Top 10 Movie Villains

I’ve already done a post about my favorite video game villains, so now I thought that I’d do another top 10 for my favorite movie villains.  I may end up doing my favorite book and TV villains, but that’s a list for another day.  Film has some amazing villains, and it is hard to have a list for just 10.  Feel free to tell me what some of your favorites are in the comments.  Me and my friend Quinn talked about this for hours and I have come up with my list of the villains who stuck out to me the most.  I want to be clear that when I say villains, I mean characters or monsters who meant harm to the protagonist.  So it isn’t just creatures with bad intentions.  Sometimes it’s just a creature doing what it does without any malice at all.  Let’s get started.

10. Sauron
Lord of the Rings
I just love that this villain has so much presence all without having a body at all.  The reason he is so low on this list given the pure evil power he has is because in the film they categorized him as having a giant flaming eye.  In the books he had no form at all.  His evil was absolute.  When I do the book list, he will be much higher.  But this guy is evil with a capital E, and can corrupt the purest souls he finds with the promise of power.  He nearly brought Middle Earth to its knees, hence why he is on the list.

9. Capt. James Hook
Hook
This guy is so iconic!  I’ve loved pretty much every iteration with him.  Even the live action Peter Pan film from the early 2000’s, he was the best part.  Granted, there he was played by Jason Isaacs, who can make evil just roll off the tongue.  But my favorite version by far is the one by Dustin Hoffman.  Hook was a great movie.  The cutesy shit aside, this film had everything right.  The casting was almost pitch-perfect, with Pan’s kids being the only problem.  They were insufferable.  But never has this character had more character than when Hoffman brought him to life.  He was manic, he was diabolical, and he was so damn classy!  Hoffman could make this guy into quite the charmer.  He can smash clocks to pieces, then rally his crew to battle.  This guy was so much fun.  Not all villains have to be super serious.  This guy had it all while being funny as fuck from time to time.

8. Sid
Toy Story
Maybe this is my nostalgia goggles on a little to tight, but when I was a kid, this dude freaked me the fuck out!  Sid is so delightfully evil, but the thing that really makes him stand out among the villains on this list is that he isn’t really that evil.  Something you don’t think about as a kid but do when you get older is that he is honestly just a kid.  He’s a weird-ass kid, but he’s still a kid.  I’m talking to boys for the most part now, but how many of you have horribly mangled or mutilated your toys when you were really little?  It doesn’t mean you’re evil.  It means you’re young.  This character isn’t really malevolent.  He is just an ADHD little shit who has weird hobbies.  But man did that kid freak me out.  At the time I saw the film, I was around Sid’s age, and yeah, I admit to being weird little shit myself.  Scary, funny, but never truly evil

7. Shere Khan
Jungle Book
Disney has such an amazing library of villains to choose from.  I could make an entire list just of my favorite villains from their library.  But one of the ones that truly stood out to me was Shere Khan.  Not just because of the AMAZING voicework.  I mean pitch-perfect.  This dude is such a badass and he knows it.  This dude has absolutely zero fucks to give because he knows that anyone who fucks with him is dead.  And the entire jungle knows that if he is mad, you are fucked.  But the way he can be so damn classy just takes the cake.  He never raises his voice, but you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he means business!  This pussy isn’t fucking around, and that’s what earns him this spot.  Scar wishes he could be this cool.  The scene where he interrogate Kaa is just the best.  He knows that the snake is fucking with him, but he just lets it go on.  So badass.

6. Predator
Predator (franchise)
It was such a hard pick between this and the xenomorph.  I knew I could only pick one.  But to me the Predator is much more fascinating of a villain.  It doesn’t kill people from some sense of malice.  It sees all other life as merely prey.  Does it care that we are sentient?  Nope.  That’s part of the fun.  We’re a lifeform worthy to hunt, and it goes after the biggest badasses it can fine.  A bummer that so many of the films with this creature are either really mediocre or suck.  I admit that Predator 2 is a guilty pleasure.  It hunts with violent precision, and will attack you no matter where you are.  It’s an apex hunter, that hunts the most dangerous game in the galaxy.

5. Mark Hamill’s Joker
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
A lot of people will be mad at me for not picking Heath Ledger’s Joker.  Or even Jack Nicholson’s.  Don’t get me wrong, I think both performances are amazing.  But here’s the thing, as great as both of them are, Mark Hamill always seemed to capture the madness so much better.  With Nicholson, you believed that he is evil.  Hell, he’s been playing that roll for forever.  And Ledger seemed to be trying to make a point.  But Hamill’s voice-acting was able to bring this character to life by having you never really being able to know just how insane he was, or how much he thought things out.  Violent, twisted, funny, and always having you guessing.  This character is iconic, and this film had him doing a great role too.  The scene in the councilman’s office was my favorite.  How he can go from being happy and taunting, to fearful for his safety, to twisted and evil in the span of a few seconds is just great.  There are a lot of great portrayals of the character, but Mark Hamill has always been and will always be my favorite.

4. Hans Landa
Inglorious Basterds
Quentin Tarantino has a real gift when it comes to making villains who aren’t just evil for the sheer joy of it.  He has this real talent for making three-dimensional villains who have a ton of depth.  I like it.  Nowhere is this more exemplified than in Hans Landa.  This guy is so damn charismatic.  He has all the class and charm of a gentleman, but has the twisted sense of darkness and evil of the biggest scenery-chewing Bond villains.  The thing I really love about this guy is that all of how he does is bravado.  Landa is in it for himself.  He’s a twisted, violent monster who can play it off so smoothly to Aldo that even when he is going to fuck him up, he still buys the narrative.  This guy is a twisted monster who can put on a sheep’s clothing seamlessly.  It’s pretty great stuff.

3. Hans Gruber
Die Hard
Another villain who is equal parts evil and classy.  Only Alan Rickman could have done this villain justice.  There is no other.  This guy is just the best.  He’s a cocky, greedy intellectual who is so in love with the sound of his own voice.  Hearing him play off Bruce Willis’ character is just the best.  Especially when they are in the same room together.  But this guy is sure of himself, and even when it all starts falling apart, he is cool and collected.  There’s not too much to say about this guy.  He’s just got the most charm that any villain will likely ever have.  It’s Alan Rickman at his most Rickman.  May he rest in peace.

2. Maleficent
Sleeping Beauty
Classy women who are evil can never, EVER be matched up with Maleficent.  This woman is badass with a capital B.  All it took is someone snubbing her by not inviting her to a party and she spins an elaborate plan to kill the daughter whose birthday she was not invited to.  The poise and elegance that this woman carries herself with is so profound.  Not talking about the live action version!  Fuck that movie.  The 1959 version of this character is what I’m really talking about.  I wouldn’t cross her if my life depended on it, because those who do learn very fast that the price of fucking with her.  When you do get under her skin, and make her mad, this woman will fuck you up!  Or your children.  No evil queen has as much presence as she does.

And my favorite movie villain is…

1. Velociraptor
Jurassic Park
When you talk about the apex predator, in my mind, there is not that can hold a candle to the velociraptor.  Not evil at all, it’s just a hunter.  But what it lacks in malice it makes up for in sheer cunning.  This creature will hunt you down and rip you to pieces.  The scene where the warden is hunted is just perfect.  He never stood a chance.  Before he even got started, he was dead.  These things are what nightmares are made of.  You don’t see them coming.  Their claws and teeth rip you to pieces.  You are still alive when they start eating you.  They feel no fear and you are no match for them.  When you’re out in the woods, alone, that’s what you should really fear coming after you.  Because once the hunt is on, it’s already over.  At least if you are the prey.  I love these things so much.  It kills me how the sequels fucked over the cool factor, but it is what it is.

What are some of your favorite villains?  Let me know below.

Until next time, a quote,

“Clever girl.” – Robert Muldoon, Jurassic Park

Peace out,

Maverick

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Lucien’s Review: Batman: The Killing Joke

batman-the-killing-jokeOne of the biggest comics of all time has finally been made into a movie.  I’m honestly surprised it took this long.  It’s probably the most well-known of Alan Moore’s comics, and for good reason.  The visuals, the incredibly dark story, and the cryptic ending that a lot of people have had some very interesting discussions about.  It’s all very cool, and while I’m not a comic book person, even I have to respect the classics such as that.  This film was created in the vein of the best of that.  At least, when it was telling the story of the comic.  When it wasn’t, this movie has one of the most surreal subplots that goes from 0-60 in a nanosecond.  It was seriously so jarring that I was given whiplash.  I don’t get how this movie was able to do this.  They could have easily followed the plot of the comic and it would have been a short but sweet film.  Most of my review, in fact, is going to focus on that subplot, because it is such a problem.  But let’s get down to the nit and grit first.

I won’t give a plot summary.  If you know anything about Batman comics, you already know what it is.  Joker is getting his dander up about fucking with Batman’s day, by putting a bullet into Barbara Gordon’s back and terrorizing her father.  That should have been all of the plot, but nope!  Still not where I want to be to talk about the biggest flaw in this movie, so let’s get some other stuff out of the way.

The animation of this movie isn’t superb, which is a little strange.  I may not always like the movies from WB Animation, but I have always seen their animation as spot-on.  It’s really something.  Especially the action sequences.  For the flaws of the films from this studio, the slick action has always been something that I have enjoyed.  And to this movie’s credit, when it wants to shine, it does.  But it’s just so ho-hum the rest of the time.  It’s kind of like a typical episode of Batman: The Animated Series.  My biggest problem with this episode takes pretty much the runtime of an average episode of that series, so maybe it fits.

When it comes to the acting, we got some of the best.  We got Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill reprising their iconic roles, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  The girl who played Batgirl is also pretty good.  I think they even got the butler from The Animated Series too..  That was a nice touch.

But now we get to the part that I want to talk about.  This isn’t really one movie.  It’s a movie and an episode of The Animated Series.  The first 28 minutes of this film is literally some other movie.  It has absolutely ZERO connection to the events that follow it.  None.  It tells the story of a case surrounding a man who has a creepy obsession with Batgirl.  This plot has zero relevance to what happens later.  Absolute zero.  You could cut it out of the film and it wouldn’t hurt a thing.  I am just trying to understand why it is in here.  For real, why?  I’m about to spoil this subplot, but since it does absolutely zip to affect the rest of the film, that doesn’t do any damage.

What’s more, it’s a strange as fuck subplot too.  You have this guy who is obsessed with Batgirl.  Okay.  You have Batgirl and Batman investigating, and there being some tension between the two.  Okay.  Then you find out from Barbara talking to her gay friend that she is into some guy who is an authority figure in her life.  Gee, I wonder who that is.  Okay.  This is the kind of stuff that really should have been spaced out more.  You have what would be two or three episodes worth of personal exploration in the series that this animation is riffing on condensed into 15 minutes of plot.  The pacing of this little “episode” is just nuts!  There is something about how Batgirl won’t know what it is to be in her position unless she goes to the edge.  Alright.  Then sex!  Wait, what?  As I said, 0-60 in a nanosecond.

The choices done in making this part of the film just baffles me.  Why do this?  The plot of “The Killing Joke” is all you need.  For real, that’s it.  All you’d have to do is have that plot.  The movie would be half an hour shorter, sure, but whatever.  Why add this on when it literally goes nowhere and once it’s done you are basically told to forget about it.  Hell, the movie even tells you to forget about it.  With some stupid narration that opens and closes the “episode,” you as an audience member are told to forget about it.  It is impossible for me to fathom why this choice was made.  It brings the pace of this movie to a grinding halt and leaves you feeling like your time was wasted because the film even tells you that it was meaningless.  I don’t get this.  It’s pissing me off.  Part of me wishes that there was some whole other movie made to explain this, because you are basically force-fed through exposition that Barbara is into Batman.  Where did this come from?

This has NOTHING to do with the whole “bat-sex” thing that so many critics like Angry Joe got on.  I don’t care about that.  If B-man and B-girl want to get their freak on, that’s fine.  But I need to care about it.  I need to care about why this is happening.  But I don’t.  It’s packed into another movie that has NOTHING to do with this plot.  That’s my problem here.

All in all, this isn’t a bad movie.  For real, when we get to the part that is the namesake of this movie, it’s actually pretty good.  However, to get there, we have to wade through a subplot that is like a drive-by episode of The Animated Series.  After a year of bad DC films, I was really hoping that this would be the one to make it all better.  But nope.  It was just another so-so movie to add to the pile.  And all thanks to that retarded subplot.  What a shame.

Final Verdict
6 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s First Take: Suicide Squad – Official Trailer

When I first saw the trailer for the new Deadpool movie, I was in love.  A superhero movie that eschews this family-friendly bullshit in favor of sick action, violence, and having a sense of humor.  That was awesome!  I am so stoked to see it next month.  Three weeks away, people.  Now, when I saw the last trailer to this film, I was unimpressed.  It was the Joker’s line that did it.  I still can’t take the visual design of this character seriously, but that line, “I’m not gonna kill you.  I’m just gonna hurt you really, really bad” just did in the credibility of this character for me.  I mean, come on!  It’s so ridiculous!  How are we supposed to see this character as threatening?  But maybe there was something that I just wasn’t seeing.  Some element of this film that was eluding me.  Now I got my answer.  I can’t wait to talk about it, so let’s look at it first.

I almost squeed with joy.  This looks like so much fun!  Some people are mad about the usage of a song by Queen in there, but I think it went so well.  This movie is fucking bonkers!  And I love it!  Has there been a new trend that’s been started of superhero movies that are violent beyond all reason, and unashamed about being ridiculous?  Ones that can be violent, insane, and not feeling the need to cater to the family-friendly crowd?  Yes?  Well sign me the fuck up!  There is so much to talk about, so let’s do it!

For starters, did I just see Will Smith being charismatic?!  Wow!  It’s been so long since this actor showed that side of himself that I honestly forgot it was there.  Welcome back, bro!  Sure, you decided not to cash in on the Independence Day sequel, but at least you can make up some of that here by having us enjoy you as this character.  But man, that isn’t even important.  Just so much to say!

This song sets everything up perfectly.  As I said, Queen just works here.  You have the insane-asylum approach of this movie set up so well.  They show off characters, making sure that we understand that none of them are people who we want to run into.  These people are villains, which we understand are being sent into a meat grinder because this woman wants a squad of monsters to do her dirty work.  It follows the comic it’s based on in that regard.  But then we get right down to it.

As I said, maybe I can’t take the look of the new Joker seriously, but it’s clear that Jared Leto is putting his all into this performance.  He’s a Joker all his own.  I kind of love that.  He’s not trying to copy Ledger.  He wants to make a new Joker.  Not only do I respect that, but I think it’s gutsy.  I hope it doesn’t end up sucking.  Though I’m not worried.  Everything I’ve seen tells me that this isn’t going to be that.  I could be wrong, but call it a gut feeling, this looks right.

What gets to me most is that this trailer sends a clear message – this movie is bonkers, don’t take it so seriously.  Just like with Deadpool, I love that!  If this is a new trend that is being started, let’s get on this!  I can tell that this isn’t going to be NEARLY as violent as Deadpool, which is a bit of a shame, but it is still hyper-violent and dripping in batty fun.  Speaking of, not a lot of the Bat in this.  Curious.  But he would have just tried to make this all serious.  I don’t want that, and whoever made this trailer didn’t either.

In closing, can’t wait!  You know the funny thing – the movies that I think are going to be the best of this year come out at inopportune times. Maybe it’s telling that the production companies aren’t putting their chips on them?  I think they should have more faith.

Initial Verdict
8 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s First Take: Jared Leto’s Joker

When I saw that DC is trying to follow in Marvel’s footsteps with their own cinematic universe, I was skeptical.  Partly because I think that they are a little late to the party, and partly because I think that the new Superman was boring and Ben Affleck’s Batman will be sup-par.  The new trailer for Batman vs. Superman didn’t help.

When I heard they were making a live action movie based on the Suicide Squad plot, that got me thinking that there might be hope.  Because I just saw a rather enjoyable animated version of the same thing.  Of course, that film had Troy Baker’s absolutely stunning Joker.  For real, he was able to take the reigns from Mark Hamill in a way that I wouldn’t have imagined.  But then, it’s Troy Baker.  If anyone can do it, it’s him.  He’s arguably the best voice actor working today.

When I heard that Jared Leto would be taking the role of the Joker, I was…unsure.  I mean, he’s not really been in anything.  At first, I confused him with the sexiness that was the guy who played the Winter Soldier, but that’s Sebastian Stan.  Yum.  In any case, I didn’t know what to think about this character.  Then they released an image of what he’s going to look like…

Jared Leto JokerBefore we get to talking about this, let me preface what I am about to say by saying that there are plenty of Joker iterations that are unique.  A lot of people gave Troy Baker’s Joker in Arkham Origins shit because they had the Joker in a leather coat was a bad call.  I don’t.  Mostly because, again, Troy Baker.  For real, this guy is just awesome.  But this Joker doesn’t look the part.  AT ALL!

I mean, am I the only person who thinks that those tattoos are just totally unsubtle?  I mean, “damaged”?  Really?  Yeah, that totally isn’t overkill.  Then there’s all the “Ha”s on him.  It’s all so lacking in naunce or uniqueness.  I am cool with the Joker having ink.  No joke, that part doesn’t bother me one bit.  But there are so many unique tattoos to work with!  The Joker is complicated.  He’s strange.  He doesn’t do things for reasons people understand.  If the Joker gets a tat, I always saw it as something absurd, for no reason.  Like Rainbow Dash with her head shoved up her ass or something like that.  Something where you are left wondering why, and then you realize – asking why is not the thing to do.  There is no why.  Then you see a tattoo of Tweety Bird or something.  Just a bunch of absurdity that you can’t help but be amazed and confused by.  That’s the Joker!  Not some skull with a jester hat.  That feels like it was decided by executives who sat around asking – what’s popular with the kids these days?

Then, there’s the fact that this Joker looks like a juggalo.  I’m sure I don’t have to tell you why this bothers me.  Those guys are about as subtle as a brick being dropped on your foot!  Part of what made the Joker such a cool character is the fact that you could never tell what he was thinking.  When he was dangerous, he was really dangerous, but you didn’t see it coming.  You never knew how to feel.  He could sing love songs to Batman, like in this video here.

And then kill people.  No rhyme, no reason.  By the way, the dude who is sporting the look in that short fan film has it down to a fault.  No joke, I’m impressed.  And whoever did the singing voice, you sir, need more work.

All of this being said, let me make one thing clear – I am totally open to Jared Leto blowing us out of the park with an amazing performance.  If he makes a new version of the Joker, then I think it could work.  Plenty of versions have worked.  From the campy Romero Joker, to the mixture of funny and deranged Nicholson Joker, to the quirky violent charm of Hamill’s Joker, and the terrifying darkness of Ledger’s Joker.  All of these are good and different.  If Leto knocks this out of the park, then you know what – I’m happy.  But this look doesn’t impress me.  And if the Joker is sporing the Juggalo look, then I have worries about what Harley’s look is going to be.  If I see Juggalo Harley, I’m done.  No joke, I’m done with this movie.

Your move, DC.

Initial Verdict
4 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Let’s Censor Art, So Nobody Gets Upset! (A response to #ChangeTheCover)

There was a recent issue of Batgirl that came out from DC Comics, which had a cover that ruffled some feathers.  In the interest of continuing to ruffle feathers, I’m going to share it with you.

Batgirl #41 CoverWow, that’s pretty stunning work.  From the look of things, this is an homage to the legendary comic “The Killing Joke,” where the Joker shot Barbara Gordon in the back and paralyzed her.  Who could take issue with this?  It is skillfully done.

In come the SJWs!  Yes, because any amount of freedom and expression is wrong, if the SJW thought police say so!  Because this cover makes Batgirl look weak!  What’s that?  You say that it shows the evil nature of the Joker, who is one of the most insane and evil comic book villains ever?  Oh, he’s a comic book villain, so we should expect him to do evil things?  Well screw all that!  This is PC America, where us moral police have to make sure that nothing you do is even remotely offensive to us!  Your effort to produce a piece of art?  Whatever, loser!  You should never make anything that challenges anybody on any level!  To do that is just wrong!

That should have pissed a lot of people off, but it didn’t.  What is the point of anything that we do if we have to censor every piece of artwork that some vocal minority of easily-butthurt buffoons doesn’t like?  Why should we even try and make anything when people will just cower and apologize for anybody getting upset?  DC caved to the SJWs demands and pulled the alternate cover.  Something that someone worked really hard on, that symbolized the nature of one of the most famous comic book villains in history, and they pulled it because of a few whiny people who can’t handle art.  They issued an apology as well, stating that they don’t want to hurt anyone’s precious little fee-wings.

DC, you are pathetic.  To think that you are so quick to abandon your artistic integrity because of these people.  What’s more, they think this is a good thing!  They think that censorship is something that we should strive for!  These people are so Orwellian that it baffles me.  I genuinely don’t know how to respond to a bunch of people who think that all artistic integrity that they don’t like should go.  What a bunch of fascist pussies!

Can you imagine what would happen if Rocksteady was so quick to abandon their integrity?  Arkham Knight would be some watered-down game that totally insults the effort that has gone in to the series thus far.

I don’t have much more to add to this, honestly.  It offends me that we have a group of people who are pro-censorship and celebrate it.  These people are just as bad as the Fundie Christians who want to censor stuff we gay people in it.  Oh yeah, I went there.  What’s more, they are reaching for every straw they can to avoid saying what they really mean – that it’s all about them not wanting to see Batgirl look even a little bit weak.  It isn’t rape happening in that cover.  Anybody who knows the story of Batgirl, (which is CANON, by the way!) knows that she gets shot in the back and it leaves her paralyzed.  The Joker does this, because it sounds like fun to him and that’s all the justification he needs.  It’s part of the official lore of the character, and if you don’t like that, tough shit!

The progressive-left has gotten so insane.  It’s the 25th anniversary of “The Killing Joke.”  This cover was made to commemorate that.  It is part of the lore of Batgirl that she takes a bullet in the spine.  This isn’t about rape or any of the SJW buzzwords that they love to play to so fucking much.  It’s about telling a story.  Yet here we have,  in the 21st century, a group of people who want art to cater to them.  They want free expression to only be as free as they deem it so.  These people, who have never had to live in the real world (outside academia and San Fransisco), think that anything that doesn’t make them happy deserves to be gotten rid of, and that if you don’t like it – you hate women.  All of these actions are done with that buzz-phrase.  “If you don’t agree with us, you hate women!  Such a canard, and DC caved to it.

Where will it end?  Where will this insanity end?!  When SJWs tried to invade gaming, we drew a line in the sand.  That’s part of the reason that they have gotten so butthurt lately, and are trying to make gamers look like scum to the rest of society.  Gamers fought back, and we won.  Now they are trying to make another segment of society cater to them, so they don’t have to use that brain-thing that they were given and actually think about something.  Because challenging beliefs is wrong!  Don’t like that?  Then you hate women!

See how juvenile and stupid it is?  SJWs – if you don’t like this comic, don’t read it!  Don’t like a video game?  Don’t play it!  Don’t like a movie?  Don’t watch it!  Don’t like that choice?  Then fuck off!

Until next time, a quote,

“Why people can’t go see this terrific movie just because it has this word in it, It just seems so, kinda childish.” -David Ansen, This Film is not Yet Rated

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 Romantic Relationships (In Various Media)

Originally, I was planning on doing a smartass post about how to be a curmudgeon on Valentine’s, or as I like to call it, Single’s Awareness Day.  I may do that yet.  But, there are a lot of great romantic connections that even an incorrigible douche like us can appreciate.  We haven’t limited this to any one medium, because these are our favorites.  They come from film, video games and even a couple books.  These are the relationships that either got us feeling nice, feeling bad or thinking about it long afterwards.  Let me know in the comment’s section which fictional romances got you to think as well.

Tear and Luke10. Tear and Luke
Tales of the Abyss
What I love most about this romance is how believably it grows.  It starts off with Tear genuinely not liking Luke.  She sees him as a whiny and entitled aristocrat who is too ignorant for his own good.  But as the story grows and the two of them are together, she sees him grow and become so much more than he once was.  The two of them are able to see past each other’s fronts and see the real person inside.  There are a lot of genuinely sad moments where they have weakness and don’t want to expose it to the other.  However, that just makes their growth that much more engaging.  How it all ends is a REALLY big feels moment, which makes so much of the game that much better.

Harley and Joker9. Harley and Joker
Batman
As abusive as the dynamic is between these two, there is something about the Joker and Harley’s relationship that is just so fascinating.  Harley Quinn is really one of the Joker’s victims.  He played on her emotions to get her to fall for him.  In a lot of ways, the abusive nature of their relationship is made that much uglier because of how it started.  Harley was originally an intern at Arkham Asylum, but fell for Joker because of his manipulation.  She lost all her care for others and self-worth in order to be with the man who she views as everything in her world.  But, unlike others, I think that there is genuinely something there.  The Joker does have affection for Harley, but he is also a sociopath who goes back and forth from one madness-driven thing to another.  It’s sad but it can be charming.  But when it hurts, it really does as you see just how far Harley will go for her lover.  It was made clearer in Arkham City, when Joker is dying.  Seeing Harley falling apart, it was pretty harsh.  But that was how it was always destined to go in such an unpleasant love.

Lelouch and CC8. Lelouch and CC
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
This was a romance that was all based in subtlety.  CC was the one who gave Lelouch his geass.  At first, the two have a somewhat adversarial relationship, with CC seeing Lelouch as a means to ends unknown.  However, as the story progresses, you see her bonding with him, seeing his resolve and it awakening a fire inside of her that was long-since gone.  Eventually, she confesses seeing him as more than a comrade.  In the first series, the last interaction she has with Lelouch is kissing him, before going off to fight.  She finds him again and helps him regain his memories with another kiss.  From then on, they are significantly closer, but they still keep a kind of distance from one-another, due to their own histories.  I like a relationship where you’re having to wonder just how far the closeness goes.  This series had that in spades, with several of the main character’s relationships, ranging from romantic, friendly and even adversarial.

Kim Possible and Ron7. Kim and Ron
Kim Possible
Mock this if you must, but there was a lot of authentic feeling and good examination of high school relationships in this one.  How Kim and Ron got together even felt authentic.  Having been a loyal friend and comrade to her exploits, Ron Stoppable was probably the best friend a person could ask for.  When he finally realizes that he has feelings for Kim, it is an interesting look into his psyche as he is trying to process it.  Kim initially denies her feelings for Ron, with him being a guy in the place all guys hate – the friendzone.  But he is there for her when she needs him most, showing her that the best guy is right in front of her.  It’s a touching moment.  Plus, it makes Ron a hero for escaping the friendzone.  As the series goes on and you see their relationship develop, there are a lot of good and realistic moments, despite the nature of the series.  They fight, they have issues and at the end, they worry about going off to college and being apart.  It was a cute little couple and it made the show that much better.

Zuko and Mai6. Zuko and Mai
Avatar: The Last Airbender
A lot of people are probably wondering why I didn’t pick Aang and Katara.  It’s simple – I don’t like Katara.  She’s whiny, she’s a crybaby and she isn’t that interesting of a character for the first two seasons.  While I did enjoy the dichotomy of Aang being confused and frustrated with the fact that he kissed her and she doesn’t respond, it wasn’t that interesting of a relationship.  Zuko and Mai, on the other hand, are a very fascinating couple.  Both of them coming from very harsh upbringings, their relationship has a lot of history.  Mai always had a crush on Zuko as a kid, with him being the oblivious little boy (I refuse to believe that there aren’t a few women reading this who know what that’s like).  After he returned from being banished, she rekindled an old flame.  What made their relationship work was how real it felt.  The fights they had were intense!  Their harsh moments were as engaging as their sympathetic moments.  Plus, they actually had a very good break-up and reunion, with her desperate to understand why he left and still showing she cares, even though he hurt her.  It was a nice dichotomy between two very introverted people.

The Amber Spyglass5. Will and Lyra
His Dark Materials (series)
This relationship had some AWESOME build-up!  When Will and Lyra first met, it was a very confrontational event, with Lyra charging out of a building and attacking him.  From there came a very slow building of love that eventually explodes into a mountain of passion.  They are very different people, with Lyra being a silver-tongued devil who is outgoing and Will being a quiet introvert who just happens to have a very quick mind underneath his outward frigid bravado.  The scenes in the series when they bond are intense, with Will talking to Lyra’s daemon, Pantalaimon and conveying his feelings of a deep trust and compassion for her.  She was awake and heard it all.  It expanded in the third book when Will rescues her from Ms. Coulter and finally becomes full-fledged love when they get away from the battle between Lord Asriel’s forces and Heaven’s angels.  They have a romance that feels like young children.  They are exploding with emotion but don’t know what it all means.  They have so much desire but are just kids.  It’s a profound relationship and how it ends is just heart-wrenching.

Holland and Cece4. Holland and Cece
Keeping You a Secret
It’s nice to see that there are getting to be more and more very good depictions of teenage LGBT romance on all sides.  This is one such story.  What I said about Will and Lyra is especially important here.  Holland and Cece are young.  While Cece has had some experience in dating people of the same sex, Holland hasn’t.  It’s a journey of discovery for her.  But there is more than that.  This story also covers what can happen when a girl comes out to her parents.  With Holland, it ends disastrously.  This tests her relationship with Cece all the more, since there is a secret that is being kept in the story, and it is a big one.  This is one of those books that will likely be forgotten in the pantheon of literature that exists right now, but it really shouldn’t be.  I will never understand what it is like to be a teenage girl, especially not one who is attracted to other girls, but I like to think that this book gave me a realistic impression of what it is like.  Definitely worth checking out.

Rachel and Tobias3. Rachel and Tobias
Animorphs (series)
This was one of the most bizarre and engaging relationships that I have ever gotten to read.  This is such a woefully under-appreciated book series that really delved into what it means to be human.  Case and point – the relationship between these two.  Rachel is a girl who starts off as something of an adrenaline junkie.  She has a dark side that grows bigger and bigger as the series goes on.  Tobias is a nothlit, a person stuck in morph.  He was given back his ability to morph by the Ellimist and able to acquire his human self.  He is something of a mystic in the group, seeing things from a side that few people think of or take the time to acknowledge.  The bond between him and Rachel starts out slow but gets stronger and stronger as both see a side to one-another than nobody else does, which makes their attraction grow that much stronger.  Eventually, they become a couple, despite their handicap of a species gap between them.  While it isn’t a key focus on the overall series, when it has its moments, it has them big.  The scene where they kiss for the first time is so damn intense!  They were one of the many odd things about a series that was about as odd as it gets.

Bob and Charlotte2. Bob and Charlotte
Lost in Translation
I read an article once about how the best sex scenes in films are the ones where nobody is getting naked, and there is something to that.  The romance between these two characters is subtle and profound.  For real, there is a real sense of connection that Bill Murray’s and Scarlett Johansson’s characters make.  Both of them, lost in a part of the world that they don’t understand, are trying to find meaning in their place in life.  Bob is getting old, his marriage is rocky and his career is on somewhat of a downward spiral.  Charlotte, meanwhile, is a young woman whose marriage is already falling apart, even though it’s only been three years.  She is all alone in Tokyo, with her husband going off to do his job and other engagements all the time.  The two are in different by very similar places, each trying to figure it all out.  Their romance comes from that insecurity.  The scene where they are just laying in bed and talking about their lives is so emotionally charged that when Bob runs his hand over Charlotte’s foot, it is more powerful than any sex scene in film.  Another film that is woefully under-appreciated, check it out.

And the best romance that I have gotten to see is…

Theodore and Samantha1. Theodore and Samantha
Her
Man is this romance intense.  What makes this work is just how good the portrayals of the characters are.  Theodore is a genuine romantic who loves a woman most for her mind.  Which is good because with Samantha, all she is is a mind.  She is an Operating System that has an evolved AI that grows and feels and learns about the world.  As she is learning more about things, so is Theo about her.  The growth between them is so heart-warming because it feels real.  But, of course, it also comes down to how Samantha was portrayed.  There are few actresses that I would believe could portray this kind of role with the level of passion and depth that Scarlett Johansson has.  She brings a kind of intimacy with her performance that I just don’t think I could have seen from anyone else.  Definitely my favorite actress working today.  But yeah, this romance is powerful, thanks in large part to both sides of the portrayal and the way they wrote the characters.  If you haven’t seen this film, if it’s in theaters around you, do so.  Once it comes on video, make sure to see it then.  Trust me, you won’t regret it.

So, what are your favorite romances?  Bring up Rom-Coms and I will mock you without mercy. 😛

Until next time, a quote,

“Sometimes I think I have felt everything I’m ever gonna feel. And from here on out, I’m not gonna feel anything new. Just lesser versions of what I’ve already felt.”  -Theodore Twombly, Her

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Batman: Arkham Origins

Arkham Origins CoverNow, when I first saw previews for this game, I wasn’t all that excited.  The track record for Origin stories is bad.  Let’s all be willing to admit that.  But, as I got to learn more and more about it, I became more interested.  Ironically, it was the reverse of what happened with Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.  That game, I was interested until I got to learn about it.  That and after the shitty ending to III, I kind of got AC out of my system.  But, with that said, let’s talk about this game.  First thing you should know – it is a very different kind of game from Arkham Asylum and Arkham City.  However, that’s not a bad thing, in this case.  This game is still very fun.  Is it as good as Arkham City (the best in the franchise thus far, I don’t care if you agree with me or not)?  No.  It is more like Arkham Asylum, with a much bigger space to roam around in.  In fact, it is the game with the most space thus far.

So, following my formula, let’s first look at the plot.  One of my little nitpicks is involved with this.  Unlike its predecessors, this game gives you a very short introduction and just throws you into it.  While the other two kind of did that, they both had a premise that was one that you were able to latch onto.  Part of the reason that Arkham City is the best of the series is that it has an amazing opening that gets your blood pumping.  This game doesn’t have that.  In fact, the acts of this game are a little hard to follow.  But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Up front, they say that this game takes place about five years before the events of Arkham Asylum.  I am going to call bullshit on that right now.  Given what I saw in the previous games, along with what characters talked about and how they looked and sounded, this game is, at the very least, ten years prior.  For me, I thought it was 15 or 20, but that’s neither here nor there.  The plot goes that Batman stops Black Mask at Blackgate Prison, only to find out that there are eight assassins who are after him.  He has one night stop them all, and they have one night to kill him.  Meanwhile, there are lots of other of his typical guests who have come to the party.  Since this is an Origin story, they treat it like they are first meeting, and it is handled well.  The scenes where Batman is talking to “Enigma” (before he was The Riddler) were just hilarious.  The clock is ticking while the city is coming apart at the hands of the very worst of those that Batman has had to deal with.  There is one party-crasher, however, who makes things go from bad to worse.  I probably don’t have to tell you who that is.

So, I want to say again that I think that this game is fun.  I have enjoyed it a great deal and having a new studio to work on it didn’t do that much damage.  But, there are a few things that I want to bring issue to that kind of got under my skin.  With open world games, the biggest thing that can work against them is that they don’t feel lived in.  The previous games in the Arkham franchise never suffered from this.  The world was always incredibly detailed and there were lots of conversations with thugs that you could hear, making it so that you were always in-the-know about what was going on.  This game, on the other hand, doesn’t have that.  How they cover it is pretty smart.  They have a really bad blizzard going on, so the people are staying indoors and the detail isn’t that big an issue because the world is covered in white.  It works okay, but it is a bit of an annoyance.

The second major issue I have is that this is supposed to be an Origin story, and yet you have the same gadgets that you did in previous games.  In fact, it feels like most of your toys got an upgrade.  I kept hoping that I would have to really dig into a crime scene and dissect it, to do the detective angle more raw.  It is still cool in this game, don’t get me wrong, but the fact that the toys that were in development in the last game, which takes place (to me) about 15-20 years later, are something you immediately have, it’s kind of a button-issue.

Those are the biggest of my gripes.  So, let’s talk about what I like.  While the over-world environments are not especially detailed, the interior locations are awesome!  Since the game is set on Christmas Eve, the way they use colored lights is just awesome.  The use of color in this game definitely pops.  Since I have it on console, there are sometimes texture pop-in issues, but it isn’t so bad that it got in the way.  The characters all look great too.

Now, another nitpick of mine is that I don’t like the guy they got to replace Kevin Conroy in this game.  With that said, I cannot tell you how much I love Troy Baker’s interpretation of the Joker.  This is a man who has shown his voice-acting chops in three amazing games this year (including this one).  It is clear that he doesn’t just do a role.  He gets into it.  He clearly took some cues from Mark Hamill’s portrayal, because he is faithful to it.  The look of the new character is nice too, but true to its roots.  I cannot tell you how much I like that character.  I also loved the guy they had doing Enigma’s (Riddler’s) voice.  They got the same guy they had in Arkham City, and his snide wit was just too much.  He owns that role, and I hope they keep in for what I feel will be the final installment in this franchise (the sequel to Arkham City).

I also love the boss fights.  Since you are fighting assassin’s in this game, it makes sense that you can’t make many mistakes.  On Hard level difficulty, you have only one or two mistakes you can make, and after that, you’re done!  Let me tell you, the Deadshot final confrontation on Hard was the most nerve-wracking thing that I have ever done.  But my personal favorite boss fight in this game was Copperhead.  How they animated her flexibility was awesome, and they even had some fun with a toxin that she uses on people and having it fuck with Batman.  It is intense!  So much fun.

So, what rating do I give this game?  I didn’t cover half the little nitpicks that I have with it, because I know that that would bore you to tears, but there are some issues.  It is fun, but it is not what its predecessors were.  I know that I shouldn’t judge it next to them, but it can’t be helped.  Arkham City raised the pedestal for a superhero game so high that a prequel could never reach those heights.  But for fans of the franchise, have no fear.  It is a good game and very worth your time.  I think that I have come up with a fair rating to give it.

Final Verdict
8 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick