Monday, January 30, 2012

The 2012 NHL All-Star Game...*Yawn*

Ah yes, it’s that time of year during the NHL season. The annual NHL All-Star Game, this year held in Ottawa and featuring a slew of the NHL’s biggest names and faces. Well, the biggest names and faces that isn’t Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin anyway. Granted they had legitimate excuses, i.e. Crosby has a broken neck and a concussion (slight exaggeration) and Ovechkin is just being a douche bag, but other than that this year was the same old, same old.

This year also marked the second year in a row the “draft” system was used to select the player representatives of the opposing team. Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson led his team, while Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara led his, and a slew of players ranging from Evgeni Malkin, Corey Perry, the Sedin twins, Marian Gaborik, Phil Kessel, and more besides all joined in the festivities. There was the draft, there was the skills competition, and then there was the actual All-Star game itself.

In a nutshell, it was the same old shit.

Now I actually enjoy All-Star weekend for the most part, and this year was definitely better than last year’s affair for one solid reason: the NHL killed that ridiculous and just plain fucking retarded “Guardian Project” from last year that was the brain child of Stan Lee and an orangutan on angeldust. I’m not even kidding when I say that giving up on that abortion of an idea may have very well saved the All-Star game. I couldn’t imagine much of anyone, and I mean ANYONE, getting any kind of enjoyment out of that whole fiasco. Even small kids would have looked at that mess and said to themselves “what the fuck is this bullshit all about?”

But enough of my ranting, and on to the game itself. It was the typical All-Star game fare, with Chara’s team prevailing in the end and New York Rangers forward Marian Gaborik winning the game’s MVP award. At this point in my life as an NHL fan though, the All-Star game itself now comes off as being little more than the corporate handshaking, masturbatory event that every sports league presents every year. It just seemed more to be this time than ever before that the players themselves just didn’t give a shit for the most part. Granted we knew that veterans and future Hall of Famers Nicklas Lidstrom and Teemu Selanne requested to not be included prior to the selection process, and Ovechkin opted out citing his current suspension as the reason why he shouldn’t have to participate, but for some reason, this year just seemed to be different.

Although, we did learn a few things this time around. We learned that no matter what, getting picked last for anything is humiliating and makes for great media ribbing (Logan Couture went dead last this year after Phil Kessel was Mr. Irrelevant last year) while also awards said dead-last picked player with a new car (which the NHL provides because League execs feel bad about it apparently). We learned that singer/rapper/I don’t give a shit what he is Drake should never be allowed near a hockey rink. We also learned that Dion Phaneuf doesn’t have a vagina (possibly) and Flyers forward Scott Hartnell isn’t such a prick after all…but he’s still a ginger.

All things considered, this year’s All-Star Game was sort of fun in a way, but here’s hoping that the suits in the NHL office come up with some new ways to spice things up further down the road.

And when I say further down the road, I mean next fucking year.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Why You Should See the "Ghost Rider" Sequel...No Matter How Bad It Is

Oh dear sweet lord, he’s back again…

Nicolas Cage returns as Johnny Blaze in “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance”, a sequel to the 2007 film adaptation of the cult classic Marvel comic character…and sadly there’s nothing we can do about it.

First of all, let me start by saying that as a character, Ghost Rider hasn’t really had that great a track record. Since the debut of the Blaze character in the 70s, he’s had his share of bumbling writers and creative teams that managed to frequently put the character into one convoluted mess time and time again. The only reason that Ghost Rider managed to stay somewhat popular over the years is the fact that he’s, to put it bluntly, a cool-looking character. I mean come on, what’s not to dig about a guy who sold his soul to the devil and has a flaming skull for a head and a motorcycle from Hell?

Anyway, with all that in mind, seeing a big-screen film adaptation featuring a character with such a checkered and convoluted history was far from a sure thing, let alone with Nicolas “I’m bat-shit crazy” Cage in the role…yet in 2007; the film was a surprisingly big hit. A big hit yes, but what rhymes with hit folks? That’s right, shit. And that’s what the Ghost Rider movie wound up being: a big flaming pile of shit.

Now here we are five years later, with Cage back in the role and the directing duo of Neveldine/Taylor (“Crank”, “Gamer”) behind the camera. With that pair, you’d figure that we’d get a ridiculously over-the-top action feast for the eyes that defies all logic and winds up being gleefully fun and violent. Well, from what early screenings are suggesting, that’s not what we’re going to get folks…

…we may get something worse this time around compared to last time, and that may be something of an accomplishment in itself.

Now I’m all for over-the-top genre flicks that revel in their badness, and while the idea of seeing the chain-wielding demonic biker taking a flame-fueled piss on the big-screen is kind of enticing to a degree, you can’t think that this flick won’t be anything BUT bad. Still, I’m predicting that “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” is so extreme in its bad-itude that it automatically becomes worth seeing at least once just in an attempt to digest how horrible it is. Hell, a couple years down the line there may be a drinking game based on it; yes folks, it could indeed be THAT bad.

Now I’m writing this blog on the sure-to-be-shitty Ghost Rider sequel just based on the fact that the character does an endearing place in my heart as a comic book geek, but I’m also choosing to write this based on the fact that we could all be about to bear witness to the most gleefully bad comic book movie since “Batman & Robin”…so in a way, we’re all about to be witnesses to history.

Really bad history.

REALLY REALLY bad history…the kind that deserves a commentary by the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

We Don't Need Any Watchmen Sequels...Ever

Back in 1985-1986, shit in comic books got serious.

Totally fucking serious.

I’m talking about Alan Moore and David Gibbons’ landmark classic “Watchmen”, which would go on to become a game-changing masterpiece that would be revered for decades to come. All these years later, a shit load of recognition and praise, and even a much-maligned big-screen adaptation (that was better than it rightfully should have been) and it appears that the story of “Watchmen” isn’t quite over yet…ya know, because DC Comics still wants to make as much money off of it as they can.

Now I always thought Marvel was the comic company that knew how to milk and whore out their properties for all their worth, but in this case, DC is going above and beyond by planning to release prequel and sequel comic series to the legendary original. Artist Dave Gibbons is believed to be involved in all this to some capacity, but unsurprisingly Alan Moore is not. The much-revered writer and his long-disastrous relationship with DC led him to not wanting to be involved in any re-packaging of his old work for the publisher, as well as not wanting his name listed in the credits for any film adaptation of his comics, which has included “Watchmen”, “V For Vendetta”, and more besides.

Now, here’s what I have to say about these prequel and sequel comics to my beloved “Watchmen”…


The story was so perfect and unlike anything to ever come before it that it practically helped revolutionize the whole medium. It showed an alternate reality 1985 where superheroes existed…and the world wasn’t any better for it. Ticking ever closer to a worldwide nuclear holocaust, Alan Moore presented a startlingly realistic superhero story that worked as both a commentary on Cold War politics as well as comic books themselves. It made such a prolific impact on the medium and garnered so much critical acclaim that many wondered if anything else could ever come close to touching the brilliance of “Watchmen”.

Now, in 2012, almost 30 years after “Watchmen” originally hit the presses, we’re getting needless prequels and sequels to the story…needless and pointless. The talent allegedly involved with the project, which supposedly includes the wonderful writer/artist Darwyn Cooke, artist Amanda Connor, and other big names being thrown around including Brian Azzarello, J.G. Jones, J. Michael Straczynski, Adam and Andy Kubert, Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Shane Davis, and even Grant Morrison (!) almost makes me want to check out this money-grabbing project because part of me is quite curious what all these creative minds could come up with working in the “Watchmen” universe…while the fanboy in me is instead shitting my pants in nerd-rage.

“Watchmen” is a brilliant, stand-alone story. It set the standard for adult storytelling in the comic book medium, and to this very day remains so revered and beloved that it’s actually kind of hard to put it all into words. While there probably is an intriguing backstory and lots of history to be revealed, as well as the fact that the comic’s ending definitely has plenty of openings for a follow-up, any other work going on with anything new that’s “Watchmen”-related should only rightfully be done either by both Moore and Gibbons, or at least with both creator’s guiding hands at the forefront. Neither is going to happen here, that much is known, which is all the more reason why DC should just leave “Watchmen” the fuck alone. We don’t need prequels or a sequel, the story is perfect as it is and has been since it was published in the mid-80s. Creating a prequel/sequel just wouldn’t have the same effect, especially without any input from Moore. To sum it all up, any new “Watchmen” material is just plain old bullshit.

As much as I’d take DC over Marvel (“New 52” regardless), this is one of those rare times where I’m actually giving them a big old middle finger. We don’t need any kind of follow-ups to “Watchmen”, and we never, ever fucking will either. Some things should be left the fuck alone…and this is definitely one of them.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Grading the 2012 Winter Classic

As a hockey fan, this year’s Winter Classic was a resounding success.

As a Flyers fan well…that’s a different story.

Despite all that though, the Winter Classic once again proved to be supremely entertaining, and every bit as enjoyable as the previous Winter Classic’s had been since debuting in 2008. We got it all: a nasty divisional rivalry, players knocking the ever-loving shit out of each other, and someone pretty much giving the finger to the opposing team (in this case, it was Mike Rupp scoring his first of two goals and doing a Jaromir Jagr-like salute, much to the dismay of Scott Hartnell who wanted to knock his head off).

All that being said, this year’s affair was also better presented than it was last year. Last year’s match between the Penguins and Capitals suffered from some shitty aerial camerawork and camera angles during gameplay that NBC thought was hip, and thankfully this time around, none of that happened. Instead, we got a whole shit-ton of replays. Now I don’t mind seeing a replay from a few different angles, but holy mother of fuck do we really need to see it six fucking times? No, we don’t. We get the point after the first couple. Unless it’s a replay of a questionable goal, we don’t need to see the same thing over and over again, no matter how many angles of it there are.

Flaws aside though, the game’s presentation was great. That, mixed with the accidental swearing that made the air (including Mike Milbury accidentally referring to the Rangers as the “Broadway Blueshits” instead of the Broadway Blueshirts, and the number of F-bombs from players picked up by audio on the ice) made for quite the entertaining afternoon. All we would have needed on top of all that was a good amount of snow fall to seal the deal, but alas, all we got were a few flurries.

It should also be noted that this year’s rendition of HBO’s 24/7 hasn’t been nearly as entertaining as last year’s, but I’ll be damned if Flyers goalie/salary cap albatross Ilya Bryzgalov hasn’t been an ass load of unintentional hilarity. From his musings of the universe to comparing his husky to a “hot girl”, he himself is the kind of character the Flyers roster needed…just not at 9 years and 51 million dollars worth (and gutting half your roster for either). Too bad the Flyers didn’t play him…or maybe it isn’t, then the game probably wouldn’t have been as close as it was.

Also, it goes without saying for me, but as someone growing up in the 90s with Flyers hockey, seeing Eric Lindros pass the puck to John LeClair for a goal during the Alumni Game on Saturday was a nostalgic blast. That event, plus the Winter Classic itself, is what makes the whole damn affair so special for hockey fans.

Now all we need to do is get rid of Pierre McGuire and all will be right with the world.