Hey, everyone. Hope you had a great holiday weekend. If you're outside America, I hope you had a great regular weekend!
Before we get started with the blog, I just wanted to post an update about the Kickstarter fund raising campaign for Theater Hopper: Year Three. There are 31 days left to go in the campaign and we are 38% funded. I am starting to feel the pinch. I had hoped we'd be at least 50% funded by now, but I realize that the Thanksgiving holiday probably served as a distraction for some of you.
Quick question: How many of you fought the crowds on Black Friday? It sucked, didn't it. Doesn't it kind of make you wonder why you're running around like a chicken with your head cut off, trying to score a deal on a cheap... whatever to give someone for the holidays?
If you've ever found yourself in an existential funk during the holidays, stick it to commercialism and stick it to "The Man" by pledging your support to an independent artist. Even if it's only a dollar. It's good karma.
In the meantime, if you don't have a dollar to spare but maybe own a copy of Theater Hopper: Year One or Theater Hopper: Year Two, please leave your comments and insights on the Kickstarter campaign comments page. A few of you have done this already and I thank you for that.
It is my feeling that if we can get a few more people talking about the existing books, it might convince the people who are on the fence to help support the next one. So get in there and leave a few comments!
Tonight I hope to finally getting around to drawing the Monsters, Inc. original giveaway artwork that I talked about back on November 13. I think I figured out how I'm going to draw it and also how I'm going to stage a fun little video update showing you how the artwork was put together.
Thanks and now onto the blog!
Today's comic is based on something that happened to me when I went to see Ninja Assassin on Saturday night. I went to the late showing, which is typical for me when it's a movie Cami has no interest in seeing. I check out the movie, she goes to bed. It's a win-win.
Anyway, I went into a mostly empty theater about 10 minutes before the movie started, found a seat in the middle of the auditorium in the middle row (where I always sit) and was feeling very pleased with myself since it didn't look like I would have to suffer any buffoonish behavior from the people sitting around me.
No sooner had I settled in, than two teenagers plopped down behind me. One of them put their feet up on the chair next to me. For the entire movie, I'm looking at his shoes out of the corner of my eye.
Certainly people are free to sit where ever they want. But at the time, I found it odd. A nearly empty theater and you sit directly behind someone? It defies logic to me. I mean, I know stadium seating kind of eliminates the back of someone's head behind a viewing obstruction, but still. I mean... it's kind of like a bathroom full of empty urinals and some stranger occupying the urinal directly next to you.
Guys, you know what I'm talking about!
No sooner had I begun to bristle at the proximity of this duo and their footwear, then another couple of guys appeared and took the seats directly in front of me!
Again, a nearly empty theater. Your pick of the litter and you plop down directly in front of me? Maybe my "bubble" of personal space extends a few feet farther than the average person, but it just felt weird. Like I was being surrounded, or something.
Ultimately, no one ended up taking the seats on either side of me. But I think I've been spoiled by my nocturnal and solitary movie-watching habits. I can't remember the last time I went to a movie that was so packed, I was asked to move down the aisle or cozy up next to someone else. Despite wanting the "community" experience of watching a movie in a large theater with several people, I'm really not very interested in engaging with them on any level. I will take off my coat and put it in the empty seat next to me. I would prefer to have the row to myself. I am a terrible, terrible person.
As for the movie itself, I liked Ninja Assassin a lot. It was pretty much everything I expected it to be - everything I hoped it would be.
The movie is first-rate cheese. Threadbare plot and hardly any dialogue. Korean pop sensation Rain does a great job in the lead role of Raizo. Looking at him perform amazing feats of athletic prowess, it never occurred to me that this guy is the Asian equivalent of Justin Timberlake.
Imagine instead of hosting Saturday Night Live, Justin Timberlake starred in an action movie where he slaughtered hundreds of people. Actually, now that I think about it, I'd kind of like to see that movie!
Most of my complaints with Ninja Assassin are stylistic ones. I'm willing to forgive the clunky dialogue and complete lack of chemistry between... well, ANYONE in the movie. But the way the movie depicts ninja's as wall-crawling blurs that silently float into open windows is laughably stupid.
Director James McTeigue made a few smart choices regarding the interplay between light and shadows and how ninjas use the darkness to their advantage. But then he pushes things too far by making the ninjas almost supernatural in their ability to move quickly and manifest directly behind their opponents. A ninja should be unpredictable and and dangerous, but not become a ghoul or a vampire.
Actually, there's a scene where a SWAT team enters a warehouse and McTeigue pulls the camera up above their head to reveal a swarm of ninjas slithering about the rafters. It reminded me more of one of the Alien movies where the horrible creatures were about to get the drop on the unsuspecting Colonial Marines
In some scenes, Ninja Assassin plays almost like a horror movie and an effective one at that. Because you really have no idea where the attack is going to come from. But when it happens, it will be brutal and it will be bloody. McTeigue does a good job of ratcheting up the fear and tension in these scenes.
But let's talk about the blood for a second. Because there's a lot of it and this movie and it's WAY over the top. It's not the gore that bothered me. It was the authenticity of it.
For whatever reason, McTeigue uses a lot of CGI blood in this movie and it looks ridiculous. I realize that maybe he was aiming for some kind of cartoonish ultra-violence like Sin City or Kill Bill, but it comes off looking like amateur hour. Maybe he was trying to make the red more visible in what is otherwise a very darkly lit film. But again, it just looks wrong.
You can't tell me that CGI blood looks better or costs less than some expertly placed squibs and a couple gallons of red dye and Kayo syrup.
But again, these are complaints against stylistic choices and are really only a minor distraction from the main event. The film is fast-paced and breath-taking. You pretty much get to see ninjas do everything you want to see them do in a movie and the film is very satisfying, visceral entertainment because of it. A great "switch your brain off" flick to combat holiday stress. If you're looking to have a little fun, I highly recommend it.
I was going to talk a little bit about the other movie I saw this weekend - The Fantastic Mr. Fox - but I went on a little too long with my review of Ninja Assassin. I'm sure I'll get to it later this week, but if you want a preview of what I'll be talking about, be sure to tune in to The Triple Feature tonight at 9:00 PM at TalkShoe.com where I'm sure we'll be talking about The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Ninja Assassin and more!
If you saw either of these two films this weekend, I'd love to hear what you thought about them! So leave your comments below. Otherwise, I'll talk to you soon.
Have a great day!