Category Archives: Reviews

kmiTV on YouTUBE

Hi All!

Going forward we will be spreading out our content across multiple YouTube channels. This will make it easier for us to focus on series rather than just randomly posting on one channel. I’ll break it down below.

KMI_TV:

We’ll be focusing on original series. One being #letsCHECKitOUT

 

thisiskmiTV:

This will be for event coverage and interviews.

 

kmiTVbSIDE:

This will be a homage to our old videos. We’ll have our old archive here at some point but also the occasional surprise ūüėČ

https://www.youtube.com/user/kmiTVbSIDE

Gilifilms:

This is my channel for features, short docs, art pieces, music videos etc.

 

Dad Playtime:

This is Mike’s channel he does with his sons. They play video games, do toy reviews and much more!

 

Subscribe to all our channels! New videos coming soon. We’ll be posting more content to the blog as well. Enjoy your weekend!

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The Wolverine The Review

the-wolverine-wallpaperWhen first watching “The Wolverine,” all I could do was compare it to “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” It just had to be better than that mess. That wasn’t too difficult to do. However, once I started to let the second Wolverine movie stand on its own, I realized it didn’t little more past that initial goal.

The film has Logan going to Japan so that a dying man whom Logan saved in World War II can say a proper good bye before passing. As a thank you for saving him all those year’s ago, the man offers Logan, who does not age thanks to his healing ability, a chance to be mortal. Of course nothing can ever be that simple, and throughout the movie we see everyone’s true intentions and how they all collide with each other.

Here is the main way this movie surpasses Origins. Where Wolverine’s first solo effort was heavily tied to the other X-Men movies, this one essentially stands on its own. Jean Grey does have a significant role, but she mostly acts as a vehicle for Wolvie’s inner thoughts and you are brought up to speed easily enough. Through Jean, we see how Logan has had enough of the life he has led killing and watching his loved ones die while he doesn’t age. It’s the killing part however that is my first gripe with the film, and all the movies Wolverine has been in the more I think about it.

Wolverine is most notable for being a ferocious killing machine who goes into berserker rage. While that behavior is certainly referenced, we never actually see it. At no point does he ever lose control of his actions and really let loose. Instead he just fights everyone in a controlled fashion. He should be acting like an animal on the loose. He doesn’t even really take advantage of the fact that he has razor sharp claws coming out of his hands. Sure there are some stabs, but he fights more like Batman than a wild animal. Overall, the fight scenes are just a bit tame. Yes, the bullet train scene was cool, but there just weren’t many moments that got a big reaction from the audience.

My other gripe is the way they handled Logan losing his healing ability. I had a small issue with how it was taken instead of him choosing to have it removed, but the effects of it are what really bothered me. It could have been played as a big dramatic moment for him. Sustaining real pain that doesn’t go away for the first time. Just popping out his claws the first time without a healing factor could have made him scream. Instead he just gets a little dizzy from wounds and has a limp for a while. Then when he does have his healing factor, it is basically just seen healing cuts that he gets on his face so that enemies can look freaked out when they realize they can’t hurt him. It all just comes off as playing it too safe.

Just once during the movie I would have liked to see Wolverine get his face blown off and see a gruesome shot of his skull or guts exposed, or seeing any other character bleed or lose a limb. It doesn’t have to be an entire movie and blood and guts, but to at least introduce how far Wolverine and his abilities can go would go a long way toward giving us Logan we know and love. Instead, the worst that happens to Wolverine is losing his hair in an explosion, and a guy gets stabbed in the neck with no blood in sight. Would it have really been so horrible to have an explosion take some of the skin of his face to regenerate, and for a couple of guys to have their legs chopped off in battle?

The rest of the positives all come with negatives of their own. Thankfully, The Wolverine does not try to throw a ton of X-Men characters at you like Origins did, however by the end of the movie all of those characters get exposed for their character flaws. Viper is initially believable as a biochemist to go with her powers, but then she also knows ninjitsu? The other supporting characters seem to swap sides on a dime, and seriously does everyone have to be a trained ninja? I also liked having the bulk of the movie take place in Japan to separate it from the other X-films and provide a fresh setting true to the comics, but despite being on location, it was a very Americanized interpretation. More Rush Hour than Kill Bill. The more I think about it, that could some up my entire opinion of the movie.

Hugh Jackman is of course great as Wolverine. He could probably do this in his sleep by now but he keeps bringing the attitude and look you want from Logan. He just isn’t required to do enough with it here. The rest of the cast is fine, excluding Rila Fukushima who stands out as Yukio, Logan’s sidekick.

I didn’t hate The Wolverine by any means. I just didn’t like it very much. It existed. It was better than X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It just wasn’t more than that.

Stay for the post credit scene though. It makes the whole movie worth going to.

Man Of Steel Review

man_of_steel_dc_comics_superhero-wideWith the Dark Knight trilogy over, the disasters that were Green Lantern and Superman Returns, and the desire for Warner Bros. to get a Justice League movie off the ground, to say that there is a lot of pressure on Man of Steel is a bit of an understatement. Fortunately for the WB, Man of Steel rights all of the wrongs of the last Superman movie, and creates a world worth building around for future installments.

The first thing I noticed while watching the movie is how good it looks. From Krypton to Metropolis it is a very beautiful film. Colors are vibrant and is it just shot well. In some parts I was reminded of Thor’s design, but it adds a depth that is all its own. I would not recommend the 3D version though, as it seemed to have very little impact or immersion.

More than any Superman movie before it, Man of Steel is a true origin story of not only Superman, but Clark Kent as well. Using flashbacks throughout the first half of the film, we see how Clark made his way to the Kent house in Kansas, the scrutiny and hardships he went through while discovering and learning to control his powers, and deciding the type of man he wants to become.

That last part is especially key, as Superman is constantly faced with moral choices from his Earth dad, his Kryptonian dad, his enemies and the world around him. The way he comes to these decisions gives us a clear vision into not just what makes Superman so good and pure, but how he got this mind state in the first place. In this way, Man of Steel is more about Clark than it is about Superman.

Russell Crowe is very good as Superman’s biological father from Krypton, Jor-El. He urges Superman to be something great, and is believable in everything that he says,which isn’t easy considering some of the plot points he has to deliver, and makes you care for people you know are doomed. The opening of the movie could have been a movie on it’s own (hello prequel!) as we see what makes Superman (Cal-El) so special in a Krypton that we get to see (albeit briefly) as a vibrant world that is on the way to self destruction. There are a couple of scenes where Jor-El overstays his welcome, being extremely important to the plot even after his death, but he does push things along. He is critical in grounding this movie in any sort of believability. Meanwhile, Kevin Costner is practically typecast as the farmer Jonathan Kent, who wants to protect Clark from the world by having him hide his powers. The way both Jonathan and Jor-El affect who Clark is with similar yet totally different ideals is very interesting, despite Costner’s presence being much less felt than Crowe’s.

At the heart of the conflict is General Zod. Zod leads an army of banished Kryptonians to earth in order to find Superman and used him (dead or alive) to help save the Kryptonian species by destroying and recreating Earth as the new Krypton. Zod is well represented by Michael Shannon, who gives us a Zod that can be related to in some aspects. He’s not just out to kill Superman. Instead he is looking to save his people’s existence in the only way he knows how. This makes his dialogue with Superman even more compelling as Supes is forced to choose between the planet he’s from and the planet he’s lives on (it reminds me of the Transformers episode “The Ultimate Doom” where Optimus Prime has to choose between Earth and Cybertron). The confrontations between Superman and Zod bring all of the movie’s themes to the forefront.

Speaking of confrontations, remember how Superman Returns has no real enemy for Superman to face? Well forget that. Man of Steel knew it had to make a big impact and it did, taking perhaps the most famous formidable enemies that can physically challenge Superman and created some fantastic fight scenes and other action sequences. A fight against a couple of Zod’s top soldiers was specifically entertaining, while the final fight between Superman and Zod ended things with a flourish, ending in a way I definitely did not expect, showing once and for all how far Superman is willing to go in order to save lives.

With most of the supporting cast out of the way, I’ll bring up now the fact that Henry Cavill is a pretty damn convincing Superman. He certainly looks the part physically, and while he’s is all action for the fight scenes, he also shows a gentle nature that is just as big of a part of Superman’s character as flying is. His emotional vulnerability is on display as he travels the country tying to help people the best way he feels he can, hiding in obscurity whenever his deeds are noticed by too many. He is truly a Superman in training.

On the other end of the spectrum is Lois Lane, which I feel Amy Adam’s just wasn’t right for. She plays Lois tough, but somehow she comes off as too sweet to me. She is just missing a certain edge. I did however appreciate the liberties taken with Lois trying to find this mystery hero, instead of Clark just starting at the Daily Planet for no reason. No complaints from the rest of the cast, as Lawrence Fishburn (Perry White) and Rebecca Buller (Jenny, yes JENNY Olsen) are mostly just window dressing but do provide a human element that is needed when watching alien gods duke it out.

I do have a few issues with the story. Lois and Superman’s eventual relationship got going a little too quickly for my taste. The plan to save the world seems a little corny and it was pretty heavy for a Superman movie. A little more levity could have gone a long way. I’m also curious how Clark was able to keep faking his resume to get jobs under false names. Also, this movie was so big that I worry about leaving little room for sequels. Metropolis has already been torn apart once so doing it again wouldn’t be as menacing. If it is indeed Lex Luthor in the opposing corner, it could be a more psychological move that this one (just spitballing). This is nitpicking though in what is easily the best Superman movie in over 30 years. It had action, drama, character development, and just enough easter eggs to satisfy nerds and give us an essence of what could be on the way if they continue with this series (which I fully expect).

By the way, I’ll save you the trouble and let you know now that there is no post credits scene.

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Review

In 2010, High Moon Studios produced the best Transformers game ever made with War for Cybertron. Two years later, they’ve done it again with Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. Granted, the bar was never set very high to begin with, but that doesn’t mean Fall of Cybertron (FoC) isn’t a good game.

The biggest difference between the two is in the campaign mode. Gone is the team based shooting where you pick one of three autobots or decepticons. In its place you get levels focused around one specific Transformer, and his special abilities. Jazz and his grappling hook, for example. This comes at the cost of multiplayer in the campaign, but the lack of a team based campaign makes for more scripted and dramatic gameplay. All of the characters weaved in to a solid story that incorporates the entire universe. More set pieces, more action, more more more! The story also does a good job transitioning from level to level. Where the previous game had a more defined end to each level, FoC seamlessly takes you from one adventure to another. I had to specifically decide to stop playing, not just turn it off when they told me I was done with a level.

The story does take certain liberties with the source material, especially after War for Cybertron wrapped things up so well in taking us to the start of the G1 cartoon. However if you want to fit Grimlock or Bruticus into the story, two great characters to play as, you have to take some leaps. Also as far as the campaign goes, while it is technically not split into two campaigns, the middle of the game is mostly decepticons while the autobots make up the bookends. So yeah, it’s split into two campaigns.

Underrated

Multiplayer is still fun, escalation and all of the other modes are done well enough. The creation however got a big upgrade. War for Cybertron gave you models of all of the playable Transformers and let you change their colors. Now you can individually change heads, legs, arms and torsos, which also decide what you turn into. There is also a much greater color palate to choose from. I’m not a big multiplayer guy, but I love creating things and this gives me the opportunity to create all I want, once I unlock all of the items of course. Don’t worry, following trends you can just buy items straight up for cash.

It’s a good looking game but there are some issues. The sound jumped in and out on me occasionally during my play through, and the engine stutters a little when too much is going on. This could be fixed with future updates but right now it’s a little annoying. Nothing game breaking though. Aside from that, Cybertron is a much more colorful world. Like I mentioned in my first preview for the game (here) the environments are more varied in FoC. The sun is bright and the ships are as well. There are different textures and colors and it makes the game pop without losing the rusty feel of a metallic planet. It is a very large world and it finally plays like it as well.

Despite all of the positives I have, the one thought I came away with was that I’m not sure if I would have bought this if it wasn’t a Transformers game. Mostly it’s a third person shooter with a Transformers skin. That’s great but I’m not all about shooters. I’m more of the Arkham City, Assassins Creed kind of guy. The transforming is good and that’s what I came for but once I play I barely use it. My shooter mentality kicks in and I stick to cover and strafing to get the job done, and for the most part it totally works. Some of the added technology is cool (gravity bomb FTW) but I feel like most of the times I actually transformed it was by accident since it is done by pushing the L3 button.¬†However despite all of that, I do love Transformers so I had to buy this game immediately to get the experience, and for me getting the story and playing as my favorite characters was well worth the investment.

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is a love letter to Transformers fans, and is a good game that has done the best and the most with the Transformers license than any game before it. It just hasn’t gotten it 100% right yet. If you are a Transformers fan like me, then you have no reason not to buy this game. It’s everything you love about Transformers in the form of a good third person shooter. However if you wouldn’t know the matrix of leadership if it was sticking out of your chest, there are better shooters right now and this might not be the ideal game for you.

“The Dark Knight Rises” Review

Christopher Nolan’s epic Batman trilogy comes to a close with The Dark Knight Rises, and while it may not surpass the masterpiece that was The Dark Knight, it is still a pretty fantastic movie and a fitting end to a memorable saga.

Set eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, Gotham is enjoying a state of peace due to the Dent Act as we find Bruce Wayne staying out of the public eye, retired as Batman and watching Wayne Industries endure money struggles. All of this begins to change of course as Bane comes in to restore his brand of order to Gotham, as well as break the Batman in both body and soul.

It’s that last part that sets the movie apart. Where Joker and Scarecrow and Two Face either wanted to kill Batman or drive him crazy, Bane is out to break his spirit. He is Batman’s physical superior and can not be taken down with any of the old tricks we’ve seen. At the same time he is cold and ruthless and most importantly smart, making Batman seem as weak as he has ever looked before. We get a very desperate Batman. Tom Hardy does a fantastic job making Bane every bit the badass he is supposed to be (once they fixed the voice issue) and makes it believable and emotional watching him strip Bruce Wayne of everything he knows and loves, which is where the “Rise” part of the movie kicks in. It is the theme of the movie and is taken both literally and figuratively, as each character has their own demons and challenges the must rise above. They lay this theme on very thick. Almost too much so.

Better than Batman and Robin

In this age of cinema you can’t increase the stakes and the scope (and the budget) without ¬†increasing the number of characters too, and Nolan obliges with a number of additional characters. At the forefront is Anne Hathaway’s Selina Kyle, who is never referred to as Catwoman (good move), and does well in playing the anti-hero. She has good chemistry with Bale and is played very close to the Year One version of the character. Her acrobatics are sometimes a little too flashy and once you start getting her, Batman and Bane on screen at the same time it’s starts to get very comic book-ey. Not to ruin the final act for you, but it’s kind of like this. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does counter what Nolan had been working toward this whole time by grounding Batman into reality. This also applies to the heavily promoted “Bat” flying vehicle which, while it is awesome to see in action, takes reality to the limits.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard also do well as John Blake and Miranda Tate respectively, but the talk about their roles was never about how they would perform, but who they’re characters were supposed to be. ***SPOILER ALERT: To put it mildly all of the rumors we heard about them and the how the movie ends turn out to be true and if you know they are coming you see it from a mile away. However they wait as long as possible to actually confirm everything and do it in such a way that it doesn’t really matter that you know in the first place. A great job in dealing with such a difficult task.***

Make no mistake about it, this is definitely the end of the Bale/Nolan Batman saga and they tie a nice and neat bow on everything to make sure there is nowhere else to take it. Everything that is promised through the trailers and throughout the movie is delivered and done so in spectacular fashion. The movie takes the trilogy full circle, taking you through very similar progressions and set pieces as Batman Begins. The difference is that it does all of these much bigger, and in some cases better. No, this isn’t as good as The Dark Knight, but it is an intense movie with huge set pieces that keeps you on your toes from beginning to end and puts a fine cap on the mother of all blockbuster comic book trilogies.

The Amazing Spider-Man Video Game Review

If you liked Batman: Arkham City, it will be hard for you not to at least like The Amazing Spider-Man game a little.

After Beenox produced a pair of more linear Spidey games with Shattered Dimensions and Edge of Time, they put the wall crawler back into an open world with the the movie tie-in to The Amazing Spider-Man (which you can read more about here). The game picks up right where the movie left off, and considering that it came out before the movie did, it was quite spoiler filled.

Essentially Oscorp is trying to recover after all of the bad press they got with Curt Connors turning into a Lizard, and they are eliminating all of his research and moving on to nano technology. Then wouldn’t you know it, all hell breaks loose and the city is running rampant with mixed species monsters and psycho robots out to hunt the monsters, and both parties have it in for our red and blue hero. It’s not Shakespeare, but it is enough to keep you going through the game.

Like I said before, this game goes back to what people loved most about the older Spider-Man movie games, specifically Spider-Man 2, and that’s open world web slinging through Manhattan. Like the games before it, this is where the most fun is to be had. Physics kind of take a back seat as you can throw a web in the air and latch on to something no matter how high you are, and soar through the city. There are plenty of side missions and mini games to do, and while they can get repetitive after a while, it’s still fun to just get to all the points on the map via jumping and swinging through the city. There are also¬†collectables to find throughout the game, but for me the best by far are comic book pages. Scattered around the game are pages of comic books. 500 in all. For every 20 or so pages you collect you get access to an old Spider-Man comic. The full issue. They range from Spidey’s first appearance to the first time he encountered Rhyno and so on. I find myself completely ignoring the missions and just looking for more pages.

The game works best when the action is kept outside

Speaking of the missions, this is probably where the game suffers most. They are very straight forward, and also very easy. Half of the stages turn into beat ’em up sessions while the others are stealth based. Sound familiar? Both tactics are almost identical to Arkham City. There are stealth take downs from above and enemies that are equally aloof. The combat system is exactly the same. Hit the attack button to build combos, web shooters act as batarangs to stun enemies, and your spidey-sense kicks in for dodging much like the caped crusader (although I think we can all agree RockSteady took that from Spider-Man first). That’s all fine and still fun, but it is just too easy. First off the game really spoon feeds you everything. It will tell you when to use your web, when to attack, when to stop, everything. There are bosses that I beat using just the attack button. I didn’t realize he was the final boss of the level until the end. In a word, it’s anticlimactic. I recommend using the hardest difficulty setting if you want any challenge at all. The other problem with most of these levels is that it sticks Spider-Man inside, away from where the game is at it’s best. Not enough of the game is in the open world, which is a shame.

The Amazing Spider-Man game also lifts Arkham City’s navigation and upgrade system among other things. You have physical and tech upgrades that you earn points toward individually. The map is in the same style, with locations marked off to continue the story, then side missions marked in other areas. There are random muggings to stop as well. Snipers on the rooftops. Audio logs to find through out the game. I can go on and on. I know Arkham City didn’t invent any of these ideas, and they are all used in some fashion in most games, but it looks so similar and works in such a way that it has to be mentioned.

Graphically the game is a mixed bag. Spider-Man looks great, and when you are running around the city does too. The major New York land marks are there, with comic spots like the Daily Bugle and Oscorp tower thrown in as well. However when you look too closely you see how it is a little dated. Again, this is a movie tie-in so I can’t expect too much, but it is just one more thing that holds this title back.

Despite it’s shortcomings, The Amazing Spider-Man is a fun game to play. Much like the movie, this game brings Spider-Man back to his roots and mostly succeeds in spite of it’s flaws. If you aren’t a comic book fan it’s worth at least a rental. If are a comic book nerd like myself, it’s worth your money just for the comic books you can collect. You’ll spend more than enough time after finishing the main story looking for all of the comic pages in New York City.

“The Amazing Spider-Man” Review

Be prepared true believers, The Amazing Spider-Man is the best Spider-Man film to date, and might even be better than The Avengers. Yeah, you read that right.

Not everyone was exactly anticipating it like the Marvel string of movies or especially The Dark Knight Rises, but the reboot of the Spider-Man movie franchise is here and it is superior to the old model in virtually every way. You just have to kind of forget the old model exists to fully appreciate it.

I would normally say something about spoilers here, but if you saw any of the Sam Raimi movies or read any Spider-Man comics in the last 50 years, you pretty much know exactly what to expect here. Peter Parker is a dork who gets bit by a radioactive¬†spider, gets powers, learns responsibility and everything else you know. The early stages of the movie can almost be swapped frame for frame with the previous series. Parker gets denied by women, Flash Thompson is a jerk, Peter embarrasses Flash in school, Ben Parker teaches life lessons about responsibility just before dying in a way that Peter could have inadvertently prevented (c’mon you had to know that was coming, right?). On the surface there is very little new. This is inevitable considering we know the characters and the story so well. However when looking closer, you’ll realize that the reboot handles all of these things a lot better.

Flash Thompson has more depth than just being a one note bully. Uncle Ben and Aunt may are much more detailed that before. Ben doesn’t just spew out one liners about being a good person. It comes out more organically. When Peter starts to develop his costume you see the transition from ski mask to the full suit. It makes it become almost believable that it could exist.

Then there is the new. Where we all scoffed at the tagline about “the untold story,” The Amazing Spider-Man does look deeper into Peter’s parent’s, who are scientists who knew too much about whatever it is they knew. The science background lends itself to make Peter the genius that we know from the comics, providing another difference from the trilogy. This reboot is much more faithful to the comics than anything before it. Peter is able to develop the web-shooters on his own, just like in the comics. The background of his father combined with some good timing make it seems much less impossible when he figures out all of the things he pulls off. The photography is there, but just as a hobby instead of going straight to the Daily Bugle. Why doesn’t he go there? Because he’s in high school! Where he belongs!

The other two main differences in the reboot are that he is in high school for the entire film, and Mary Jane Watson is nowhere to be seen. Again staying true to the comics, the love interest in this film is Gwen Stacey. Peter’s first love. This is important as to have one less thing to directly compare to the original films. The other thing it does is let the characters have some fun. Where things got awfully dramatic for Spider-Man the first time around, this time he is a lot more fun loving, and a lot of it has to do with Andrew Garfield.

Where Maguire looked like Peter Parker right off the page of the comics, Andrew Garfield shows much more of Parker’s personality, while still maintaining that look. Not that it was all his fault, but Maguire’s Parker was more of a nerdy man. He wasn’t specifically clever, just corny. Garfield is legitimately funny and interesting as Peter, and is pretty noble and cool well before he ever gets bitten by a spider. Being a high school student definitely helps as it let’s Peter just be an awkward teenager. The only critique I have is that Peter comes off as a bit of a horn-dog. Like I’m talking creepy at times. I can give him a bit of a pass though since he’s supposed to be a teenager, and he’s creeping on a Gwen Stacy being played by Emma Stone. Even Uncle Ben agrees she’s a looker. Stone plays a solid Stacy. Her and Garfield have good chemistry together and work the high school relationship tension as well as they can. I think we are at the end of the rope though for Emma Stone playing a 17 year old girl. I don’t care how good of an actress you are, you can’t make me believe you’re not legal with those stockings young lady. Martin Sheen and Sally Field due Uncle Ben and Aunt May justice as well. As I said before, both characters have more depth than they previously did. May is much less fragile this time around, and Ben can handle himself too. Someone finally realized that they are Peter’s aunt and uncle, not his grandparents.

Of course what superhero movie is complete without a villain. To keep things fresh we have the Lizard, who had been teased throughout the Sam Raimi movies. He, more than any other character, follows the same path as the previous movies. Like every Spider-Man movie villain before him, Lizard is a sympathetic character who chooses the wrong path in pursuit of success. There isn’t much to the Lizard, who isn’t exactly at the top of Spidey’s rogues gallery, but he also doesn’t overshadow Spider-Man, who is the real star here. His alter-ego, Dr. Curt Connors, is played by Rhys Ifans. Ifans essentially takes the place of Norman Osborn in the first film (for now). Connors becomes a father figure to Peter, which creates drama on both sides when they have to fight each other. There isn’t much too him, but he does enough to move everything along and give Spider-Man someone to fight.

That is where The Amazing Spider-Man separates itself from movies like Iron Man. Tony Stark had a very engaging introduction to his character, but he never really had a challenge on his hands. Here, Spider-Man has some great fight scenes with the Lizard, and the action comes off looking really well in 3D. Overall, The Amazing Spider-Man spends a little too much time retelling a story we have already seen several times before, but they have enough additions and revisions to put this among the best movies (not just superhero movies) of the summer.

The Avengers Movie Review

For seven years we have watched Marvel Studios pump out movie after movie. Each one teased us a little more on what was coming. A movie combining four different franchises? Never done before. The Avengers promised to be the Smash Bros. of summer blockbusters. Could it be done? Would the final product pay off in the end? Well after almost a decade of waiting, I can tell you that it can, and it most certainly did.

The Avengers is pretty much a 143 minute money shot. Pretty much all of the Marvel films had that one moment that made the entire audience applaud in geek pride. Well The Avengers does that almost every 20 minutes. There are big reveals, huge set pieces, familiar faces in despair, with some real drama thrown in. And that’s just the prologue.

If you saw either of last year’s Marvel films (Thor and Captain America), then you have an idea of the plot already. Loki comes back to steal the cosmic cube (the Tesseract in the films) so that he can take over the universe. Nick Fury then assembles the Avengers (see what I did there?) in a last ditch effort to save the day. But guess what? They don’t get along initially. Will they overcome their differences to keep Loki from destroying the universe?

SO MUCH AWESOME ALL OVER!

Of course they will! It’s a comic book franchise turned summer blockbuster. You know damn well what is going to happen. That’s not the point though is it. In the process of getting this team together you get every possible confrontation you ever saw in the comics and wanted to see on screen. Captain America vs Iron Man, Hulk vs Thor, Black Widow vs Hawkeye, it’s all there. You get just enough of a taste of what everyone can do individually that get the sense that they are all equal, which of course is the point. It then makes it that much sweeter when they eventually work together and form a cohesive unit against the bad guys. This of course is headlined by the movies primary money shot which is the money shot to end all money shots.

While everyone gets their screen time and chance to shine, it’s the Hulk that surely stole the movie. Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner is great. Where Ed Norton, who I like a lot, played a man on the run who happened to be a scientist, Ruffalo plays Banner as a scientist first. Also, like all of the characters in this movie, Banner is more of a smart ass as well (even Tony Stark). We get teased with the Hulk for most of the movie, but when he finally shows up, he’s here to stay and totally worth the wait. The Hulk does something every time he is on screen that is amazing, and by the end of the movie is he is on screen a lot. You might even see a little more of the Hulk in The Avengers than you did in The Incredible Hulk. You will find yourself simultaneously in aw and laughing at the awesomeness of what the Hulk is capable of.

Perhaps the greatest testament to this movie was that despite everything thrown at you, from metal power suits to super soldiers to aliens to gods, at no point did it seem too over the top. Everything, and I mean everything, was giving reason and purpose and dosed with just enough reality that you buy that it could possibly almost kinda happen. A big part of this was just from how everyone referred to each other. No one calls Iron Man, Iron Man. They call him Tony. Hawkeye is just Clint. Their “superhero” names are only veiled at for the most part. Thor is Thor of course but you get the idea. The point is that by making such detailed origin stories that explain all of the details of how each individual entity came to be, The Avengers is able to get away with concepts and ideas would normally be completely unbelievable, yet we’re still able to accept them.

The Avengers puts its foot on the gas from the very beginning and never lets go. The best thing I can say is that I didn’t want it to end. If I had to nitpick I would say that if you didn’t watch the previous movies you might get a little lost, but it was made for you anyway and you’ll be very entertained regardless. It’s everything that’s right about the summer blockbuster and I’m pretty sure I’ll be seeing it again as soon as possible.

Also the post credit scenes are amazing.

Cena Says Bloody Goodbye to End Extreme Rules

I’ll be the first to admit that I was not that pumped for Extreme Rules. I saw all the rematches and yearned for something new. I saw all the hardcore matches as further distraction from real wrestling. I thought Cena/Lesnar was interesting but would be more of the same we’ve seen from both. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Instead of simply following in WrestleMania 28’s footsteps, Extreme Rules took last month’s PPV and turned it up to eleven, delivering with drama, extreme action and in-ring action alike.

In black and white for some reason

First let’s get to the main event and what everyone will be talking about tomorrow. To put it bluntly, Brock Lesnar beat the crap out of John Cena for roughly 20 minutes. After getting busted open by Lesnar a few weeks ago on Raw, Brock pulled the same routine about a minute into the match, elbowing Cena in the back of the head and making him a bloody mess for the entire match, which had to be stopped twice to superglue Cena’s head together (not exaggerating). The rest of the match was Lesnar dominating as much as I’ve ever seen anyone dominate before. If you thought Tensai and Clay could throw people around, then you haven’t seen Lesnar. It was also a nice touch that Brock wore his MMA gear (allowed through his contract, very rare), and it can’t be talked about enough how much of a monster he is. Anyway he pummeled Cena to the point where the crowd started pulling for Cena (not easy to do) who finally hit Lesnar with a fist full of chains and an AA on the steel steps to secure the win. Hip hip hooray, Cena’s off the snide.

But the real story is what happened after the match. Cena’s right arm was noticeably dangling from his shoulder by the end, which he even acknowledged when he addressed the crowd. He then started talking about how he’ll probably get fired (on camera) for what he’s going to say, but mentioned how all of the good guys and bad guys sacrificed their bodies at Extreme Rules, and thanked Chicago for being such a great wrestling city (he actually said wrestling!). He also said (off and on mic) that he’ll probably be leaving for a while, citing both his injury and that Laurinaitis would kick him out (for what I still don’t know). Then as Cena walked up the ramp he was again heard off camera telling a fan about his arm, saying something like “it just feels like it’s hanging there.”

How much of this is legit or not I can’t say. He definitely looked hurt but he’s in the business of selling injuries so who knows what you can take from that. It is pretty rare for a post match mic session to be put on air (which again can go either way) and he sounded fairly genuine. It’s also possible that he is just in line for some scheduled time off and what better way to send him off than with a “severe” injury in a big win. Works for Triple H and the Undertaker. If it’s planned out (which I tend to think it is) then I think they wanted Cena to make his leave with as much positive reaction as possible, so that whenever he does come back in isn’t to as many boos. I also think they are enjoying having Punk as champion so much that they want to keep him their, and don’t know how to transition Cena back into the title picture yet (which eventually he has to). Either way Cena is still the biggest draw, so for their sake I hope he comes back as soon as possible (unless it’s a work, which in that case screw him).

Still the best in the world

On to the rest of the card. Jericho and Punk had me really worried that having a Chicago Street Fight would take away all of the wrestling they were known for. I wasn’t put at ease when they both came out in jeans instead of traditional wrestling gear. What we got however might have been the best combination of both. It started slow and expectedly weapon filled, but by the middle of the match there was a great combination of technical wrestling mixed in with weapons. The Anaconda Vice countered with a kendo stick. Code breakers with chairs were hit. My favorite spot had Punk crawling to the ropes while in the Walls of Jericho, only it didn’t mean anything because of the street fight rules. That lead to Punk reaching down toward the arena floor to grab and use a fire extinguisher on Jericho to break the hold. The key to the whole thing was the stipulation that the pin or submission had to be in the ring. That kept things from going backstage which is the least entertaining thing possible, and kept these guys where they do their best work. After more taunting from Jericho (tacked on but he finally has full heel status for it), Y2J went to finish Punk with ¬†a GTS, which Punk reversed and delivered a GTS of his own to retain the title.

So now Jericho has lost to Punk in two PPV’s, once by submission and once by pinfall, both clean. Where can Jericho go from here? The rumor is that Jericho will be gone before Summerslam, which is four months away, to go on tour with Fozzy. That means he could leave now or three months from now, and if Cena’s gone I’m not sure what else he can do besides keep feuding with Punk, who’s he’s now lost to twice already. Punk meanwhile has been champion for six months and is running out of opponents. Does Lord Tensai get a push? Jericho/Punk part 3? It’s possible Lesnar get’s the next shot would make for some good old fashioned MMA style fighting. I could also see Daniel Bryan switching to Raw and gunning for Punk now that he’s lost to Sheamus.

Speaking of which, what a great match Bryan and Sheamus had. It had everything you want in a great match. The crowd had been waiting four weeks for this one and they were ready for it. Electric stuff. It’s always special when a heel becomes so popular that the face gets booed, and that’s what happened here. Then the storyline they told worked really well. After a hard fought back and forth battle that would have been a great TV main event any other day, Bryan then attacked Sheamus’ shoulder in the corner so brutally that he purposefully got disqualified for the first of 3 falls, only to immediately administer the Yes Lock to get take the second and tie it up. Sheamus, who was very impressive, managed to secure the win with a couple of brogue kicks, but the star of the show was still Bryan. For the first time since I started watching him, he had everything clicking in a big spot. He was a smaller heel being treated as a face, making a giant beast of a face look like the underdog by the end of the match. Loved it.

The real star of the show

Now that the WWE seems committed to Sheamus as a champion all signs point to him meeting Alberto Del Rio at Over the Limit in May. Bryan on the other hand has no direct path. One thing that surprised me about the match was that AJ was nowhere to be seen. Probably for the better, but I’m sure she’ll pop up later this week.

Other notes from Extreme Rules:

Cody Rhodes beat the Big Show in a table match on a technicality, as Rhodes pushed Show slightly off the edge of the ring, having his foot (and just his foot) break through the table, and costing him the Intercontinental title. Show dominated the whole match, including throwing Rhodes through two tables post match, so this feud seems to have another chapter or two left.

Randy Orton opened the show by defeating Kane in a match that would have bored me completely had it been after any of the other matches mentioned above. They had some decent spots, but too much throwing people into objects outside the ring, which we all know by now that I hate. Let’s give it up to a random Zach Ryder appearance though.

Brodus Clay’s feud with Vicki Guerrero took another turn when he had an actual back and forth match against Dolph Ziggler. Clay won of course but Ziggler put up a good fight and we got to see Clay fight back a little. It’s taking a while, but we’re starting to see what this guy is actually made of. Decent job.

On the YouTube pre show, Santino retained his US Championship against the Miz who seems to be dropping further and further down the depth chart.

Ryback was correctly labeled as Goldberg by the crowd, defeating two hilariously awesome local wrestlers.

As for the ladies, Layla came back to beat the Bella’s for the Diva’s title. Kharma’s name now gets tossed around like a an urban legend, and Beth Phoenix will be out for a while with her leg “injury.”

Oh yeah, Michael Cole called out Booker T for saying he knew Sheamus was tired by looking at all his sweat, and said that if Booker’s fighting was anything like his announcing, he’d do fine in a fight against him.

Overall I’d say it was a pretty successful pay-per-view. Very few dead spots and the time killing was kept to a minimum. We also saw plenty of blood (the best way to get Cena on the crowd’s side) and plenty of regular wrestling too. Did I miss anything you noticed? If so, leave a comment below.

-Update: I just realized the pics are in black and white so you can’t see the blood! Oh WWE, you are sooooooooo slick.

WrestleMania 28: The End of an Era?

WrestleMania 28 is over and it paid off in almost every aspect but one. However that one was bigger than Andre the Giant and the Big Show combined.

In the opening match of wrestling’s biggest event, Sheamus defeated Daniel Bryan in 18 seconds to win the World Heavyweight Championship. ¬†Think about that for a minutes before continuing.

Blink and you missed it

First off, could this title be held in any lower regard by the WWE? It has opened 2 of the last 3 PPV’s and now the title has changed hands in 18 seconds? It might be better to be the US Champ right now. Then there is the rumor that this match was not supposed to lead off until the last-minute. If so then what was the opener, and was this the original plan for the match? If you want to look at it optimistically for Bryan, losing the way he did keeps him in the title picture and gives an angle to fully become a heel. Possibly even getting his rematch at Extreme Rules in April. However, while I’ve never been a big fan of his, Bryan is supposed to be one of the best in-ring performers in the business and he never got to show it on the biggest stage possible. Yes it was shocking and memorable, but couldn’t Big Show have done that to Cody Rhodes instead?

Speaking of that match, it’s good for the Big Show that he finally got his WrestleMania moment, but what is he going to do with the Intercontinental Title? I always imagined that and the US Title to be for younger wrestlers on the way up. Big Show is about as established as you could possibly be. The match was fine, and I’m fine with the result. I just don’t think this is a championship Big Show needs to hold. One guy that jumps out at me for it is Brodus Clay. If they are really serious about him in the WWE, beating Big Show clean and giving him the Intercontinental Title is a quick way to do that. Unfortunately after seeing him do nothing more than dance with his mamma tonight, I’m afraid the WWE doesn’t feel the same way. If they are going to push him, give him a win that matters. Otherwise, send him back to Ohio Valley Wrestling to give him a new gimmick.

Kane vs Orton was a better match than I thought it would be. I’m really just glad so much of it was in the ring. Perhaps Kane is finally shaking the rust off during those dopey Cena matches because he stepped it up a notched. It was also a win he sorely needed since he can’t lose every real match and still pick up heat. I have no idea what’s in store for Orton as he could probably use some time off after all the injuries he rushed back from. I can also see him get back into a title picture to start the new round of PPV’s.

The Divas match and the 12 man tag both went pretty much as expected. Team Johnny had to win and having the Miz make the cover gives him a good push coming out of ‘Mania. Also, things are just so much more fun when there is a heel GM. Johnny Ace is already causing hell for CM Punk and now that he is in full control we can expect a lot more of that on both brands. Hell, Daniel Bryan might even get his rematch this Friday. A lot of people are complaining about Maria Menounos pinning Beth Phoenix again, but losing in a gimmicky way like that is better for her than losing clean to Kelly Kelly right? I don’t even know why I’m bothering with them anyway. They can’t even come of the ropes right. Both matches had their moments and were about as enjoyable as they could be.

Oldie and a goodie

Now on to the main events. The Hell in a Cell match was solid for me, but it did show me just how little the Undertaker and Triple H have left. They both went all out for the full match and had plenty of big spots with big bumps that they both took well. The pace of the match just seemed off to me. I recently watched all of the previous Undertaker ‘Mania matches with Michaels and Triple H, and the one thing I’m noticing is how each one is more and more about drama and less about the match. Asking the opponent to stay down, wanting to go out the right way, it has all gotten laid out thicker and thicker each time, with tonight being the worst culprit. I know I’m nitpicking but I expected a little more out of two of the best performers in WWE history. I did really like how they used Shawn Michaels as the guest referee, but he overplayed it so badly that it was distracting. He looked like he was getting attacked by bees every time someone kicked out of a finisher. The rest of the time he was wincing on every chair shot or acting like a psycho in the corner. Almost took me out of the match. On the other hand I can’t discount the fact that this match completely delivered in taking us back to the “attitude” era matches. The chair shots they took were vicious. Look at the Undertaker’s back at the end and you can see how hard they were. Also, planned or not, we saw some legit blood in a match that we all knew needed. The way it all ended with the three-way man hug was a touching, I admit, even if it was a little too much. Overall it was a nice way to end this four-year old story.

CM Punk and Chris Jericho put on exactly the kind of show I was hoping they would. It was one of the best technical matches I have seen in a long time. The only thing they had to do was get the whole talking about your family/Punk can lose on a DQ angle out of the way and from that point it was great. It just makes me wonder why they did it in the first place if it was all out of the equation five minutes in, but I guess whatever they need to draw attention they will do. Anyway, what a well executed match! Reversals and springboards and submission moves. Reversals of finishers and long chain grapples. Jericho proved he can definitely still run with the big dogs and for Punk to win via submission the way he did was just perfect. It also means that one man has held the WWE Championship for four months (to be five by the next PPV), which is something I’ve been hoping for for a while now. Whenever Punk does lose that belt, it will be a really big deal.

Now what?

Finally the main main event. After all this hype the match that was a year in the making was…good. The Rock showed a little more rust that I thought he would show, and he was definitely helped by the direction of the match. Two spots that contained lengthy submission holds to go along with the usual amount of time a wrestler just lies on the ground, and that the Rock still seemed winded at times says something about his conditioning. He made all the moves he had to though and Cena held up his end as well. There were a numbers of moments where either man could have won which is one of the main things you look for in a good match. I’m extremely surprised that the Rock won. Cena hasn’t really had a big win in a while and now he just lost to a guy who has barely wrestled for years. It’ll look even worse if Cena talks about how lucky he was to even be part of that main event, as I’m predicting.

One thing the match put in my head is the hope for a Cena heel turn. It’s been long overdue and Cena looked to take to it during the match, specifically at the finish when he attempted to finish the Rock with a failed People’s Elbow. I’m not holding my breath, but I’m hoping that losing how he did could push him over that line. The other thing I took from it were the similarities to the Hogan/Rock match at WrestleMania 18. Right from the beginning where they both panned the crowd, to the test of strength, to pretty much everything but the finish reminded me of that match, and that’s a good thing.

One glaring thing that did come out of tonight was that the old guard needs to pass the torch now. Two of the three main events were won by guys that wrestle once a year, and one of your best talents lost one of the main titles in 18 seconds. The WWE is relying way too heavily on the same people, and it just can’t go on forever.

Starting Monday we get brand new storylines and rivalries. We’ll also probably get the first match to be confirmed for WrestleMania 29 in New Jersey. (It was cold and pouring rain all night in New York by the way. Hoping for greener pastures a year from now). There were no guest run-ins at WrestleMania (sorry Batista, Lesnar fans) but there is always hope for the next show!

What did you think of ‘Mania? Think it was crap? Think Bryan got screwed? Sound off in the comments below!