Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Holland’

Holland

Deadpool

Deadpool GameI managed to bang through Deadpool in a week. Not even a week of furious game-playing. Just an hour or two a night. Yes, it was on Easy, but then I wasn’t looking for a challenge, just some fun. It’s what I like about Activision’s Marvel games – they’re pretty straight-forward. You play a game with Wolverine in it, then Wolverine is going to run around stabbing dudes and yelling. Hell, it’s unlikely he’s even going to die all that much, assuming you put a lot of XP into his health bar.

Same with Deadpool – and that dude not only can heal and slice people, he can shoot them and teleport out of danger, too. So, that’s what you do. For, I guess, about 12 hours total. There is a more unconventional spot in the middle where Deadpool has to venture into a strange underworld to retrieve souls for Death, though surprisingly that still involves a lot of shooting dudes.

Ultimately, it’s on me for enjoying Batman: Arkham City, the Assassin’s Creed series and even last year’s open-world Amazing Spider-Man tie-in so much. I don’t need EVERY game to have expansive sets I can wander about and explore in (and buy new outfits in), but without that feature, it sure does feel like an unambitious game.

Lotta cursing in there, too. That was a surprise.

Best part of the game: Sinister’s imperfect exploding Gambit clones, who come at you in droves chanting “MON AMI! MON AMI! MON AMI!” before you blow them up.

Tomb Raider

Tomb RaiderMy first question when my friend lent me the rebooted Tomb Raider, as I looked at young, inexperienced Lara Croft on the cover and remembered those weird comments about keeping her safe from danger, was, “So do I have to worry about the threat of rape in this thing?”

“No…well, I mean one guy does get a little handsy, but that’s it.”

Relieved, I went home and started playing, until I realized I also should have asked, “Do I have to worry about getting mauled by wolves or crushed under a rock or stabbed in the neck?” Because the answer to that is, yes. Yes I did.

It’s not so disconcerting that they chose some pretty graphic, messed-up possible deaths, it’s that WOLVES ARE MAULING AN INEXPERIENCED, TERRIFIED GIRL. It’s startling, and you as a player feel guilty that you let it happen. In starting Lara Croft off at ground zero with virtually no resources, few skills and – this is the important thing here – living in a constant state of fear and exhaustion – it actually makes the player feel complicit every time you fail to get her out of danger (and again, I am not great at video games, so…this girl is going to be dying quite a lot, I’m afraid).

Which is a very strange motivator to get through the game – to reach a point where you/Lara are skilled enough to not, y’know, get stabbed in the neck with a booby trap. It’s like the GOB Bluth method of gaming: “Now once you can climb over that wall without getting punched in the stomach, you’ll have a lot more fun!”

Assassin’s Creed III

This game is so assured that you will like it that it makes you sit through 10 minutes of “The Story So Far…” explanations about a character nobody gives a shit about, and a conspiracy involving assassins, Templars, Roman Gods and the Apocalypse that is nearly impossible to make sense out of.

Pictured: A guy you do not play as for 2 hours.

Pictured: A guy you do not play as for 2 hours.

And then it sticks you on a boat for another 20 minutes.

And then once you finally get to Boston, just when you think you’re going to get some sustained combat going, it makes you reload a musket in real time.

And that’s when it dawns on you that you haven’t even been playing as the ostensible star of the game, the guy on the box in the white hood … you’re playing as his dad. For two straight hours.

What I am saying is that Assassin’s Creed is a series that is comfortable with everyone taking their time.

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Holland

Here’s the thing about Wolverine: It’s actually pretty hard to do an outright BAD story with him, because as a W - Millercharacter, he is remarkably easy to get a handle on.

A lot of writers get these weird anxiety attacks over how “hard” it is to write Superman, which is basically how things like Man of Steel happen. They cite the issue that a man who has as many abilities as he does, and is as steadfastly moral as Superman is, can beat any challenge (this is, by the way, a dumb notion, so if there’s a writer out there who’s in the midst of this dilemma, may I offer this starting point: Come up with a threat that can’t be ended by Superman putting his fist through it or hurling it into the sun, and work from there).

But while Wolverine has a few things in common with Superman – nigh-invulnerable, capable of outfighting just about anyone, and already the subject of thousands of stories, raising the question of what new can be said about the character – they’re never seen as story-hurdles because the core engine of Wolverine offers so much fertile ground. It’s been articulated a lot, and I’m pretty sure Braak wrote a piece to this effect a few years ago, but basically:

Wolverine is a living weapon that wants to be something better.

And if you can’t come up with a story that addresses that core idea…well, you’re probably also someone who thinks “Having too many powers” makes Superman an impossible nut to crack.

All of this is to say, there are a LOT of really good places to start if you’ve never read a Wolverine comic before.  (more…)

Holland

A few recent articles have pointed out that this year has been marked by a surprising number of big-budget commercial disappointments (After Earth, Lone Ranger, R.I.P.D., and Pacific Rim – which, BTW, the wife and I quite enjoyed), and how the smaller counter-programming films – even, god help us, Grown Ups Goddamn 2 – have been the quiet successes of the summer.

Moon KnightPretty much, if it didn’t feature Iron Man or Superman, it kind of thudded. People are slowly but surely getting bored at watching the same damn giant movie again and again and again, unless there’s a superhero involved somehow.

In the wake of the 2014-15 movie-promo fest that is Comic-Con these days, it got me realizing, in a few years, even having a superhero won’t help. My evidence for this? Me.

To gear up for The Wolverine, I popped in the first X-Men movie, which I haven’t watched in years. Aside from noting that there was a time when Hugh Jackman was simply very well-built, but not to the negative-2% body-fat, eating-whole-chickens-to-mainline-protein levels he gets to these days, I was mostly charmed by how…crappy it looks.

I mean, it’s fine, it’s not like the bricks are all made of Styrofoam or anything. But it’s clear the people paying for this movie felt like they were taking a huge risk, and were hedging their bets financially. Remember, other than Blade, which could be thrown into the “horror” genre category fairly easily, the last superhero movie at the time was Batman & Robin. THAT was the image in people’s minds when they thought “superhero movie.”

I also remember my blatant excitement that there was A superhero movie in theaters. ONE SINGLE MOVIE.  Simpler times, those times. (more…)

Holland

Hi, Battlestar Galactica robots, it’s me again.

HU-MAN NOISE GENERATOR, WELCOME

old-cylon-new-cylonOK, look, so, I’ve finished up season 2 now, and I feel a little stupid.

IT IS EXPECTED

…Dick. Anyway, remember during my write-up of season 1, where I made fun of your sekrit plan being “Get Boomer knocked up”?

YES, WE LAUGHED AT YOUR LACK OF FOREKNOWLEDGE.

Great.

OUR LAUGHTER IS DEEPLY UNPLEASANT!

Fine. Look, I didn’t realize your plan was actually dictated to you by your god.

OUR ONE GOD TOLD US TO HAVE BABIES, YES. NOW WHO FEELS LIKE THE BIGOT?  (more…)

Holland

So it’s been a few hours, and now I feel I can talk about Man of Steel without simply writing the word “Fuck” one thousand times.

Man of SteelBut guys…that is really the only rational feeling one can have at the end of that movie.

After my initial sense that the movie may not be spectacular, but would certainly be, y’know, Superman-esque, in a way that, say, letting another man raise his wheezing bastard child might not, I have to admit…this one may be worse.

Because as much as I can complain about how wrong-headed Superman Returns was, at the end of that movie, at least Smallville and Metropolis aren’t largely smoking, death-filled craters. Man of Steel can boast no such claims.

I’m going to start asking a lot of questions very shortly – which means I am going to tell you a lot of spoilers but that is because I GENUINELY THINK YOU SHOULD NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE, so trust me, I am ol’ Public Service Holland from here on out.

But first I suppose I should tell you all about the things I didn’t hate about this movie, in a brief list format:

  1. The casting – Honestly, everyone here does a bang-up job with what they’ve got, starting with Henry Cavill, whom I look forward to seeing in a good Superman movie, should one ever come about. Looking the part’s one thing, but he has that calm, assured voice when speaking to authority that sounds just right, and there’s that little smile he gives every now and again, works great. Amy Adams as Lois Lane was more plucky than flinty, but still, it worked. Laurence Fishburne, nice stuff. The Kents, okey-doke. Even all the secondaries are filled out with dependable character actors.
  2. Pa Kent – This was one of the more controversial choices called out early in the trailers, Jonathan Kent advising his son against saving people if it means revealing himself. And, in fact, allowing himself to die rather than have his son save him in front of a crowd. It’s hardly the inspirational Pa Kent we’ve come to expect, but it’s an interesting idea. Jonathan Kent as a guy who is himself totally upended by what Clark might mean to the world, and is just trying to get the kid to adulthood so he can figure that out, without scaring the shit out of everyone first. I can appreciate that interpretation. Not my PREFERRED idea of Pa Kent (in that this version is more like Uncle Ben, and Superman is not Spider-Man), but…sure, let’s try something new.
  3. The…action? In that I appreciate that there was some action, after that last movie was mostly about a guy who lifted heavy things? There’s punching, and I do like a Superman who punches and flies fast. So…hooray.
  4. Faora – OK, that woman was pretty rad. Not a lot to her, but of all the Kryptonian Murder People in this movie, I think I liked her most.
  5. The costume, I guess, works okay. At the end of the day, you don’t really give a shit about the trunks not being there, is what I’m saying.
  6. OK, that last line. “Welcome to The Planet, Clark.” That’s pretty good, even though it screams of “Line of dialogue David Goyer’s been sitting on for a dozen years now.”

AND NOW, SOME QUESTIONS:

1. Who the hell was in charge of this thing? I mean honestly? (more…)

Holland

So you’re walking out of Man of Steel, and you think to yourself, “Boy, I’d really like to read some actual Superman comics!” HAHAHA I’m kidding that almost never happens, no matter how much the comics Superman 1industry might hope to the contrary.

But if it DOES! I thought I’d take a moment to offer some Superman comics recommendations, but probably just as importantly, mention a few titles to steer clear of – particularly those a lot of other websites (like those fancy-dans over at Entertainment Weekly and what have you) might try to confuse you into thinking are good.

RECOMMENDED!

Superman: Birthright – Mark Waid’s “Superman Year One” story is heartfelt, insightful, and – as with most things Waid – action-packed and funny, too. I feel like it’s too easy for Superman comics to slip into The Importance Of Being Superman that it forgets comics about brightly-costumed do-gooders should probably be entertaining, too.  (more…)

Holland

ImageLook, I won’t lie: I came to DC’s new Superman comic, Superman Unchained (a title that really should be Superman Unchained! but then I am in charge of nothing) with a bit of dread.

On the one hand, Scott Snyder’s been doing astounding stuff on Batman, managing to craft these big, epic stories that still feel very personal, with plot points that matter beyond any initial shocks (seriously, go read volumes one and two, “Court of Owls” and “City of Owls“, for some of the best Batman comics produced in the last 20 years). Add to that his fantastic creator-owned series American Vampire, an honest-to-god fresh take on a tired-ass genre, and I can comfortably say the guy’s earned a fair bit of trust.

Then there’s Jim Lee on the art. And when Lee is on, he concocts some really exciting visuals and Platonic ideal levels of Superhero Art. He is also one of the only people who can draw Superman’s new costume as though all those extra lines make any kind of sense (they don’t, and the boots are stupid and the sleeve cuffs are too long and there’s not enough yellow and jesus what is with that hair? but the point is, Lee’s the guy who designed the stupid thing so he’d better be able to draw it well).

On the other hand…. (more…)