Uncategorized

A Silent Voice (2016)

I was gonna do a whole bit. Japan showing up at my door in defiance of the restraining order I slapped on it in the last animé review I did and slowly winning me over today’s movie…

Not gonna do that. Not least because, I feel like kind of an asshole. Even if it’s just for comic effect (And it was. Mostly.), the idea of just writing off a nation’s artistic output in an entire genre because of one bad experience…or two, or three…okay look, animé hasn’t had a great batting average on this blog I’m getting off track. That was an awful thing to suggest, even if I was joking. Which I was. Mostly.


Mysterious Girlfriend X is still garbage, that will never change.

This movie is one that I’ve had on the backburner for years (I think it’s one of the Mauricio reviews? Fuck is it one of the Joanna reviews?!). And even though I had seriously intended to take a good long break from animé after the MGX review I couldn’t in good conscience put this off any more so I sat down to watch it, as they say, with a bit of a hump.

And around an hour in I’m trying to remember the last time a movie affected me this deeply on an emotional level and I’m coming up blank.

Guys, this one hollowed me out and didn’t even break a sweat. This is the real deal. Fair warning, this review deals with bullying, suicide and depression and I’m not going to be making a lot of jokes. It’ll be a bit of a gear-shift from Deadpool, put it that way. This is just going to be talking about a movie that really got to me.

(more…)

“A fourth wall break inside a fourth wall break? That’s like…sixteen walls!”

If you like Unshaved Mouse please consider supporting my Patreon.

When it comes to the various eras of comics history, the nineties have an image problem.

Get it? Because Image comics were terrible.

And that’s not fair. Not fair at all. There were some fantastic comics released during the nineties. Jeff Smith’s seminal Bone came out in this decade. You had Neil Gaiman writing Sandman over at DC. And at DC, the Batman titles were doing memorable storylines like No Man’s Land and Long Halloween. Meanwhile, at DC, Mark Waid and Alex Ross were creating one of the most visually beautiful mainstream comics of all time with Kingdom Come

“Hey, Mouse, what about Marvel?”

“…”

“HELLBLAZER WAS ANOTHER VERY WELL RECEIVED DC TITLE DURING THIS PERIOD…”

And yet, despite some very good comics being produced during this era by almost half of the two great American comic publishers, “nineties” is basically short-hand for “crap” amongst comics fans. Here’s the problem. Say I want to sum up the Golden Age of comics with one panel, it’d probably be this one:

Kirby’s cover of Captain America 1. If had to choose a panel to represent the Silver Age? Probably something like this from Sheldon Moldoff (if for no other reason than it doesn’t seem fair to have Jack Kirby define two eras):

And if I want a single panel that sums up the Bronze Age? That’s easy, Rorschach entering the Comedian’s apartment by Dave Gibbons.

But if I want a single panel that represents the Dark Age? Probably something like this.

And that’s your problem right there. All these eras were incredibly diverse in terms of the comics that were actually created during them, but they’re all defined in the popular consciousness by a single aesthetic. And the aesthetic that defines the nineties, whether fairly or unfairly, is that of one man. Rob Liefeld.

And it’s pretty objectively terrible. Now, this review is not going to be me dunking on Rob Liefeld for five thousand words because obviously I’d need more words and I don’t like to half-ass things NO BAD MOUSE.

I’m not going to dunk on Liefeld because that’s just beating the fine horse powder that at some point in the distant past was (if the elders are to be believed) a dead horse. Hell, making fun of Rob Liefeld was pretty much the reason we built the internet in the first place (don’t believe the porn industry’s revisionist propaganda). Liefeld was one of a rising generation of new comic artists in the nineties, and that generation was markedly different from the ones that had come before. See, if you look at the really big names of the Silver Age, your Stan Lees, your Jack Kirbies, your Julie Schwartzes, you’ll notice that these were all dudes who had were already working in comics during the Golden Age. The Silver Age was not the New Guard taking over, it was the Old Guard refining and improving on their first draft. But by the nineties, the Old Guard was ageing out of the industry and rising to replace them was a generation that had actually grown up reading the classic comics of the Silver Age and actually had “comic book writer/artist” as their dream job rather than simply something to fall back on if that career in publishing/fine arts never panned out. These kids, unlike their forbears, had come to the comics as fans rather than just professional artists or writers who needed a steady gig. They had read all these comics when they were twelve year old boys and dreamed of creating their own.

Unfortunately, if you read the comics they were putting out, you would have been forgiven for thinking that they were still twelve year old boys. Liefeld wasn’t the only one of this generation, but he definitely epitomised them. Much as the Impressionists were identified by their use of open composition and an accurate depiction of light, the artists of the “Hot Comics” style were identifiable by blood, guts, gratuitous swearing and a…free-thinking…approach to accurate depictions of female anatomy. They also freaking idolised Jack Kirby which I find BAFFLING. Not because Jack Kirby doesn’t deserve to be idolised (and I got the shrines to prove it) but because Jack Kirby is legendary for:

  1. Technical excellence.
  2. Clarity of visual storytelling.
  3. A fearsomely original imagination.
  4. A work ethic that allowed him to smash deadlines like they’d been cracking wise about Mrs Kirby.

Basically, everything Liefeld and his ilk were not about. So you had a lot of talentless fanboys creating comics that only had merit to clueless, hormonally addled infants. So, of course, they were hugely, horrendously successful.

This thing sold five million copies and there’s bile in my mouth right now.

Liefeld is in this weird space of being simultaneously one of the most and least influential creators in the history of the medium. As I said, his style defined an entire era of comics history in a way very few other creators can be said to have done. Honestly, I think only Kirby rivals him in that regard. But whereas Kirby’s legacy on both the Marvel and DC universes will stand the test of time, very little of Liefeld’s influence remains in the modern Marvel universe. Certainly not his art-style, and precious few of his intellectual concepts proved to have any real staying power. Mostly because, well, his character concepts were possibly the only thing in the world that could have made you say “Jeez dude, just stick to art.”

“But Mouse” the strawman I have created for this very purpose cries out “didn’t he create Deadpool? Isn’t Deadpool a beloved character and permanent fixture in the Marvel universe?”

Well, the answer to both those question is indeed “Yes” but there’s a lot of history between the first “Yes” and the second. Liefeld did indeed co-create Deadpool with writer Fabien Nicieza but the character they created was impressive only in how much they managed to rip off in one sitting. So Deadpool, aka Wade Wilson is an “homage”…

…to DC’s Deathstroke aka Slade Wilson. See? It’s completely shameless. That makes it okay. They then added Spider-Man’s costume as imagined by a Taiwanese supermarket, threw in Wolverine’s healing factor because nineties, strapped a couple of guns on him and set him loose on the world. I’m not saying there weren’t the germs of a good character there, but they were just that, germs. Capable of only being seen with a microscope.

It was other writers that saw the potential in the character and added the elements that really made him click, most notably that he’s insane and that this insanity manifests in him actually being aware that he’s in a comic book. This is the version of the character that has won legions of fans the world over, including Canada.

One of said fans was actor Ryan Reynolds who is a huge Deadpool fan and was so gosh darned happy to be cast as the character in Wolverine Origin only to learn that this Deadpool would be a mute with his mouth sewn shut and THIS IS WHY WE DON’T MAKE WISHES ON CURSED MONKEY PAWS CHILDREN.

After Origins came out and did for Deadpool’s reputation what Superfriends did for Aquaman’s, Reynolds laboured with various collaborators to get his own vision of Deadpool to the big screen, with blackjack and hookers as God intended.

This movie almost died on the operating table multiple times. Consider:

  1. It’s about Deadpool, a character no one outside of comics fandom knew about unless they’d seen Origin in which case they hated him. Strike 1.
  2. Instead of being rebooted, he was still being played by the same actor. Strike 2.
  3. Said actor also made Green Lantern. Strike 3. Actually, let’s make that two strikes. Strike 4.
  4. This was going to be a Hard R rated movie full of tits and effin’ and jeffin’, likely to send dowagers across the land toppling in a epidemic of the vapours. Strike 5.

So, on paper at least, this movie was going to suck at baseball and Fox were considering scrapping the movie when somebody, some mischevious scamp, some mysterious rapscallion who shall remain forever nameless…

…leaked some test footage that saw the cry of “SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!” echo throughout the internet.

(more…)

When I was 36, it was a very good year…

At the end of last year I professed some wary optimism that, if current trends held, 2019 might end up being a good year.

I did not expect that 2019 would ride up on a snowy white horse, place a single finger on my trembling lip, whisper “You deserve better than this, let me treat you right” and whisk me away to a world of adventure and romance.

2019 has been the best year of my life since 2012, a year which saw my wedding, the birth of my daughter, a play of mine getting a staged reading in the Abbey, the launch of this blog and the world not ending due to Mayan calendar magic. Guys, it has been a trip.

So let’s start small and work our way up.

 

The Reviews

So in 2019 I reviewed 1 Canon Disney movie, 2 Disney sequels, 1 MCU movie, 2 X-Men movies, 1 Studio Ghibli film, 4 live action movies, 3 non-Disney animated features, 2 animated series…

…and Mysterious Girlfriend X who has to sit over here away from the others.

2019 also saw the launch of my new feature, Bats versus Bolts, which you can probably tell how much I love because I did it four times over the year.

Counting each BvBs as two movies because it’s my blog and who among you has the power to stop me, that’s 23 movies reviewed, 2 TV series…

…and Mysterious Girlfriend X.

Best movie I reviewed this year was Frankensteinworst (in a pleasing symmetry) was Van Helsing.

 

Novel Fair

The year got off to a great start when my novel, The Caspian Sea, was selected for Novel Fair at the Irish Writer’s Centre. 12 Novelists are selected and then locked in a room with 12 agents and publishers in a brutal no holds barred battle royal. By which I mean, you sit down with each of them and have five minutes to pitch your book. But in a brutal, no holds barred way. And while I didn’t land an agent at Novel Fair it was a fantastic experience where I got to meet lots of great writers and publishing nobs.

 

BBC Writer’s Room

Because The Caspian Sea has basically been holding my brain hostage for almost a decade now I also have a screenplay version that I submitted to the BBC Writer’s Room. Didn’t get in, unfortunately, but I made it to the final 35 out of 4000 applicants and got to visit the Beeb in London, where I got to see THIS:

You cant go in, unfortunately. Couple of Daleks got trapped in there and went completely feral.

 

Got an Agent

Oh yeah, this was a big one. In the early summer I had the privilege to be signed by Jennie Goloboy of the Donald Maas Literary Agency. A literary agent basically does all the things a writer does when trying to get published, like sending off manuscripts and enquiry letters to publishers. The difference being that when the agent does those things, the publishers actually care. It’s actually amazing how much more willing people are to look at your stuff when you’re agented. It’s like that episode of The Simpsons where Homer joins the Stonecutters.

 

The End of Sharuf

This one was bittersweet. After 2 years of YouTubery my brother John, me and my Dad George decided that we just couldn’t commit the time to Sharuf that it deserved. You can see our final farewell below.

 

And lastly…

Micro-Mouse was born last month and he is a really cool guy.

 

So yeah, 2019 was pretty good to me. I hope it was good to you. Have a wonderful New Year guys.

See you in the twenties. Who’s up for running a liquor racket and taking on Capone for control of Chicago?

And to all a good night…

A very warm welcome to new patron Veratrin Dye, the substance over which innumerable guild wars will be fought over in the far distant stellar empires of the future.

And to all of you a very Merry Christmas from the Mouse family. Look after yourselves. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve been challenged to a trivia game by my extended family.

Wish me luck…😈

And yet more!

Dang, I don’t know what I’ve been doing lately to have everyone make it rain up in here but here is ANOTHER new patron! Well, I say new.

Erik Copper is a longtime friend of the blog, was my voice for a brief period and is the long lost scion of an inter planetary race of sentient elements.

New Patrons!

Hi guys, give a warm welcome to our three newest patrons!:

Mackenzie Macklin returned from the Pacific a shattered husk of her former self and set up of a PI firm in post war Los Angeles.

Calagon 1 is an obscure but well-regarded Autobot from the Generation 1 line who is notable for being the first and so far only Transformer where the robot turns into another robot.

Peter Mousseau, Co-Prince of Andorra from 1957 to 1968.

Thanks for your support!

Boris.

Boris.

Boris.

Boris? Boris!

Boris. Boris. Boris.

Boris…

Boris. Boris! BORIS?! BORIS?!!

Boris.

BORIS.

Boris? Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris Boris..

BBBBBBBBBBBOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

Boris.

Jeeves and the Brexit Spirit

I don’t know if you’ve ever had the experience of having a perfectly topping morning yanked out from under you so hard it makes your teeth rattle? Only the other day I awoke to find the sun beaming down on God’s creation, the birds outside the window giving it their best and Jeeves appearing by my bedside with a tray of eggs, bacon, buttered toast, morning paper and a rather promising looking pot of coffee. In a word, everything that would make a chappie think that this day was going to be a good ‘un, possibly a great ‘un.

But then, just as I had opened negotiations with the bacon I caught a glance of something in the newspaper which caused me to inhale so sharply that before I knew where I was the bacon was bouncing around my left lung, no doubt in a state of some anxiety. Jeeves, ever with the keen eye, noticed the young master’s distress and applied a couple of hearty, congratulatory smacks to the upper posterior which dislodged the misplaced breakfast and after a few minutes of fluent coughing I was in a decent enough state to tell him that it was too bally much.

“Jeeves!” I said “It’s too bally much!”

“Sir?” he said, concerned and, I fancy, deeply moved by the depth of my passion.

“They’ve only done it again!” I wailed “Compared me to another one of these dashed brexiteers!”

I showed him the offending article, which made the case that one of these coves (Reese-Mogg, Jonson, Farage, Smithering-Finnickhan, I forget which) was practically your humble narrator’s identical twin and implying that there was no worse insult that could be levied and still printed in a respectable newspaper. Well, I mean to say, what?

Jeeves seemed furious. Practically incandescent with rage. By which I mean, I fancied I saw him raise his eyebrow a sixteenth of an inch.

“Most disturbing, sir.”

“There’s nothing for it, I’ll have to sue!”

“I would advise against that, sir. Cases relating to libel rarely result in favourable outcomes.”

“But dash it, I have to do something!”

Those who know me will tell you that Bertram is not thin-skinned. Far from it. In fact I rather think that, when it comes to skin, I yield to no animal except perhaps a particularly resilient rhinoceros. It could scarcely be otherwise with the family that Providence has seen fit to afflict me with. Well do I remember the time my Aunt Dahlia recounted how she had once saved me from choking as a small child and how she now considered that, not a crowning moment of heroism, but one of the great blunders of a long life. And she, I remind you, being the Aunt who actually likes me.

But I mean to say, what’s a lad to do when one’s very name has become an epithet and short-hand for the nation’s premier blisters? Hath not a Bertram eyes? If you tickle a Wooster, does he not tell you to pack it in and stop acting like an ass? I say my name has been dragged through the mud quite enough, and if no one shall speak in Bertram’s defence, then Bertram must. So here it is.

(more…)

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)

Back in the thirties, they laughed when Walt Disney said that he was going to make a feature length animated film. “Oh, how quaint” the fat studio execs chortled through solid walls of cigar smoke as they sat stewing in their leather-bound rooms “The little cartoon man thinks he can make movies”.

The little cartoon man then proceeded to make Snow Whiteone of the most successful movies of all time. Then, a decade later, Disney announced that he was branching out into live action movies.

“Oh how quaint” the fat studio execs chortled through solid walls of cigar smoke as they sat stewing in their leather-bound rooms “The little animated feature man thinks he can make movies with real people”.

At which point Disney fixed them with a steely glare and said “Okay, just for that? I’m going to own you. All of you. It may take decades but I now dedicate my every waking moment to ensuring that one day, everything you own will belong to me. Every movie you’ve ever made, every studio, every piece of merchandise, every character. You sneeze, I will own the dirty hankie. Every red cent you ever earn will one day BELONG TO WALTER ELIAS DISNEY SO I SWEAR ON THE OLD GODS AND THE NEW.”

And they chortled at that because some motherfuckers never learn, do they?

An important step on Disney’s path to total global conquest were their live action films of the 1950s. These were usually classic tales of derring do from literature dressed up real nice with a few catchy songs. Probably the best remembered film of this era was 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, based on Jules Verne’s staggeringly prophetic novel about how big an impact submarines were going to have on all our lives.

Leagues marked something of a watershed moment for Disney’s live-action fare as it was the first Disney film to get a really top-tier cast with household names like Kirk Douglas, Peter Lorre and James Mason. In fact, even though Disney had already made several fairly successful live action movies at this point, Kirk Douglas needed quite a bit of coaxing, with his part being substantially altered at his request.

“Okay, so Ned Land should be introduced with two hotties on either arm.”

“Fine.”

“And he has to win every fight he’s in!”

“Fine.”

“And everytime he’s not onscreen, everyone should be wandering around going “Where’s Ned? Where’s Ned?”

“Fine.”

“And I want my son to play Ant-Man!”

“That is a WEIRD ask, but okay.”

As director, Walt hired director Richard Fleischer, much to Fleishcer’s surprise as he was the son of Max Fleischer, Disney’s long-time rival.

“Don’t you hate him?”

“Richard my boy, I keep my friends close, my enemies closer and the people my enemies care about in the same building where I work. Under armed guard.”

“Ah. So. Am I a director or a hostage?”

“The job calls for you to fill several roles.”

(more…)