Marc Webb’s reboot of the cinematic world of Spider-man takes us back to a time before the popular Mary Jane Watson was ever on the scene, instead thrusting us back into a young Peter Parker’s teenage years, a time when he was still balancing academics, a crush on the popular Gwen Stacy, and just in general dealing with being a bit of an outcast and slightly cleverer than all of those around him at school.
Of course, an accident in the lab involving a spider bite and the subsequent death of his beloved uncle soon sees the birth of our new and unsure hero Spider-man, in the process putting him on a direct collision course with another by-product creation of the very lab that created him – the fearsome, regenerating Lizard!
While the argument could probably be made that there wasn’t really any need to reboot the already strong Spider-man cinematic universe in the first place, I guess the call was made to try and attract a stronger following in the youth market by taking Spider-man a little further back to his roots – and to be fair The Amazing Spider-man certain does achieve this.
Although on a whole the story isn’t going to win any awards for drama or writing, not to mention actually remain a must see memorable comic book movie film, it does introduce a fairly young and very likable Andrew Garfield in the role of Spider-man who does an excellent job of bringing to life a very complicated young man who is struggling to find his identity in the world, a job made even harder by these new found abilities of his.
There is a decent amount of action to be had, a lot of fun swinging around the city Spider-man shots to take in, and a lot of good characterisation to enjoy – and despite one or two silly and downright cheesy moments, the film is actually a good comic book movie watch, and one which certainly entertained me once I finally got around to viewing it.
The actors are all well cast and the music is an excellent addition to the visuals on screen, not to mention just how good the special effects of course are.
Overall this is a polished action movie that comic book fans will certainly enjoy and even more importantly for Sony, makes Spider-man more relatable to the impressionable youth market once again!
That doesn’t necessarily meant that I liked it though.
Written by Brian Michael Bendis (who also happens to write the comic book series Ultimate Spider-man) together with Paul Dini and Man of Action (the guys behind Ben 10), Ultimate Spider-man gives us a fun to watch, often silly, but always very action-packed new take on Spider-man, new in the sense that while Spider-man is still the same insecure teenage Peter Parker we’re all pretty familiar with (and probably sick of by now), but now thrust into a new world of adventure by teaming up with Nick Fury’s S.H.I.E.L.D., gaining access to some pretty fancy gadgetry, and finally being put on a team of heroes consisting of White Tiger, Luke Cage, Nova and Iron Fist!
Ultimate Spider-man puts a twist into the origins of many of Spider-man’s more classic villains, but at the same time digs deep into the archives to bring back many of the minor faces as well as tease all the hardcore Marvel fanboys by inserting loads of references to different costumes, events and storylines which only a real fan would catch. A lot of the humor is slapstick based and gets combined with a very frequent breaking of the fourth wall, where the action freezes, you as the viewer gets directly addressed by Peter/Spider-man, before finally returning to the unfolding action.
This does get a little old fairly quickly, but it’s a minor annoyance when you realise just how much this action packed Spider-man and super pals adventure sucks you in, and at the same time makes you giggle more than once.
The animation is extremely slick, detailed and well done, particularly the choreography of the numerous fight scenes. Similarly, the voice actors all fit their respective characters like a glove, which is then wrapped in some fantastic soundtrack music.
Well worth the watch, and contains an extra sense of feel good to all the already hardcore comic book fans who will undoubtedly catch most of the little extras the writers seem so keen on including!
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultimate_Spider-Man_%28TV_series%29
I’m thoroughly, thoroughly enjoying this animated version of Spider-Man it must be said, even though it is telling all the stories we’ve heard before, just this time with more of a youthful, upbeat twist to them! :)
We all know the story, puny Peter Parker gets bitten by a radioactive spider, inherits a whole heap of spider-related abilities, which together with a little technical ingenuity from the genius himself, results in a youthful new masked hero flipping and swinging around New York City!
What the writers have cleverly done is taken the original Spider-Man story-arcs, condensed them and then reconfigured such that all the important classic and current characters appear together in the same timeline, but in such away that they are still in the process of evolving into the roles we’re accustomed to seeing them in, meaning that everything still feels very new.
This has resulted in a very accessible show that both kids and adults can enjoy together, with enough familiarity to please all the closet fanboys, and enough freshness to make you want to watch these well tread stories again, even if it is technically for the umpteenth time!
Matching this upbeat and more youthful approach is a fantastic simplified animation style which believe it or not, actually works for the show, and ends up being another contributing factor to the freshness of this new incarnation. Sure the show has its serious moments and commentary to make, but thanks to the animation style you are never have to be completely bogged down by all of this, and instead can just simply sit back and enjoy with a smile on your face.
The voice cast have been well picked, and the great mix of background and theme music round off the show well, and in a nutshell, if you have kids, make them watch this, and if you are a spider-man/comic book fan yourself, then sit down and watch it them.
The cutesy visuals are misleading – this really is an enjoyable outing! :)
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spectacular_Spider-Man_%28TV_series%29
One of the things that pretty much fell to the wayside after having Jessie enter our lives is my gaming. Last year I pretty much sold off all my games (thank you Cash Crusaders) from my collection, and can count the number of titles I played on my dusty XBOX 360 on my two hands.
I did enjoy some time off at the end of the year though, and despite pretty much being in single parent mode for most of my two weeks away from work, I did manage to squeeze some game time in late at night, finally knocking off Red Dead Redemption which I must say was a thoroughly engrossing and entertaining game.
2012 looks like it is going to be pretty similar in terms of playing games (i.e. there won’t be a lot of it), but at least I have managed to stock up for those rare occasions when I can maybe steal a hour or two of controller time. Thanks to a tidy little sum of Christmas money from the Montgomery clan (meaning I can spend it without feeling guilty about not spending in on the Lotter clan), I managed to pick up both Bulletstorm and Darksiders second-hand dirt cheap from BT Games.
I’ve since sneakily given both a spin and can report that I’m looking forward to both of them, which is a good thing considering the fact that I need to maximise my enjoyment out of my limited game time! :)
As for the last three games which I did manage to finish off over the course of 2011 (and for which I probably won’t get around to writing up decent reviews for), I thought it a good idea to quickly jot down some thoughts. So here they are in order of completion:
Spider-man: Shattered Dimensions
Looking past the cheesy Stan Lee cut scenes, I seriously loved this outing in the Spider-man game franchise (having also enjoyed the previous Spider-man: Web of Shadows release). A nice twist was having four different Spider-man characters from the various universes to play with, each having their own style of play, including the Noir Spider-man that seemed to lift a lot of his stealth gameplay straight from the stunning earlier Batman: Arkham Asylum release!
Plenty of web swinging and bashing people in the face is the order of the day for this third person action adventure game, with good graphics, a good story, slick fight engine, and great voice acting plus musical score. Definitely worth it for any comic book fan.
Woah, definitely a game only to be played when you are on your own, with everyone fast asleep around you. Certainly not for the easily offended (and make no mistake, there is a lot of disturbing and gruesome scenery to be had), Dante’s Inferno is actually a very good and very polished (if a little God of War generic) hack and slash action adventure game, which tells a good story as you are pushed ever deeper into the Circles of Hell in order to free your beloved Beatrice from Lucifer’s icy grip.
Lots of button bashing, a nice little level up abilities and magic system, some simple puzzles, good cut scenes with decent voice acting, and some larger than life boss battles.
So thoroughly enjoyable in a blood-soaked hack and slash way, but certainly not easily recommended to anyone thanks to its setting and story.
Red Dead Redemption
Easily the best game I’ve played in quite some time, a thoroughly engrossing and engaging sandbox Western title from Rockstar, which will have you taking down bandits, breaking wild horses and hunting the local fauna until the cows come home.
Despite the fact that I think the game should have ended when you finally catch up to the main target that has been your mission right from the start, Red Dead Redemption has a fantastic story, backed by impressive voice acting plus musical score. Add to that a brilliantly realised open world ripe for exploration and interaction, this is definitely one of the best sandbox titles ever to be made!
Highly, highly recommended.
And now you know :)
Brother of comic-inker Rick Basaldua, American comic book artist Eric Basaldua (also known as Ebas) has been in the business for a while now, and is particularly well known for his very sexy depictions of female characters, which is probably why he remains such a go to guy for Zenescope when it comes to churning out their infamous scantily clad babe covers. He did however start his career at Top Cow studios, working directly for founder Marc Silvestri, and has since gone on to build up quite a bibliography of both interior and cover work. You can catch more of him at his deviant art page here.
Using a very muted color palette that seems to instantly elevate this piece of comic art to even loftier heights, this particular Ebas creation depicts Marvel’s premiere cat burglar, the Black Cat, in all of her skintight costumed glory!
Pick ‘n Pay is at it again with its awesome range of Marvel t-shirts and this week we a showcase a shirt depicting one of the classic Spider-man nemeses, The Green Goblin.
Although many have donned the mantle over the years, it all started with industrialist Norman Osborn whom ingested a serum that gave him enhanced physical abilities and intellect. However, a side-effect saw him driven completely insane, leading to him donning a halloween-themed goblin outfit and arming himself with a high-tech arsenal that included items like his feared pumpkin bombs and goblin glider. Responsible for some of the biggest tragedies in Peter Parker / Spider-man’s life, the Green Goblin is certainly not a man to be trifled with!
And as for the funky black t-shirt which I bought, well wonder no further, this is how it looks:
Related link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Goblin
You’ll note that I haven’t exactly been blogging at my usual sterling pace the last while. Actually, this is partly on purpose as I’m trying to throttle back on the time spent behind a computer monitor on my off hours and partly because I’ve spent the last couple of week nights singing lullabies to Chantelle in order to get her to fall asleep on the couch after supper so that I might fire up the XBOX 360 and load Spider-man: Web of Shadows, a fairly simplistic beat-em up sandbox style game, but a game that I’m nevertheless thoroughly enjoying playing through at the moment!
The gameplay is very similar to what came out of Ultimate Spider-man, but this time they’ve dropped the cartoony cell-shading approach and went for a more textured look which actually works quite well considering the darker storyline which this particular tale involves.
You play as both regular Red Spider-man and the more powered up Black Symbiote Spider-man, interchanging between the two at will and the click of a button. Although both have the same base move sets, the two are sufficiently different enough in terms of abilities to make it worthwhile spending time in both versions of the suit.
Of course, Treyarch’s brilliant web swinging gameplay is back (and tweaked a bit) and it is an absolute blast to swing effortlessly through the vast cityscape that is presented to you, swiftly swinging around corners, jumping on to buildings, running along walls and in fact it is this absolute freedom of movement that makes playing Spider-man: Web of Shadows so compelling.
As for the actual game action bits, well here it falls into the pretty standard fare for the superhero game genre, with you basically stumbling across various types of randomly spawned crime spots that appear on your map, featuring a selection of generic goons to polish off. Although there is a fair variety of goons to tackle throughout the game, the unfortunate generic nature of their costume sometimes makes it a drag at times – seriously, anyone thought of using a random clothes generator for the normal knock-about thugs yet? Anyone?
But of course, this isn’t all bad news because remember you have the ability to fight villains on the ground, in mid-air and of course on the side of buildings. Take into account the various abilities afforded to you as Spider-man, normal attack combos, aerial combos, web shots, car throwing, and web zip attacks, you have more than enough movesets in your arsenal to build up some really big and impressive combos!
The random crime hotspots is however a secondary part of the story as of course there is a linear story to be told and as you could have guessed thanks to the Black Symbiote Suit’s appearance, Venom and this symbiote play a rather big part in it. As you encounter a number of heroes and fulfill their various mission requirements (note, Wolverine is one of them!), you actually get to call on them to assist you on the ground once your special meter has been filled, meaning that at any time and depending on which path you choose, you might have Black Cat, Luke Cage, Moon Knight or even the Vulture beating down on thugs at your side.
And speaking of paths, at various points in the game you will be tasked with making a selection as to which action to take, the one leading your down a more villainous black path and the other down the more righteous red path. This leaning constantly changes during the game based on both your actions and choices and in the end, it is up to you just how you want to tackle the game, be it as the ultimate good guy or perhaps as a more darker, win-at-all costs kind of hero.
There are of course boss fights to be taken care of and these are all usually multi-staged fights, though you usually battle it out much as you would against a normal villain, though perhaps just using your block button a little more than normal. There are also a couple of quick time events to take care of at the end of a boss sequence, though thankfully they have been made pretty simple to get through and won’t leave you frustrated by randomizing the sequences at will!
The graphics are pretty solid, nothing too spectacular, getting the job done, though some of the character models like Kingpin up close isn’t exactly a good thing. The camera does sometimes get a little stuck thanks to the fluid movement you are allowed in terms of swinging through the sky, flipping onto a building and then diving to the ground all in a single heartbeat, and I’ll admit, the game has managed to crash on me once so far while playing it. (Thankfully though the autosave works pretty damn well!)
The voice work is a little B-grade at times and there are moment where the game comes across as well, a bit silly, but the general music makes up for it by complementing the action sequences perfectly, so I’m not going to harp on about it as a negative.
The story has a number of neat little surprises in store for you and as such I won’t say anything more to spoil it in case you are keen on picking up the game, but I do want to say that despite the generic and sometimes unpolished feel of the game at times, for fans of the comic book series this really is a fun little game to pick up.
Even if you do just spend half the time swinging around the vast city just for the hell of it! :)
(And as an extended note, I even managed to get Chantelle to swing about the city and beat up some bad guys on one of the nights I couldn’t serenade her to sleep… She’s a natural I tell you! :P)
I actually had a pretty decent weekend last weekend, despite the fact you can’t really look back at it and say, “wow, awesome, cool” or anything like that. As expected, Chantelle was back on full duty for the weekend and so Friday night saw me entertain myself, which pretty much meant some more 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa gaming action and the watching of a classic Hong Kong Jackie Chan piece, Crime Story. As of late I’ve been laying my paws on all Jackie Chan’s older stuff, and man am I enjoying his work. Proper pure adrenaline Hong Kong gun action, high drama and the occasional laugh or two, his body of work really does bring a huge smile to my face! :)
Saturday I got down to a whole lot of my private website work, tinkering with the blogs, sorting out some outstanding online issues, and of course tackling the housework, before Mr. Brown finally arrived at my doorstep and the day of geekery could finally begin.
Needless to say, with him having to write up a review of the game anyway, a lot of 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa was on the cards for the day and so we tackled the game on World Class and attempted to head for World Cup Glory. However, the higher difficulty setting really did get the better of us and at the end of a good couple of hours’ worth of game play, all we had to show for it was a lot of tension-induced sweaty palms and tears down our faces. We also slotted in a look at the Spider-man: Web of Shadows game I laid my hands on and did some co-op on Hellboy: The Science of Evil that Terrance and the boys gave me for my birthday.
We broke a bit as I organised supper on Chantelle’s request, cooking up a delicious batch of pancakes, before Chantelle joined us and the three of us got comfy as I slotted in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer for the night’s viewing!
Sunday and I was once again left to my own devices, meaning I managed to slot in plenty of Spider-man: Web of Shadows, comic book reading and some web tinkering once again, though I did take a break in the afternoon to catch Iron Man 2 at Ster Kinekor in Somerset Mall, all on my lonesome I might add.
The movie was perfectly okay, a standard enjoyable comic book movie, though I must say it didn’t really have the charm of the first movie and as such I walked out at the end feeling that this was probably a movie I could have easily skipped. That said, I was quite thrilled at the little Thor hint at the end of the credits! :)
Chantelle, tired and hungry after work (hey, she’s living for herself and jellybean at this moment), called in and asked that I meet her at Spur for supper and so under the care of the same waitress who forgot our starter last time we were there, enjoyed a great meal together in one another’s company.
And that was that as far as I can remember. In other words, nice! :)
Did I mention that all of a sudden all my t-shirts happen to feature Marvel superhero characters? I don’t know how this happened (clue: it was Christmas’ fault) but I do know that it is awesome – and I like it! :P
So in no particular order and because I want to share these awesome Marvel t-shirts garnered from the most unlikely of sources namely Pick ‘n Pay Clothing Store and Mr. Price here are the latest batch of shirts in my T-Shirt Geekery collection!