Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Cat with the Ruby Quartz Lenses

Most comic book fans of color understand the dichotomy between Professor Xavier's dream and Magneto's nationalism. Stan Lee has always claimed that he took this debate between both mutants from MLK and Malcolm X. In the last few years, Professor Xavier has allowed the reins of the X-Men to be handled by his protege, Cyclops. Magneto has once again joined the ranks of the X-Men and although he feels that his nationalistic approach is the best way to resolve the mutant issue, Magneto had realized that he is much older and not as powerful as he used to be. Considering the events that took place after the House of M, Magneto understand there is strength in numbers.

Cyclops, however, has taken steps that have bought him closer to Magneto's vision of the future of mutantkind. After the House of M, mutantkind has been reduced to a population of under 200. Cyclops decided to abandoned the school in upstate New York for an island off the coast of San Francisco they dubbed Utopia. It is on this island, that mutants have become an actual sovereign nation which Cyclops has vowed to protect by any means necessary. Although Cyclops continues to use the X-Men to stop all kinds of threats to humanity, he finds that his primary directive is to protect what remains of mutantkind with pre-emptive strikes. As Cyclops has taken more of a militaristic stance during several events, many mutants such as the Beast and Wolverine have parted ways claiming that Cyclops is stomping all over Xavier's dream. At one point, Wolverine takes several mutants with him to reopen Xavier's school in New York.

Enter Hope Summers and the Phoenix Force. Despite the misgivings of Captain America, the Avengers, and some mutants, mutantkind was saved. Cyclops was right in his assessment: the Phoenix Force could be used to revitalize mutantkind. Although Cyclops overstepped his boundaries and betrayed some of his teammates, he took a chance for his peoples and it worked.

I like this Scott Summers.

Before the House of M, I never liked Cyclops. I felt he was the weak link. So what he has optic blasts that can tear down a building. One punch to the grill and he was down for the count. He was always bossy and never seemed to want to have fun. Should we blame Cyclops for this? Remember, Professor Xavier groomed him to be a leader. He groomed him to be the one to take the mantel when Xavier either met his end or retired. Cyclops lost his parents to hostile aliens and ended up having to take care of his brother. He grew up way too early. So his entire life has been dedicated to helping his people. So it makes sense that Cyclops is all work and no play. He is in a position to make decisions that affect many people and the future of his race. Of course, he will take his position very seriously. While his decisions during AVX are questionable, his gamble proved right.

Now Cyclops is a fugitive and has decided to go Magneto's route of collecting oppressed mutants around the world, train them, and maintain their sovereign status. Check All New X-Men by Brian Michael Bendis to check the latest.

Too many people are running around lamenting how Cyclops has turned into the biggest butthole in comicdom. I disagree. His political trajectory makes sense. It's important to remind folks of what Cyclops has been through. He lost his parents at a young age and had to take care of his brother. He spent most of his adolescence fighting with a power he could not control. When he became an X-Man, he was immediately dubbed the group's leader. Despite that, he was alone. Bobby Drake still had his family and his privileges as did Jean Grey. The Beast had his intelligence to fall back on and he was even able to become an Avenger. Cyclops had no where to go. The X-Men was it for him. He couldn't quit.

Here is the thing: it all fits. Cyclops has done well for himself. Let's be real, he pretty much saved mutantkind. On top of that, he realized that he has made some horrible decisions and wants to make amends for that. While folks like Magneto and Emma Frost have taken his side without hesitation, Cyclops has reined in their excesses.

True, folks like the Beast and Wolverine have remained adamant about their opposition to Cyclops. With the Beast we have to ask, "what have you done for mutantkind lately?" Logan isn't an angel either. Let's not talk about the skeletons in his closet. So they are really not in the position to question Cyclops motives.

At the end of the day, I gets down with Cyclops.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Man With the Iron Fist
Directed and Co-written by The RZA
Co-written by Eli Roth

Before I go any further, I want to remind our readers that I came up in NYC during the Reagan era. Like the Wu-Tang Clan and many of their peers, I came up on a heavy dose of Shaw Brothers movies, 120, hip-hop culture, blunts, and 40s. So when the Wu-Tang Clan jumped on the scene way back in 1993 and bum rushed the music industry, it was like 1988 all over again. To many who did not live in that time and place, the Wu-Tang was a breath of fresh air. When I heard that the RZA was directing and writing a Martial Arts movie, I was just as excited as any fan.

In the last decade, many Martial Arts movies from the east have been given major distribution deals in the United States and have garnered rave reviews from the hardest of critics. Some were awesome and some were horrible. As someone who grew up watching the Shaw Brothers and later purchasing bootleg copies of the epic kung fu flicks that came out of Hong Kong in the 90's, it takes a lot to impress me. While I didn't expect the RZA to garner any awards for his screen writing, I hoped that a Martial Arts flick under his tutelage would be great.

As soon as the movie began, I realized I was dead wrong. I tried to give it a chance. Maybe the story would be okay. Once again, I was wrong. I wondered if maybe the movie was a parody, but the RZA was dead serious.

My first gripe is that all of the main characters had the corniest of names. The leader of the Lion clan is: Golden Lion. Yes, he sported the Flinstones gold mane. His lieutenant was (drum roll please): Silver Lion. The RZA was just the Black Smith (it's not until later that we learn that his name is actually, Thaddeus - how antebellum). The Black Smith's girlfriend just happen to be a whore named Lady Silk. They all lived in the Jungle Village. I had to check my calendar. It is 2012 right?

If you thought the names of the characters were something thought up while sitting on the toilet, the dialogue was atrocious. "I am Mr. Knife, but you can call me Jack!" Exclaimed Jack Knife played by Russell Crowe who does a decent job playing the white savior (Geez, RZA you even had the British save all the colored folk).

I think what made the movie unbearable is that the RZA narrated many of the scenes. As an MC on a track, his voice sounds pretty dope. That doesn't mean that it should be used to narrate a movie. I think this was a terrible mistake on his part. He should have had someone else do this. If he was looking for a street edged type of narration there are so many people he could have used for this.

So I hoped that maybe the fight scenes would be off the chain. I mean, the RZA grew up on the Shaw Brothers too, right? Not even the fight scenes were mediocre. I gagged when I watched the Gemini clan fight the oh so fearsome Lion clan. The Gemini Female (once again that is her name) stood upside down atop the Gemini Male. Oh, the enemy was so scared. They stood this way for a good 5 seconds before fighting.

Again, I didn't expect the RZA to write an epic masterpiece such as Fearless or the Five Deadly Venoms. I did expect the RZA to put something together that stood apart from overrated movies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I was hoping to see some phenomenal choreography at the least. Unfortunately, the RZA fell short on so many levels.