Last Year In Geek

It’s official, the year 2011 is done and over with. It’s been a year of ups and downs, and more downs, and slight inclines that lead to steep declines. It’s been a relatively crazy 365 days, that’s for sure. So much has happened this year. Far too much to compile into a simple list, but that’s not going to stop me from trying anyway. So, here’s a brief list of some of the major moments in geekdom this past year.

1. Carrie Fisher & William Shatner Argue About Star Wars vs. Star Trek:
Geeks have been debating about which is better for decades, but William Shatner and Carrie Fisher took to YouTube to settle things once and for all. It turned into a fairly ugly war of words, with insults flying. Neither won, but in a style only he could manage, George Takei once again became the welcome voice of reason. Asking the fans of both Star Wars and Star Trek to put aside their differences and focus on a common enemy; namely Twilight. You go George Takei, you go.

2. Marvel Reigns, in The Box Office:
2011 brought us two action packed movies based on Marvel Comics superheroes. Thor (with a stunning cast line-up.) and Captain America: The First Avenger completed the series leading the way to The Avengers opening some time next year. X-Men: First Class  managed to not only reboot the franchise but, make a prequel as well. No matter how far it may have strayed from cannon.

3. We Lose a Technological Icon:
The death of Steve Jobs rocked the tech industry as well as the world itself. Regardless of what anyone may have thought of the man, he did much to help build and improve upon the technology we currently use. Jobs died peacefully, surrounded by family members, his family said in a statement. In recent years Jobs had fought a form of pancreatic cancer and had a liver transplant.”Steve’s brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives.”

4. Thundercats Gets a Revamp:
Reintroducing the 80’s franchise to a generation of kids, tweens and beyond that had never heard of them before; mixing sci-fi action with a fantasy backdrop familiar to early fans. Despite its obvious difference from the original, from the very beginning, the Thundercats spawned in 2011 seem to be doing something right. I’m still watching it.

5. Star Wars: The Clone Wars Does it Right:                                                                                                                                            The Clone wars has been hailed as the most vital take on the franchise since Empire. Bringing a weekly dose of actual war, it’s got all of the action and adventure that you grew up loving about Star Wars with new plots and intrigue to keep you on your toes. Add to that, the stylized CG art used on the show. “Now matter how many new cuts, edits, and additions to the trilogy and prequels Lucasfilm puts out there, for all intents and purposes, The Clone Wars is keeping the spirit of the original trilogy alive.”

6. Transformers Does Better than Expected:                                                                                                                                            Despite what many may have thought about the films and or the franchise based on the films(including Megan Fox), the franchise has managed to thrive. With the absence of Megan Fox in the latest installment of Transformers entitled Transformers: Dark of the Moon, people can focus on what the movie’s really about.: Giant robots fighting one another and blowing stuff up. What’s more is that whatever the film franchise may have lacked in geek-cred prior to Dark of the Moon, with the help of Mr. Leonard Nimoy in his role as Sentinel Prime it has most certainly made up for.

7. Shouting at Dragons:                                                                                                                                                                                           The latest game to be developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks was The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. This game gave players another look into the wonderfully fascinating world of the Elder Scrolls. In this followup to Oblivion, we see numerous improvements. From the design of the non playable characters down to the physics of the game, things are noticeably different, and I’m not complaining at all. Unlike many of the other installments of the Elder Scrolls, Skyrim gave us dragons. Not just dragons, but talking dragons. And if talking dragons weren’t enough.. it gave us giants, with clubs, and mammoths(all of which will attack the hell out of you.) There’s more than enough in this game to keep you entertained for… well.. for quite a while. (assuming you actually sleep at some point in time and have other things to do than just play the game all day every day.)

8. Harry Potter and the Kicking of Butt:                                                                                                                                                  2011 saw the second half of the final chapter of the exploits of (lots of of’s) Harry James Potter (and friends) take place. Death Eaters were left starving, Dementors were left more demented than when they began, the Freddy Kruger/Avon lady known as the former Professor Umbridge more than gets her just deserts, and an epic battle between good and evil finally goes down. Best of all is Molly Weasley. Throughout the films, her character shows little growth, though growth none the less, but not until the this 2nd half of the final film does she truly blossom; and when she does.. it’s that blossoming, not Harry’s defeat of the dark lord that takes center stage. You go Molly Weasley.

9. Death of The I T Crowd:                                                                                                                                                                                   The hilariously funny UK based show didn’t make it to a fifth season. Despite that sad news, there is the promise of a final episode that will unfortunately not air in the US. The I T Crowd… you will be missed. If you haven’t managed to check out this show, I strongly urge you to. Especially if you’re a fan of British comedy.

10. The Doctor is In:                                                                                                                                                                                                      One of the best things to come on to TV in the year 2011 was the sixth season of Doctor Who. From the beginning, things got off to an amazing start. We got to see those wonderful Weeping Angels once again, we get introduced to the creepiness of Silence, the constant foreshadowing of the Doctor’s death, and lastly but not least, there’s the episode “The Doctor’s Wife wherein the Doctor’s TARDIS comes to life and we realize that through everything, she is his only constant companion. Though I myself have yet to see this episode, I’ve heard nothing but good things about it, and given the direction the current incarnation of the Doctor has been headed in, I’m inclined to believe what I’ve heard.

 

May the new year bring far more moments in geekdom and may they be as pleasant as possibly possible.
Happy Geek New Year.

x_men_1

First Class or No Class??

X-Men: First Class is a superhero film by Matthew Vaughn and produced by Bryan Singer released in the US on June 3, 2011, based on the X-Men from the Marvel Comics. The fifth installment in the X-Men series, the film acts as a prequel for the X-Men trilogy, set in the 1960’s during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It focuses on the relationship between Charles Xavier (Professor X) and Erik Lensherr (Magneto) and the origin of their perspective groups, the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants.

Plot: The film begins in the German concentration camps in Poland in 1944 where a scientist, Dr. Schmidt looks upon a young Erik Lensherr appearing to bend back a metal gate with his thoughts, while being separated from his parents by Nazi officers. Schmidt brings Erik back to his office, where he orders him to move a coin on his desk in a way similar to how he moved the gate at the camp. When Erik is unable to comply, Schmidt shoots and kills his mother in front of him. In an angered rage, Erik’s powers go out of control and he kills two guard and destroys the lab, much to Schmidt’s delight.

At this time in Westchester, New York mansion, we see a young Charles Xavier meeting a young, shape-shifting girl named Raven in his house looking for food. Overjoyed to meet someone else “different” like he is, he welcomes Raven into his family. The film then jumps to the present day in 1962 in Switzerland, where Erik Lensherr intimidates a banker into tracing a bar of Nazi gold to Argentina where Schmidt is located. While there, Eric comes across former German soldiers who patronize him. He kills the two soldiers and a man who points a gun at him and learns that Schmidt has a boat in Florida.

Mean while in Oxford, England, Charles Xavier becomes a graduate at University and is showing a presentation on mutation along with Raven, who now lives with him. In Las Vagas, Moira MacTaggert, a undercover CIA agent, follows the U.S Army Colonel Hendry into the Hellfire Club quarters where she sees Sebastian Shaw, Emma Frost and Azazel threatening Hendry. Azazel then teleports Hendry away and a few moments later, he is in the War Room instructing the U.S to install nuclear missiles is Turkey. When Hendry threatens Shaw with a grenade, he demonstrates his ability to absorb energy. He also reveals himself to be Dr. Schmidt, but de- aged…

That’s all the “plot” I’m giving away…

Just as the original comic book focused on a common human theme of good versus evil and later, themes about prejudice and racism, (all of which have persisted throughout the series in one form or another) so too has the film focused on these same themes (Predominantly in the form of  the First Class versus Sebastian Shaw & Eric Lensherr’s belief that mankind would hate and shun mutant-kind out of fear and ignorance.).  If you’ve never picked up a comic book or watched the X-Men cartoon growing up in the 90’s however, this film is just another good watch, but if in fact you have read the comic books or seen the cartoon, then you’ve noticed a few…incongruities to say the least.

One thing you may have noticed was the lineup of Professor Xavier’s X-Men in the film. Where was Iceman? Where was Angel (Warren Worthington III)? Where were Marvel Girl (Jean Grey) & Cyclops (Scott Summers)? In lieu of them, we see Angel Salvadore, Banshee (Sean Cassidy), Havok ( Alex Summers), Darwin (Armando Muñoz)..etc. Another noticeable difference is the fact that in the film, Charles Xavier still has a full head of hair, unlike in the comic books and cartoon where he’s completely bald. Among the more important differences art these four:

Havok’s Backstory and Family History: In the comics: Havok is Cyclops’ younger brother. He is able to generate powerful plasma blasts, an ability he has had difficulty controlling. He was raised in an orphanage and met the other X-Men in college while studying geophysics.

In ‘X-Men: First Class’: Havok is a young prisoner sprung by the X-Men as an ally after being found using Xavier’s Cerebro (though in the film, Cerebro was created by Hank McCoy). It’s hinted that he is Cyclops’ father.

Banshee’s Age and Relationship With Moira: In the comics: Banshee is an Irish ex-Interpol agent who is significantly older than the other X-Men. His power is the ability to scream supersonically, allowing him to fly and break things. He meets X-Men ally Dr. Moira McTaggert and falls in love with her.

In ‘X-Men: First Class’: Banshee is a redhead, but he’s American-made. He’s also a teenager, making any sort of romance with grown-woman Moira pretty grody. He’s portrayed as the youngest of the baby X-Men. At least the actor playing him, Caleb Jones, tried to incorporate some of his comics knowledge into the role.

Xavier Becoming Paralyzed: In the comics: An alien named Lucifer, disguised as the devil, was acting as the advance scout for an invasion by his race, and Charles Xavier foiled his plans. In retaliation, Lucifer dropped a huge stone block on Xavier, crippling his legs.

In ‘X-Men: First Class’: Moira shoots at Magneto despite knowing of his mastery of magnetism and he blocks her every shot. One of the shots that he blocks bounces in the direction of Charles, hitting him in his spine and taking away any usage of his legs.

Lastly, but far from least of the key differences between film and comic book is that of Moira MacTaggert: In ‘X-Men: First Class’: Moira MacTaggert is portrayed as a dark-haired CIA agent.

Moira MacTaggert: In the comics: Moira is from Scotland and is one of the world’s leading authorities on genetic mutation and a Nobel Prize winner. She was also the silent partner in the founding of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters and co-creator of Cerebro, Moira assisted Xavier in helping the young Jean Grey recover after the traumatic triggering of her mutant abilities.

All together.. Not just this movie, but all of the X-Men movies that have been made before this film are a bit… wrong. From costume changes and period shifts to lineup changes and diverging completely from any form of Marvel cannon. Despite this, I can’t help but enjoy watching the films.

And by the way… the Dark Phoenix was not some dormant part of Jean Grey’s psyche . The Phoenix Force was a conscious, living, cosmic entity known throughout the galaxy that for a time became part of Jean Grey.