Saturday, May 01, 2010

I Met a Real Life Comic Book Guy

"Last night's 'Itchy and Scratchy' was, without a doubt, the worst episode ever! Rest assured I was on the internet within minutes voicing my disgust throughout the world."

The Comic Book Guy

This post contains very minor spoilers for Ip Man 2 and Iron Man 2.

Now, I don't have photographic proof so you'll just have to take my word for it on this anecdote. I was at Queensbay Mall yesterday afternoon - and evening - catching Ip Man 2 and Iron Man 2 back to back at the theatre there with Phoebs. After the credits started rolling at the end of Iron Man 2, I made Phoebs stay back with me to catch the a scene which I knew was going to play. It's like a sort of tradition now for Marvel comic flicks to have a post-credits scene. It was there in the first Iron Man flick, putting Ultimate Nick Fury on the big screen for the very first time. It was there in The Incredible Hulk (Ed Norton's one). And there's like 2 different ones in the appalling X-Men Origins: Wolverine in a dirty 20th Century Fox ploy to make viewers go watch the film in cinemas more than once.

Most of the audience in my theatre left right after peoples' names started scrolling upwards on the screen. The only ones who stayed behind and waited were only Phoebs and I, a trio of three girls, miscellaneous people stopped at the exit by a nice usher... and The Comic Book Guy,

The Comic Book Guy
In the flesh!

It's like he walked right out of an episode of the Simpsons! It was a large Chinese guy - I'd guesstimate between 40 and 50 years of age - standing on the aisle and he proclaimed quite loudly and excitedly, to no particular person, "That's next year's movie!"

And when Mjolnir came into focus in that scene, he went "Go Kenneth Branagh!" while looking straight at us. Phoebs insisted that he didn't make eye-contact with her at all and that he really had eyes on me only. Now, for those of you who are unfamiliar with Norse mythology and Marvel comic books, Mjolnir is Thor's hammer, and Thor will be 2011's big Marvel tent-pole film with Kenneth Branagh helming the project as director.

Phoebs thinks that he somehow intuitively recognised me as a fellow geek and was trying to engage me in conversation.

Tell me honestly, everybody - do I really look like a geek? Here's a very recent picture of mine (seeing as I've not shown my face here for awhile now),

Phoebe and I
I'm the one on the left, by the way.

Not at all, right? RIGHT?

Now that guy - everything about him just screamed "GEEK!" and even though he did not have any facial hair or a ponytail, he looks eerily like an Asian clone of the Comic Book Guy. He was overweight and balding, wore a worn-out T-shirt and a shabby pair of shorts and was totally geeking out over the upcoming Thor film in public. The only thing that he and I had in common is that we were both carrying messenger bags, and that proves absolutely nothing, Phoebe. Nothing! I wasn't even wearing my Joker T-shirt yesterday!

Well, I do occasionally feel the urge to educate the average (read: ignorant) cinema-goer about the accuracy of certain films based on comic books and fantasy/sci-fi novels, but never have I did it in such a ham-fisted and potentially embarrassing manner. I don't publicly show off my vast knowledge of pop-culture trivia on a soapbox. I, uh, have a blog for that. Some of you might also point out that I often go to the cinema alone to catch a film, but I have excellent reasons for that. It's just hard for me to fight the urge to see a film I've been anticipating for a long time when I know that it's playing RIGHT NOW.

Watching a film with friends can be swell and all but I find it to be a real hassle sometimes. I'd have to wait till everyone actually wants to watch that film, and a convenient time and date has to be decided upon to make it happen. And in a herd, some philistines folks with tastes differing from mine would usually vote to watch some shit movie other picture playing at the same time. That's so totally uncool. If you ask me, people should defer to my opinions on everything at all times.

Phoebs said, "I really hope you don't look like that guy when you're forty."

Anyway, let me just wrap up this post with a couple of short impressions from the films I saw,

Ip Man 2
Ip Man 2.

It's another blatant nationalistic celebration of the Chinese identity. We get another cartoonishly arrogant and evil foreigner insulting the raw awesomeness that is Chinese kung fu. Then, as expected, Baron von Moustache-twirler gets his ass handed to him by whichever kung fu master the film's about.

Ip Man 2 is basically Jet Li's Fearless set in Hong Kong instead of Shanghai, featuring Wing Chun instead of whatever the hell it was that Jet Li was doing in Fearless. A less charitable description of Ip Man 2 is that it's a clumsy attempt at shoehorning Ip Man's life story into the plot of Fearless.

And it's utterly kick-ass. I've said it before and I will say it again; Donnie Yen is much more charismatic leading man than Jet Li ever was.

The reason anyone goes to see Ip Man 2 is to see Donnie Yen take a whole lot of people apart in a series of fights cobbled together into a semi-coherent narrative. Go read a biography or something if you really want an accurate retelling of the real Yip Man's life - you ain't getting any here. In this sequel to the 2008 martial arts hit, see Ip Man take the Brits by the balls and chain punch them into a stain on the floor. It's slightly better than the first film when it came to depicting Ip Man's vulnerability. In the first film, he was practically invincible. Even in the final fight with the Japanese guy, he didn't even break a sweat. This time around, the British boxer (played like a WWE wrestler by Darren Shahlavi) actually seemed to pose a bit of a threat to our bantamweight hero. Just a bit. Then, after a flashback of himself giving someone else advice on how to defeat the white guy, he made a total comeback and destroyed Shahlavi's character in seconds. I mean, there was literally no one awesome enough to be Ip Man's mentor figure in this movie so he had to be his own mentor. Notable also is Donnie Yen's table-sparring scene with sumo-weight Sammo Hung - which is arguably a more satisfying fight compared to the finale one.

By the way, Donnie Yen also makes cigarette smoking look like a damn cool pastime.

My main gripe about Ip Man 2 is that the emotional payback weren't as satisfying as that one versus 10 Japanese karatekas scene in the first movie. I know it's racist but hey, the least the Japanese people can do to make amends for the Rape of Nanking is to let Donnie Yen punch some of them around for a bit in a movie. Sammo Hung's choreography is just as tight in this film as it was in the first one, and I actually lost count of how many times I said "Holy shit!" at some of the moves I saw.

Iron Man 2 Poster
Iron Man 2.

Best. Movie. Ever.

Just kidding but it's everything you'd expect in a sequel after seeing the first Iron Man. Robert Downey, Jr. is still utterly perfect as Tony Stark. Don Cheadle eased very comfortably into the shoes left behind by Terrence Howard as Lt. Colonel James "Rhodey" Rhodes (the War Machine) - they even hung a hilarious lampshade about it in his entrance in the courtroom scene. Mickey Rourke, proving that The Wrestler was not a fluke, was positively electrifying as Ivan Vanko, the film's primary villain. I love me my husky rumbling Russki baddie. And my girlfriend said that she'd totally marry Scarlett Johansson if she has the chance. I asked her if she's bisexual and what she pretty much said was, "For Scarlett Johansson? I can be anything."

The short of it is this; Iron Man 2 is a thoroughly fun ride. They tried injecting a little angst into the story but it didn't work at all - this ain't a Batman movie. The best bits in the first film were those Tony Stark was inventing in, and as most comic book fans have pointed out, Tony Stark's superpower is really his ability to invent any damn thing. I totally got a kick out of him building a mini particle accelerator in his lab to synthesise a fucking new element. IN A CAVE! WITH A BOX OF SCRAPS!!!

The action bits were a bit frantic and have that been-done-before feel to them. With all the clanging metal parts, I thought I was watching Transformers 3. But it's an Iron Man movie, so it's okay. We all watch it for Tony Stark anyway. The biggest problem most superhero franchises eventually run into is the erosion of their rogues gallery. Take Raimi's Spiderman run for example - after the Green Goblin and Doc Ock went kaput, they had to up the ante somehow and threw in 3 villains in the third flick, none of which had nearly enough screen-time to justify their presence. I shudder to even think of a 4th Spidey flick. It's good that they are taking the franchise through a reboot now.

So verdict on Iron Man 2? Go see.

And I'm kinda amped up now for the 2011 Thor film after seeing the post-credit scene. I'm not a fan of Marvel's Thor, but hey, Anthony Hopkins is playing Odin! This, I got to see.

P.S. This post is in no way aimed at denigrating geeks. I love the geek culture and is a proud member of the community. I just don't want to end up looking like a cartoon caricature of one.

Part-time geek,
k0k s3n w4i


- yuhhui - said...

Haha.. you don't look like a geek, no worries. =) ooh.. Iron Man is good huh? Perhaps you could write a review on both movies? Because we have to travel to Mangalore to watch it.. and i want to make sure that it's worth while..tho i doubt they would release Ip man here in Mang. =(

~*caryn*~ said...

heya, how long did you have to wait before the thor scenes were shown? i watched iron man 2 last night, and it was like 5 seconds into the credits when it was abruptly cut to that scene, then when that scene ended it cut right back to the credits again. was it supposed to be like that?

k0k s3n w4i said...

- yuhhui -: this is about as close as i will come to reviewing the two films - s'not like they really need anymore publicity anyway. as a rule, i only review movies that i really love or really hate, and films that ought to be seen by more people. anyhow, iron man 2 will not be worth the trip to mangalore for many people. i'd make the trip though but i'm a huge cinema fan.

~*caryn*~: we waited till two songs finished playing before the scene came up. i think your reel might have been altered. it is called the POST-credits scene after all :)