ball-vs.-bike game, but one thing that Kinney mentioned to me that I think makes up the biggest difference between the books and the movie is that he tends to write gags that he links together whereas, with a movie like this, there has to be more of a story and plot put into place, which meant some things needed to be moved around, which I didn’t have a problem with. It’s the additions to the movie that left me scratching my head. For instance, I understand what the addition of the Angie character was supposed to show that not everyone needs to try and go for popularity, but as far as the story goes, she doesn’t really serve any purpose. I also didn’t like the mother/son dance scene because, very frankly, no one would applaud the weird synchronized dance Rowley did with his mom, especially a bunch of grade school boys.

Those complaints aside, I still liked the movie as a whole. I was pretty deep into liking it when they broke out with “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” which is one of the all-time greatest jams of all time. The almost-fight scene at the end of the movie between Greg and Rowley was hilarious, though I wasn’t a big fan of how they brought the older kids back in the middle of the day at a school and made Rowley eat the cheese (in the book, no one else is around). I’m also not a huge fan of Greg giving that big speech at the end of the book because I feel like that character wouldn’t do anything to risk losing whatever popularity he had by making a Mean Girls-like closing speech. But overall, it was fun to see a lot of my favorite gags from the book up on the big screen and I’m looking forward to future installments.

Anyone else catch the Wimpy Kid balloon at this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade? At first I didn’t like the look of the character with his nervous-looking mouth, but then I got the joke: he’s supposed to be worried that his handlers are going to drop him. At least, I think that’s the joke. Anyone have a better idea?