Coming attractions

Ah, yes. It's another one of those posts.

I'm not dead. I just don't have time to write.

Between picking up a second job, still having to work my first job, the newspaper, a lack of funds with which buy and/or read comics with, and that cruel headmistress known as Halo 3, I haven't had much time to even think about comics, let alone blog about them.

I'm hoping to change that this weekend, though. Hopefully I'll be able to pick up some books, and I'd like to get some kind of write-up on the new TV season starting up as soon as it gets into full swing.

Also, expect a Halo review soon, once I've had time to sufficiently get my head around the single player a second time.

I'm sorry. Sometimes I feel like I spend more time writing posts like these than posts about comics.



The triumphant return of...(Spoilers ahoy)

I wasn't a big fan of 24's sixth season. I didn't talk about it much here, but in my semi-regular user reviews over at TV.com, boy oh boy did I rip into that show on a weekly basis. I've been optimistic about season seven, however, since it seemed as though the writers of the show heard the cries of fans and decided to do something about it. Although we won't be able to say for sure until the season actually airs, it seems to be that a smaller threat and an exorcism of the seriously-overstayed-its-welcome CTU are definitely steps in the right direction.

And, on a pure fanboy level, FOX has let slip a nugget that makes me a very happy fan.

It's majorly spoilerish, so I've placed a buffer image (a la our good friend Mike Sterling) for those who don't want to take a look. For those that do, read at your own risk.


According to whoever wrote the press release for the new season (and promptly reported on by TV.com):

Bauer’s day gets off to a shocking start when former colleague Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard), last seen in 'Day 5,' returns after being left for dead by a terrorist conspirator in CTU’s infirmary.
This is very interesting stuff. I mean, yeah, Tony is supposedly dead, but in my mind it was always very unclear and there are a lot of ways to explain it away. I suppose we should have seen something like this coming, what with the fake ending (or was it the original ending? I forget) of season six, which was to have featured a cliffhanger ending on Tony's return.

This makes me pretty happy. Even though season five was one of the better seasons of the show's run, I think it sort of doomed season six in a way because, with so many characters dead and so many zany plot twists that made sense, it was hard to get into the plot (which was pretty hard to believe at times) and it was pretty hard to care about the characters, since so many of them were brand new and so many of the characters who made it into season six were either incredibly boring (Bill) or had somehow become so in the off-season (Chloe).

Plus, I've always liked Tony. He was sort of the "office" version of Jack, his counterpart in a way. Killing him off, and so unceremoniously at that, was incredibly shocking, but I've always thought it was a bad idea, and I'm glad it's something they're rectifying.

I'm still very skeptical about this upcoming season, but I'm really, really hoping that the writers can make it fresh, exciting, and interesting again. I like to think that the return of Tony Almeida is a step in that direction.



Almost like it's 2004 all over again

I watched Spider-Man 2 for the first time in a long time the other day. In doing so, I came away with a few thoughts.*

Firstly, the idea that Spider-Man 2 is one of (if not the) best comic book adaptations in the history of the genre (or sub-genre, as it were) was reinforced in my mind. Secondly, as much as I love the movies as they are, I wish there had been more fight scenes along the same lines as the train scene. Thirdly, I am as disappointed with the film's portrayal of Otto Octavius (a.k.a. "Doctor Octopus") as I was when I initially saw the film in the theatre.

"But Matt!" you're surely thinking. "What are you talking about? Doc Ock was great in Spider-Man 2!" And he was, to a point. But there's always been something about the character's story in the film that I've never really been able to get over.

And that's his tentacles.

Let me explain. His tentacles look great. They're very cool and they're used to good effect throughout the film. However, if you need a refresher, Octavius explains that the tentacle harness is outfitted with an "inhibitor chip" - a small microchip that keeps the artificial intelligence of the harness from influencing his actions. In the ensuing accident that causes the tentacles to be fused to Octavius' body, the inhibitor chip is damaged, and the influence of the artificial intelligence is a very large contributing factor in Octavius' crime spree.

This has never sat right with me. The way I've always seen it is that, by introducing the idea that A.I. is influencing Doctor Octopus' decisions and rationale, you take away a good portion of the character's motivation and, in a way, his accountability. It also seems that it diminishes what otherwise would've been a very nuanced and deep character. With the A.I., it appears that Otto is a pretty nice guy who gets stuck in something beyond his control, something that he's not really responsible for. In a way, the tentacles act as a psycho-changer when one isn't remotely called for - the story dictates that Otto Octavius undergo a severe personality change; however, instead of using the pieces of his personality already there to facilitate said change, they use an outside force to do so, which robs the character of all responsibility and accountability from there on out. Isn't it enough that Otto is a relatively pleasant (if slightly pig-headed and arrogant) scientist who becomes a monster due to his own hubris, who is driven insane not only by his utter and complete failure (and the effects of the explosion), but also due to his role in the death of his beloved wife? This would have added a hell of a lot more depth and nuance to the already great performance Alfred Molina brought to the table. Instead, the notion that the tentacles are influencing his judgment does little more than to diminish the story of Octavius' fall and redemption.

And what bothers me most, I think, is that it would've been so easy to change this at any time during the production of the film without sacrificing anything of consequence at a script level. All that would've been needed, really, are a couple of changes to some dialog towards the beginning and end of the film. Add in a quick bit showing Otto's arrogant streak and change around his expository "This is why I'm eeevil now" scene later in the film, and the rest of the film remains untouched.

It all seems very much like a lost opportunity to me.

And seriously - who puts A.I. in a tentacle harness? That's like giving sentience to an electric power drill.

What do YOU think, Gentle Readers? Am I voicing a valid complaint about an example of weak storytelling, or am I bitching for the sake of bitching?


*Yes, yes - I KNOW I'm complaining about a film that came out THREE years ago, but I needed SOMETHING to get the creative juices flowing after my brief hiatus, alright? Bear with me.