A New Media Channel. By Fans, For Fans.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Ant-Man: Movie (2015) | Guest Appearing on Superhero Cinephiles Podcast

Ant-Man

From the episode's page, because Perry covered it really well, "This week, Perry is joined by video editor and writer Eddie Thomson of Why We Watch to discuss 2015’s Ant-Man! We discuss the long road this movie took to getting made, from Edgar Wright’s long involvement in the project, switching over to Adam McKay and eventually landing in the hands of Peyton Reed. We also talk about how the heist film aspect helps set this apart from the rest of the MCU and why not every movie needs to end in some world-ending threat." 

You can listen here, there are direct links to Spotify and Apple below, and all my guest appearances are on a Spotify playlist here.
SpotifyApple Podcasts

For people interested in talking with Perry, see what's available to discuss and his contact form.

Our discussion on the Nick Spencer comics is a Patreon exclusive. Re-reading them years later was not entirely what I expected, and that's one of the things that we talk about. It was a great experience though, and it inspired me to cobble together a variant cover for one of the issues.


Ant-Man Variant Cover
Ant-Man Variant Cover

Like the Doctor Strange poster, this was done with re-used assets in Blender, and then it was finished in Photoshop. The main challenge was laying out and rendering the apps separately and posing Scott. The main issue with Scott is it's an FK rig, so the arms and fingers had to be rotated individually, instead of if it had been an easier-to-pose IK setup. Also I’m sure the scale is ridiculous, but I wanted to balance readability of the phone with showing some background, and perspective is hard.

The room is by Fluza.
The phone is by smartbo.
The app icons are by prelightmedia, except the bomb I think is this one by Francesco Milanese.
Ant-Man is by danntzc, and I like that he made one that's different from the movie design.
Logos are direct from Marvel.
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Friday, July 22, 2022

Amazing Spider-Man: Family Business (2014) | Graphic Novel

A plain-clothes Peter Parker is nearly captured by private military contractors. That's weird. He's able to escape capture with the help of his long-lost sister, Teresa Parker. That's weirder. And now they need to go globe-trotting to stop The Kingpin. If this story threw many more curveballs, there's a chance people might've checked out, but it doesn't. Instead, it just gets more enjoyable to read and, frankly, just stare at because of the artwork. Amazing Spider-Man: Family Business is part of an Original Graphic Novel line called Marvel OGN, so it's like a longer, self-contained, single-issue. It's written by Mark Waid and James Robinson, painted and covered by Gabriele Dell'Otto, and penciled by Werther Dell'Edera.

The best thing about stories that go off the rails is that it makes buying into ones like this pretty easy. We don't need to forgive "Sins Past," or anything like, but we should give them a bit of a break because of what they allowed future writers to get away with.  Plus long-lost siblings reveal themselves in comics, Law & Order: SVU episodes, and even our world all the time. Waid and Robinson do introduce the story gently though, with a standard, but very entertaining, crime-in-progress. 

Spider-Man Hijacking
The only, very minor, art complaint I can think of is that there's usually another panel and speech balloons on top of iconic shots like this one | Copyright 2014 Marvel

Peter stumbles onto a truck that's full of shop-lifted laundry detergent, intended to be resold to wholesalers, and then smaller retailers. We get great quips, like "Stop in the Name of Mr. Clean," great panels, and a good sense of where this Spider-Man is right now. No Parker industries, so this is the only way to keep Family Business somewhat grounded. 

Once the main story kicks off with Teresa's introduction, they're quickly "Jason Bourne-ing," as Peter calls it, to places like Monte Carlo, Switzerland, and Cairo. 

As a fan of the show Archer, Monte Carlo was easily my favorite destination. It took a few minutes to confirm, but someone somewhere will rest easy knowing that Peter and Sterling Archer both don't know the first thing about Baccarat. At least they both clean up nicely. 

Personally, I recommend "college rulesBlackjack. If you can't count cards, just be the last person dealt and pray only one deck is in use | Copyright 2014 Marvel

They're there to get information to lead them to their parents' safe house. They're nearly stopped by a villain named Cyclone, and I really like the way his suit is analyzed. Spider-Man figures out that this version of the character isn't a mutant, so it'll be quick work to basically tear out his battery pack. Still, it would've been nice if Teresa could've helped. The best parts of this story, dealing with this relationship and their relationship with their parents, is where the writing does have some hiccups. 

We only get to experience so much of these these two learning about each other, and their mom and dad, because of the constraints of about a hundred pages. Shorthand dialogue about power and responsibility is well-used, but it still feels like a workaround because the plot has to keep powering through. Other times, it is a bit on the nose. The Monte Carlo contact tells the two that Richard Parker was a wisecracker, instead of it being shown in one of Waid and Robinson's flashback scenes. Yes, this stuff should be in there but in a less clunky way. Luckily, the buy-in of the sibling storyline doesn't really have this problem.

Since there's no time to do a DNA test or something, what Waid and Robinson come up with is that Teresa has a family photo and Peter's expertise as a photojournalist tell him that it's not doctored. Doubt is in the back of his mind and ours, but things are addressed well, and nothing about the story really feels cheap because of that doubt. A costume change for Spider-Man is handled similarly, and outside justification for that is the artists get to have more fun. It just works. And again, this part of the story is not the wildest thing to happen in comics, other pop culture, and everyday life. What is wild is that they meet The Kingpin in Cairo.

Leaving out some details, what Family Business comes down to is a male Parker is able to unlock a vault full of Nazi gold that's also guarded by a robot. Nick Spencer's Ant-Man runs into a robot just like this a year or two later, and I recently re-read that for a (Patreon exclusive) guest appearance on the Superhero Cinephiles podcast, so the suspension of disbelief is still going strong here. Plus, this was around the time of the Webb/Garfield movies that were all about Peter's parents, so that probably helped some readers at the time. Now, I'm not so sure. I also wonder if this book has much of a legacy outside of the art and Wilson Fisk's iconic look? 

Wilson Fisk
Vincent D'Onofrio as Wilson Fisk | Copyright 2021 Marvel Studios

The closest comparison I can make to Dell'Otto and Dell'Edera's work is Alex Ross because of how it's painted. A quick comparison can be made with the Ross art in my Uncle Sam review, but a better one can be made by looking at his work in Marvels and Kingdom Come. Where Ross excels is scope and detailing, but, as far as I know, work like this in comics is still incredibly hard to come by outside of covers, and any instance of it should be celebrated. Personally, a character like Teresa should be, too. She's definitely not well-known.

I wish she was. Peter having that connection felt really heart-warming, as unexplored as it felt at times, but I couldn't find too much on the character after that, but if I'm missing something please correct me. As far as Family Business goes, Fisk and the robot are stopped, the day is saved, and there doesn't seem to be any major lasting impacts to the story. Some of that is probably by design because of the self-contained thing, but something about a bombshell like this just defusing, one that could've opened up the world of a character, doesn't feel right. This isn't even where Cindy Moon (Silk) was being kept, which is where I thought the story was going, but that just goes to show what casual reading gets you sometimes. Anyway, someone on Reddit said that the Webb/Garfield movies created the perfect universe to introduce and adapt her story, and they're right, but the MCU wouldn't be a bad fit either.

For those who've seen No Way Home or ready my review, they know that that Peter could use literally anybody in his life just popping up right now, and while writing around Doctor Strange's magic to make this happen logically would be quite difficult, it could be incredibly rewarding for Peter, his sister, and the fans who feel especially close to them.

3.75/5

Update: It looks like Chip Zdarsky featured her a few years later in his Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man run.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Prometheus Poster | Knocked Up Style

This poster may be one of the worst, and potentially most offensive, creative ideas I've ever had. Some stupid part of me hopes it sparks better work that can break through to people who still don't realize how necessary abortion rights are, and how scary the country is about to be for people who can get pregnant. That's why it's hopefully worth sharing.

For context on the mashup, if you don't know, please read "Is ‘Prometheus’ a Feminist Pro-Choice Metaphor?" by Megan Kearns.

Please donate to your local, or non-local, abortion fund. A list of funds is available here, and it's suggested that you do a search to quick make sure that sites and lists like this are up to date.

Prometheus Knocked Up Poster
Prometheus (2012) is a great movie, by the way
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Monday, May 23, 2022

Doctor Strange (2016) | Fan Made Poster, Co-Created By CGFlow and Other Artists

I was re-binging the MCU recently and remembered how one of the last director commentary tracks I heard was from Doctor Strange. Something about Scott Derrickson's early emphasis on Stephen's watches, in the movie and in the track, stuck out. This was along with the great imagery throughout the film. So a very loose idea for a movie poster came about. The idea was to focus on the symbols that make up the sorcerer more than the sorcerer himself. It seemed interesting because it should've been something done by the actual marketing department, but it wasn't. That also seemed like something worth bringing up, but first, the poster and what went into making it.

Doctor Strange Poster

The poster was co-created by CGFlow, and a breakdown of everything is right below here. Please consider supporting these awesome artists. This would not be possible without any of them.

The watch is by Vladimir Kunyansky, and the magic circles are by OgyaJanitra
The sling ring is by RadLadFrench and 3DTechDesign. I used some elements of each for one ring.
The hands and wraps were custom-made by CGFlow.
Titles are from Fanart.tv, just like my Vudu video.

Sad to say I really was just the idea guy on this one, and these creators, especially CGFlow, deserve the the credit for the poster. I just put all the pieces together once they were made or found. Again, please check out everyone's work and consider asking them for a commission.

People have really taken notice of movie posters lately, but it's been in an unexpected way. Lazy poster design is being called out across the industry, especially when it comes to franchise films. We're seeing the same color scheme, and we're seeing stars' faces arbitrarily filling the page. It gets the job done at a basic level, and maybe celebrities are causing the second problem and making it part of their contract for exposure, but ad campaigns at this scale need to vary. The movies have roughly two hours to cater to everyone. The posters have a few seconds.

X-Men PosterStar Wars PosterAladdin Poster
Someone made a meme putting these three together, with the caption "I've Watched This [Disney] Trilogy 5 Times And I Still Have No Clue What's Going On."

This may be shifting to a new design all studios are adopting. So, that's a small win and loss. 

Teaser and concept posters can bring in the tiny piece of the movie-going population who doesn't know what a great guy Paul Rudd is, and luckily Marvel sometimes recognizes that.

Ant-Man Poster


It's also a great way to test if a movie, or some part of it like a character's look, will work or not. It can be done before production is far along and a lot of money is spent. And, most importantly, with open-source software like, as mentioned, Gimp ("free Photoshop") and Blender 3D, fans can put their own spin on these kinds of posters too. I was surprised some version of this Doctor Strange poster wasn't done already, so you'd be surprised what's not out there yet and waiting to be created. 

Update: I whipped up a quick variant cover version with a hospital by jdva3d

hospital
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Friday, April 1, 2022

Morbius (2022) | Short Review

In Morbius, via IMDb, "Biochemist Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) tries to cure himself of a rare blood disease, but he inadvertently infects himself with a form of vampirism instead." And then his friend, played by Matt Smith, infects himself and Morbius has to kill him. That's about it, but the director, Daniel Espinosa, (Life) and writers, Matt Sazama & Burn Shapless, do what they can to fill up the 104 minute runtime.

The writing is some of the worst out there for a comic book movie, as the script doesn't just lack style and substance, but it lacks anything close to its own identity. On top of that, there's borrowing and stealing ideas from other projects, or filling pages with clichés, but it really feels like less than that, although the clichés are there. One of the lines in the trailer is about how Michael feels better than he's ever felt in his life after the experiment, but it has its drawbacks, too. 

If it's not something like that, Michael is just pushed along by the plot and barely able to make a decision. I'm not a writing expert, but I think plot-driven stories need to rely more on well-developed characters to keep us engaged, unless the plot mechanics are really interesting and out there. However, if I'm wrong or missing something about how that works, please let me know.

The action is okay, and the creature effects look really solid. The climatic fight scene gets a little tough to follow because of how fast the characters can move and teleport, but other than that...it's fine. Motion-capture was used to shift the leads in and out of their vampire forms, and the designs of their faces are nearly the only highlight of the movie.

The movie would be better if Michael was doing the "Lethal Protector" thing like Venom | Copyright 2022 Sony and Marvel

The other highlight would be Matt Smith. He is really good, and he channels Ewan McGregor’s Black Mask in his performance. It is the ounce of character in the entire movie, and I love my “woo” boys! It's worth nothing that Adria Arjona plays Doctor Martine Bancroft, one of Michael's friends and co-workers. She shaped her role after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and that is awesome. Arjona is doing the best she can with what she's given, but Martine is pushed along in that same way as Michael. If this somehow leads to her playing AOC one day, or more people like her with more to do, that's excellent. Until then, Morbius gets graded on what it is, not what it promises. 

Speaking of which, post-credits and MCU-wise, it's difficult to even tell what it's promising. Those scenes did not balance out the cost of admission on this one, but they rarely do on Sony's solo Spider-Man movies. Remember that time there was an X-Men trailer instead because of a trade with Fox?

With Morbius, the studio was on cookie-cutter auto-pilot, and that’s somehow way worse than them mandating senseless shit. They rushed the skeleton of a script out and dared to call it a movie. We jump on Sony for throwing out ideas like an Aunt May or Silver Sable movie, but that really could be something. I mean the headline alone is out there, and a movie about one of comic's most beloved moms opens a couple of doors. Ignoring that the idea was for an espionage story, I'm seeing a drama that shares the same perspective of Kurt Busiek's & Alex Ross's Marvels. It's superheroes from the perspective of the people again, which, outside of Disney+ shows and DC, hasn't really been deeply explored since the early days of the MCU. If Sony and Marvel are going to maintain a contentious relationship, they should at least try to one-up each other. Right now, it's up to upcoming Kraven the Hunter to rise to the challenge.

2/5

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Thursday, March 17, 2022

Vudu: Disc to Digital Service | Fan Made Commercial


I did an update to that radio commercial from a few months back. The odd challenge for this one was picking out the movies to feature. Luckily, Vudu has multiple communities dedicated to this service and other stuff like it, so it was easy to find a list to start off with. 

As always, this stuff wouldn't get off the ground without the help of a handful of people. The living room model from Fluza was also featured in two of the logo animations my friend Dylan Hirsh created for me recently. Logo, by the way, by Casey Morris. Speaking of logos, everything featured here came from a site called Fanart.tv, and TheMarvelStark pointed them out to me. Without it, picture-to-picture may look pretty inconsistent. This site mandates everything be the same size, so that was a huge help. Zane Sexton had a certain Bruce Campbell quality to his voice, and, while I couldn't sync that with "In the Hall of the Mountain King," he was a pleasure to work with. Finally, this, like the last Vudu video, is thanks to script made in Professor Gregg Bray's Writing For Digital Media class. Please check out his movie Liner Notes. It's been on my watchlist for a while.

So, if you like the video, or any of the puzzle pieces of it, please follow those links and spread the love. 

Finally, for anyone in an editing funk, this was a quick project to put together, but it's got me wanting to get back into some of the crazier stuff I was trying during lockdown. Small videos are always a great place to start, and they can be exercises you just keep to yourself, although someone will probably get a real kick out of them. 

Update: This is a tiny project that I did in an afternoon, so I'm mentioning it here. Months later, I recut an older Snickers ad for TikTok.



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Sunday, March 6, 2022

The Batman (2022) | Spoiler-Free

The Batman is directed by Matt Reeves (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War for the Planet of the Apes). It is written by Reeves and Peter Craig (The Town), as they stitch together dozens of Bat-sources and incarnations. Non-Bat-sources, as everyone has noted the influences of movies like Seven and Zodiac, play a large part, too. However, this isn't a patchwork, but a deep, warm, red tapestry of a movie. It stars, among others, Robert Pattinson (Batman/Bruce Wayne), Zoë Kravitz (Catwoman/Selina Kyle), Paul Dano (Riddler), Jeffrey Wright (James Gordon), John Tuturro (Carmine Falcone), Andy Serkis (Alfred Pennyworth), Colin Farrell (Penguin/Oswald Cobblepot), and Jayme Lawson (Bella Reál, Gotham's mayoral candidate). The plot is that after two years of developing The Batman, the changing tide in crime isn't what Bruce expected. There's still deep-rooted corruption, but now there's an escalation and assassinations of high-ranking people in Gotham carried out by the mysterious Riddler. It's up to Batman and Gordon to try to get a step ahead of him and his puzzles.

So, let's start at the top with those sources. For the most part, everything with Batman has probably been done in some way, shape, or form. It's all about what hasn't been done in a live-action film yet, and which combinations of elements either haven't been tried before or work best. The notable source that's not a spoiler is the action, and some set design, being inspired by the Arkham games. Snyder and Affleck were too when it came to action, but they're still fairly different takes. Reeves and Pattinson are less gadget-reliant, as this version of the character is still experimenting with what utilities work best. He's also using armor that doesn't sacrifice speed and flexibility, but that's actually much more for Reeves and his crew than it is for the character. 

According to Cinema Blend, "Pattinson was working with eighth degree red and black belt Brazilian jiu-jitsu intstructor Rigan Machado ahead of The Batman." Fights are primarily hand-to-hand and rely little on editing. Any tiny cuts or breaks in the action are thanks to the darkness Batman operates in. That's until the firing of a gun or a bullet sparking off his single, removable batarang chest plate reveal a little more. Really, the movie's cinematographer, Greg Fraser (Dune), and the people responsible for lighting and color grading deserve special recognition for shrouding everything away from the light while still keeping it visually comprehensible and beautiful. In all honesty, I have no clue how they made that work, especially after I criticized No Way Home for their night-time scenes. Anyone who can further explain it, please chime in. The best I can come up with, and it's an oversimplification, is that less cgi was involved. 

 

The Batman Returns Poster
I used their own artwork to update the 1992 Batman Returns poster | Copyright 2022 Warner Media

Onto the actors! To come right out with it, I need to see another movie with Pattinson before I can give him a fair ranking against most other Batmen. I think I wanted to see the looser, party-boy Bruce Wayne, even though it's a good thing we didn't get it, just for a fuller picture of his performance. Still, his Year One style narration that opens and closes the movie is fantastic. Ben McKenzie had that in the animated Year One movie, but it was overly stiff. This is closer to Jackie Earl Haley as Rorschach in Snyder's Watchmen, in tone, but it doesn't go overboard in over-the-top despair. It's the fine line that The Batman, luckily, comfortably walks. 

Zoë Kravitz, on the other hand, makes a great Selina and Catwoman, and it only took this movie for her to solidify that. Selina is more drawn from her sources than ever before, so Kravitz is given a lot to work with. Selina's frustration with the city radiates in ways that Bruce's can't, as she quickly sizes him up, behind the mask, as some kind of trust-fund kid. Blunt political, and racial, talking points of Joker (2019) are quickly handled much better through her, Riddler's plans, and Lawson's role as an AOC-like figure. And I very, very much appreciate that, and I'd add more if spoilers weren't at risk. Anyway, those sources include an interesting connection to mob boss Carmine Falcone, and I've never seen a stronger performance from John Tuturro. I've seen funnier and more out there, but I've never seen a show of real strength and power from the man. He and Kravitz are both inspired casting choices. 

Someone named Morris said "Jeffrey Wright is the best Jim Gordon and it's not even close." Again, I can't go that far without another movie, but we both agree on one thing, "they both go on the streets and both figure shit out." Especially for a first movie in a new set, is a slightly more hands-on Gordon than Nolan's and Gary Oldman's. It's a big benefit of that two-year head start. They're casual with each other, unless it appears one may have crossed the line. A close comparison is probably the Gordon and Batman of the 90s cartoon or The Dark Knight Returns. 

While it's still odd that Penguin isn't played by Richard Kind, since that's how Farrell looks under prosthetics, the only real problem with Oswald is we didn't get enough of him. Still, him only as a mid-tier thug is refreshing, especially for fans of the Arkham games, and it's probably the only time we'll see him with much of a funny bone that doesn't rely on breaking them. His interrogation by Batman and Gordon is a comedic highlight, as he mocks their inability to remember some basic Spanish in one of Riddler's clues. In returns, he's left of waddle in handcuffs until he gets picked up. It seems, the next time we see him, it'll be in an HBO Max show tracking his rise to power. Expect a lot of cruelty from him in it, and be ready to savor it. 

Finally, Paul Dano was absolutely pitch-perfect as Riddler. The character may be excruciating to hear to some, as he whines and pleads for attention and validation, but that is how small men like him should appear. When in control, Dano is menacing. One of his great strengths as an actor is an unassuming nature. That's been shown at least a few times over with Swiss Army Man, Prisoners, and There Will Be Blood. Pairing that with this character, he's able to twist reason and the symbol of Batman to suit his own needs, and gravitate people toward whatever side of reason that is. The movie comes together because of this. 

To start to close things out, I'll say that Reeves, Craig, and Pattinson have expertly created another "Brooding Bruce." To balance that out, they crafted a story and city where "it'll get worse before it gets better." A Gotham that never quite hits rock-bottom, although it gets close, is a great opening. A Bruce and Selina who share a kiss and haven't either is, too. Batman has hope. You can see it, and so much more in Pattinson's eyes behind the mask. And so does The Batman, and something like that has been missing from his stories for a while. Maybe because hope's usually more of a Superman thing?


Man of Steel

4/5


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Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Vudu: Disc to Digital Service | Fan Made Car/Radio Commercial


I'm a big fan of Vudu and this service, but the main reason I made this was to try to experiment and expand a little bit. It was my first time directing actors, and it was my first time putting captions in a video, so that's what made it something worth working on.

Just trying out different things with the channel, as I continue through a bit of a slump with trailers, reviews, and stuff like that.

Credits are inside the video. Please check out the work of the other people who helped put this together. It just would've stayed on the page without them.

A very special shoutout goes to Dylan Hirsh for putting the ending logo animation together. This is one of three pieces that he did for me. 

They all came out wonderfully, and we feel that they perfectly capture the themes and ideas of Why We Watch, as something more than just me blogging and having fun every once in a while. This is supposed to be a place of ideas. It doesn't always have to be critical thinking, but there should be something cooking in there while watching just the right movie or show. More info on these animations can be found in their individual YouTube videos.

And I did a very different one for myself after, to experiment with concepts and prep for a possible re-branding. Luckily, the Dylan's videos won't need much alteration once Casey is done. 

Update: This is a tiny project that I did in an afternoon, so I'm mentioning it here. Months later, I recut an older Snickers ad for TikTok.



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