July 6, 2010


I am pleased to introduce this blog's official advisor on all things relating to comics. He is a fully accredited comic book historian, theorist, and artist. He goes by the name of Clarks Bent. Most four-year-old children can barely hold a crayon, let alone use it. They usually end up with more crayon in their mouth than they ever do on their paper. By the age of five, Mr. Bent was drawing impeccable, fully detailed comic book superheroes on the wall... in permanent ink.

He could see past the standard linear lines that confine most artists and instead draw from angles rarely used or seen in comics. While most teenagers his age were spending their free time sleeping in, taking naps, watching TV, and playing video games, Clarks was busy reading whatever comic book he could get his hands on, analyzing it, and drawing it. He has always had a natural ability to dissect and actually critique comic book and graphic novels in a way that was way beyond his years. From as early on as I can remember he was incessantly hounding me to read key, influential, classic graphic novels like Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, and Alan Moore’s Batman: The Killing Joke, and many others way before they were ever creating buzz. He is now in his early 30's and along with being a charter school principle he has recently received his masters degree and is currently working on a revised version of Superman Returns.

At the risk of being an immense inconvenience on his precious time I have asked for his cooperation on analyzing and reviewing a few fan films and he has graciously accepted. Over the next few weeks we will be evaluating a handful of quality made fan films, starting this week with the recently released Batman: City of Scars. Here is his official review:


Let me preface this movie review by saying that if you have a low-budget movie, which all fan films are, it is almost impossible to do anything but a drama or a comedy. Since Batman is not comedy material it has to be a drama. For the movie to be a good drama, the actor, the director, and screen writers need to deeply understand the nature of the characters and who they are. This film missed the mark on all of the major characters in the film.
The movie begins with Joker’s escape from Arkham Asylum, and as usual, the death or hospitalization of one of the nurses. Batman is generally well played, (exempting the scenes as Bruce Wayne). He has the physique of Batman and the costume is well done. His voice is a match, almost Kevin Conroy-esque. The fighting scenes are well done considering the obvious low budget. However, City of Scars suffers from too much flatulent narration from Batman: “The City is lucky I have never crossed that line because if I did I would take all of Gotham with me.” Are you kidding me? I would take all of Gotham with me? Wow, when did Batman become a narcissistic moron? If he would have just shut his mouth he would have turned in a notable performance.
Batman is the type of person who sits there and carefully observes his surroundings and the people around him. When he decides to speak, what he says is important. He would even never think, let alone say, the mindless garbage he was saying in the movie. He says what he wants to say in a few words as mathematically possible, he does not drone on and on about what he is thinking.

The great Knucklepop himself suggested that maybe they were trying to emulate the thought bubbles in the comics. My response: there are some things that simply don’t translate into film, and thought bubbles are at the top of that list. They either have to narrate, which is difficult to pull off in a comic book movie, (is there any good comic movie that narrates?), or they have to include it into dialogue. Dialogue is the best way for a comic movie.
The Joker, on the other hand, turns in a performance that cannot and will never be forgotten, it is that bad. There is a scene early in the movie, which is presumably meant to define the Joker’s character, that is nearly unwatchable. The Joker is in front of a mirror mumbling to himself as he loads his gun. The creators of this disaster simply do not understand the nature of the Joker’s character. The Joker is a cold-blooded psychotic killer, who only dresses like a clown. He is not a clown, nor is he the jackass the actor played him as.

The Joker wants to destroy any semblance of established order. If you will allow me to tell a little story from my own life to emphasize my point: When my parents were going through a divorce I was an angry little boy and I wanted to lash out at the world around me. I had an art teacher that I did not particularly care for. I decided to make her a B*tch of the year award certificate. I snuck over, and stealthily posted it on her door where all of her students could see. It was on her door for three quarters of the day before someone took it off. It was a huge hit, everyone was talking about it. The teacher saw it and totally lost it in front of the class. She threatened to destroy the person who did it. She started accusing the usual suspects, (most of who were jerks anyways), as they were the ones who were most likely to do it. They profusely denied any involvement, but they began trying to figure out who would have to brass balls large enough to do something like that. It was the greatest thing they had ever seen. Who could have pulled this off?
While all this was going on I sat back and watched. I watched as the teacher frantically accused people of my villanry, I watched as she flinched every time someone knocked on her door, I watched as the “Stoners” squirmed under the heat of her accusations, I watched as they tried to figure out who is was, I watched as the teacher lost all credibility with the class and the class came apart. All I could do was watch and smile. Four years later my sister couldn’t figure out why her art teacher hated her so bad. “Sorry Sis.”
I did not give her a certificate because I wanted the credit for such cunning, but I did it because I wanted to create anarchy. I wanted to watch everything fall apart and smile as the world fell down around me. That is how the Joker views his world. He doesn’t want credit, he just wants to watch the world burn, and as your neighborhood pyro can tell you, that is why he laughs.

To see the “Clown Prince of Crime” reduced to mere comic relief made me sick. That being said, his costume and makeup were well done. He looked like the Joker in the Alex Ross art. His laugh was right on the mark. However, his dialogue was so overplayed, that it ruined his whole character. In the end, he suffers more from severe overacting and ignorance of the Joker’s nature than the fatal bullet wound delivered during the movie’s climax.

On a large scale, the movie was tolerable. It attempts to reach Batman dramatically by forcing him to relive his childhood but it is just that: forced. The dialogue and narration are detrimental to the movie as a whole and makes the movie nearly unwatchable. The movie does have some good scenes involving minor villains like Scarface and Victor Zsasz, who both turn in a very good performance. The Scarface dummy was really well done, both the doll and voice acting.
I give this movie a C-. It reminds me of one of my students who was asked to do a paper on Jefferson Davis and turned it in without including anything about his being President of the Confederate States of America. - Clarks Bent

July 5, 2010


So You Think You Can Dance has inspired another Mount Rushmore list, this time featuring the very best of the very worst music videos that involve dancing. As a young boy that grew up in the 80's I've seen more than my fair share of bad music videos. Even worse, I've seen just as many terrible dance themed music videos. So since bad dance music videos deserves their own separate list, I give you "The Mt. Rushmore of Bad Dance Music Videos" list:

It is never a good sign when a six-year-old kid comments to his siblings on how horrible the dancing in this music video is... The year was 1986 and I was that poor unfortunate six-year-old kid. After suffering through this video again, I have a few questions. I know this was made for Live Aid to raise money for Africa, but I have to know: Whose idea was it to make this music video?! As a connoisseur of music, I refuse to believe David Bowie or Mick Jagger had anything to do with it. It seems more reasonable to think they were both forced against their will at knife point by Bob Geldof & the needy children of Africa. I love the fact that Mick Jagger felt okay about taking a drink of soda pop (1:33) with cameras rolling mid video shoot while Ethiopian children everywhere were starving. It also leads me to ask: Was this video shot in one take? Well, one take or not, if you are anything like me, you'll find yourself watching this music video and repeatedly catch yourself saying, "The tension is killing me, kiss already!" The personal space barrier is breached pretty early and often in this video, so it begs the question: How long into filming was it before they accidentally had sex?
I still can't believe such a video exists. Arguably two of the most influential musicians of all time got together and this of all things was the outcome?! This would have been a career killer for almost any other music icons. The 80's had the same effect as crack cocaine: no matter the celebrity or musician, no one was safe; it nearly destroyed anything it touched.
So If a video was shot in a London dockland and 25 years later is nearly forgotten about, does it still exist?

Some guys have all the luck and some guys should stick to singing. This video is a perfect example that it is never a good idea to do your own choreography, especially if you are Scottish and can't dance to begin with. Why, may I ask, is he wearing bright red, attention grabbing shoes? As if the dancing in this music video wasn't painfully unavoidable enough already, someone on set had to know within the first few minutes that this was going to be a colossally bad idea. After watching the on-set playback of this video in the making, even Rod must have known it wasn't a good idea pass on his genetic code. The "dancing" in this video is so stiff and uncoordinated that Rod Stewart makes Ronald Miller aka Dr. McDreamy look like Fred Astaire. On that note, if I never see this music video again it will be too soon.

If this is your first time seeing this video I apologize on behalf of myself and Billy Squire. I think I will keep all of my many thoughts to myself on this one, the pink satin tank top speaks for itself.

Pure visual ipecac. Wearing an Eskimo suit and jumping with Aborigines?! Seriously?! How did Green Screen Technology ever survive this hijacking? Do German's still love David Hasselhoff? The guy has a hard enough time eating a hamburger. How was it ever a good idea to have him no-hand-standing a motorcycle, let alone letting "The Hoff" get in front of a green screen?


When it comes down to it there just isn't enough dancing in this video to justify putting it on the list.


This music video should be used as the blueprint for all future dance videos. It has to rank up there with "Thriller" as one of the greatest dance music videos of all time.

"You're talking to me all wrong... It's the wrong tone. You do it again and I'll stab you in the face with a soldering iron. Hey, tell me, does your mother sew? BOOM. Get her to sew that!"

July 2, 2010


Why are the wives of America so insistent on destroying their precious husband's health and will to live week after week? It seems like the ultimate oxymoron: they get baby hungry and constantly want more children, yet they turn a blind eye to the well documented fact that the Mayo Clinic lists the viewing of So You Think You Can Dance as the number one offender on the list of things that will make you sterile.
So thanks to my dear, sweet, loving, selfless wife I am now on fertility medication and have to endure the constant bombardment of So You Think You Can Dance to my home television, sacred DVR space, sanity, and most importantly, my soul. So after nearly being driven to the bottle, I am fighting back in the only way I know how. I have been stockpiling quotes and will be adding a weekly "So You Wish You Were Dead Quote of The Week" section to my blog. Here is this weeks quote:

"This dance is crazy, crazy, fast. It's about two mystical creatures who one moment in a year become human and rejoice!"

July 1, 2010


In a genre that has become chalk-full of laughably bad, second-rate, worthless, generic films, finding a quality horror movie is extremely difficult to come by. In fact, even finding a simple, run-of-the-mill, average horror film is becoming just as equally hard to find; but if you've got a dollar to your name, a Redbox location nearby, and an itch for the ordinary, then I've got just the mediocre horror movie for you.
The Crazies is a remake of the 1973 film of the same name about a small farm town in Iowa trapped between the outbreak of homicidal lunacy and military madness. The film doesn't seem consciously set out to buck the common themes and trends of typical horror movies, but it doesn't necessarily subscribe to them either. The film wisely opens with one of the most haunting and enthralling scenes in the entire movie. As a sign of things to come, a "Crazy" interrupts a children's little league baseball game by wandering into the outfield armed with a rifle. Things progressively get worse as the outbreak continues. The plot is as simplistic and basic as you will find, even for horror movie standards, but it is executed in a way that still manages to keep you entertained.
Timothy Olyphant (HBO's Deadwood, Live Free or Die Hard) plays Sheriff David Dutton, a man shouldering the large burden of protecting his town, family, and friends, all while trying to solve and make sense of the recent pandemonium. With only his wife and deputy Russell as allies, they do all they can to survive the chase as they set out to find refuge in a not-so-nearby major city. The action is often and though the movie does stoop to using a few "cheap scares," it is by no means overloaded. As is the case with most horror films, the "F word" is forced into the dialogue every couple of scenes to the point of overkill, and the film could have benefited from more character development and backstories.
Overall you get what you pay for with The Crazies: it's an average, well shot, low budget, mindless, horror film. C-

The Crazies is rated R for blood, violence, and language.