Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Top 10 Greatest Butlers

Welcome again to the Guide to Geekdom. I’m tired of writing only film reviews. I’m also tired of my feet hurting and not being waited on hand and foot. With that mindset, I decided to come up with the Top 10 Greatest Butlers list. Searching all of Geekdom, I have selected the best of the best of all butlers. Before I start this list a few notable mentions of butlers who were considered for this list but ultimately didn’t make the cut:
-Klahadore (One Piece)
-Rosie the Robot (The Jetsons)
-Wong (Dr. Strange)
Now without further ado let’s start this list
10: Edwin Jarvis (Iron Man)
Jarvis has long serviced Iron Man and then latter on the Avengers, being the one constant that the team has always had. On occasion Jarvis has even joined the Avengers on some of their heroic adventures. When Iron Man wanted a new butler to replace Jarvis after he left to go serve the Avengers full time, he simply programmed a powerful artificial intelligence to be a copy of Jarvis. The program was named Just A Rather Very Intelligent System. This computerized version of Jarvis is what appears in the Iron Man films.
9: Mercy Graves (Superman: the animated series)
Mercy Graves is the bodyguard/ assistant to Lex Luthor. Graves is almost loyal to Luthor to a fault, blindly following his every whim and need. Graves gained the attention of Lex Luthor by once stealing his briefcase without his notice. The feat had impressed Luthor and he has had her as his assistant ever since.  If it weren’t for Luthor’s tendency to only care for himself, he would have her absolute loyalty.
8: Max (Cats Don’t Dance)
Max is the loyal manservant to the evil Darla Dimple (an evil Shirley Temple for those who haven’t seen this film). He is literally a mountain of a man who is a force of nature in his own right. Darla uses Max throughout the entire movie as an enforcer who ensures she gets absolutely everything she wants no matter what. Max is representative of the uphill battle it is for unknown actors to enter the show business industry.
7: Lurch (The Addams Family)
“You rang?” This Frankenstein like butler is the faithful servant to the abnormal Addams Family. Lurch may not be the greatest butler, but he takes great pride in his work. Lurch is fully willing to do any task for the Addams, no matter how demeaning. At times Lurch appears to grow tired or annoyed of his employers, but he considers them family and will continue to serve them without end.
6: John Lawless (The Happiest Millionaire)
John is the most recent butler for the Biddle family, but he is also the longest lasting butler. John’s bizarrely always chipper nature has allowed him to easily jump into the antics of the Biddle family and become one with the family. At one point he even ends up getting a dance number with an alligator in the film. John is a great butler because he is able to perfectly adapt himself to the Biddle’s every need and always gets the job done one way or another.
5: Kato (The Green Hornet)
Kato is the butler/sidekick to the crime fighting hero The Green Hornet. Kato is a skilled chauffer who drives The Green Hornet anywhere in The Black Beauty (basically their Batmobile).  Kato is a master of martial arts (helped by the fact that he was originally played by Bruce Lee). Kato’s popularity was so great that they renamed the TV series The Kato Show in Hong Kong. Of all the super heroic dynamic duos, The Green Hornet and Kato have always been a fan favorite.
4: Domovoi Butler (Artemis Fowl)
The Butler family has been in the service of the Fowl family for centuries. Each of the Butler Family members are train to be the ultimate bodyguards and servants to the Fowls. They are all assigned a family member to protect, acting as a constant second shadow, obeying every command without hesitance. Domovoi is one of the greatest bodyguards in his family and has followed Artemis Fowl II mastermind adventures through the long hidden realm of magic. He is also the only human to have engaged a troll in combat and win.
3: Walter C. Dornez (Hellsing)
Is there nothing scarier than meeting the angel of death incarnate? Perhaps if you found out he was the butler to someone even more powerful. Walter has long served the Hellsing organization as their lead vampire hunter, being famous for his ability to wield microfilament razor wire as if they were but an extension of his own body. Being in the later years of his life Walter retired from being the lead vampire hunter to being Hellsing’s butler. It is an absolute feat to be considered the Angel of Death incarnate by Alucard himself.
2: Alfred Pennyworth (Batman)
I suppose you were expecting this one. If there was one butler that anyone could remember off the top of their heads, it would be Alfred. I really don’t think I have to go further in with this character other than he is Batman’s butler. If you honestly can’t remember his name, you will know him as Batman’s butler.  A constant alley to the Dark Knight, you will be hard pressed to find a better butler.
That being said here is number one…
1: Sebastian Michaels (Black Butler)
“Suddenly, Ciel came back, along with a pitch-black butler.”
If you have never picked up this series, you are missing out. What if you had a butler that could accomplish absolutely every task or order you gave him? What if this butler would also act as a guiding light, leading you to your ultimate destiny of vengeance towards everyone who had ever wronged you or tarnished your honor? What if this butler would go to the ends of the Earth just to service your every whim? What if, at the end of it all, all he wants in return is your soul? Sebastian Michaels is the ultimate butler, because he is a demon. Signed into a Faustian Contract with Ciel Phantomhive, he will act as the boy’s greatest servant until his life’s goals are completed. On that day he will collect his soul and devour it, but until then he will remain at his side as his black butler.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Let's Review: Green Lantern

This film has received a lot of negative reviews, so when I went into the theater to watch it I was expecting certifiable crap. What I ended up getting was crap but not as big of a dump as I thought it would be. The way some reviews were critiquing it, I thought Green lantern was sending comic book movies back to the Stone Age, but it ended up disappointing me in how bad it was suppose to be. In any case let’s review Green Lantern.
The Negative
If there was one thing that continually bothered me about the film it would be the editing. Scenes were spliced, cut, mismatched, and placed in all sorts of orders that made no sense and really took me out of the movie. One scene that stands out for me is the origin scene, when Hal places the ring on the lantern and speaks the oath for the first time. This is supposed to be the big iconic moment of the movie (the iconic moment of any superhero movie) when he first gains his powers. The scene was spliced together with the scene of Hector Hammond gaining his powers through the Parallax infection. The scene would show 2 seconds of Hal, then 2 seconds of Hector, then back to Hal, then back to Hector, and so on and so forth.  This was a confusing choice on the editor’s part, because I had seen both scenes separately and completed in some of the movie’s trailers. Why would they go so far out of their way to ruin what should be one of the most iconic moments from this character’s origin by plastering it together with the villain’s origin?
The specific reason they did this is because of the complete mishandling of Hector Hammond’s character throughout the entire movie. Throughout the entire movie, they kept trying to get across that Hal and Hector were equal opposites, both gaining their respective powers at the same time, except Hal was destined for fame and glory as the hero while Hector was the discarded, disrespected son who becomes a monster. The problem is the film never sets this up properly. We get one scene that is almost 2/3 through the movie where we find out that Hal and Hector knew each other and had once been friends of some sort. Hal is favored by Hector’s father, while Hector is almost despised by his father. Before that moment the characters have no interaction with each other, instead they are both randomly featured in each other’s origin scene. Where have I seen this done so much better? The Spiderman movies. This entire relationship between these two characters was done so much better between Peter Parker and Harry Osborn. Their friendship was built up so well throughout the films so that when they finally confront each other in the 3rd film it actually has some meaning to it. The relationship between Hal and Hector was mishandled and it ruined the emotional ties that were supposed to be felt when these two went into combat with each other.
My final problem with the film is that ALL THE SUPPORTING CAST MEMBERS ARE COMPLETELY FORGETTABLE. His best friend, the love interest, the entire green lantern corp., the scientist woman, the senator, none of them were really memorable when all was said and done.  I don’t even care enough to look up the love interest’s name because if she was memorable at all I wouldn’t have to look up her name after the movie was over. They were all just flat characters who were just there so that Hal and Hector had somebody to bounce their ideas off of. The Green Lanterns are in the movie for all of 10 minutes. We never really get a moment to truly experience what it’s like for the Green Lanterns at all.
The Positive
I was a big fan of Oa. Every moment with the Green Lantern’s was like getting a peak into an awesome universe that could rival some of the greatest galaxies the Sci-Fi genre has to offer. That said, it’s such a shame that it makes up so little of the film. I almost feel like the film should have kept all of the sci-fi stuff out of the film until Hal got the ring from Abin Sur, being done in a similar way to The Last Starfighter, and just have the rest of the film be in space until the climactic battle of Hal returning to Earth to fight the villain.
That being said, I actually really liked Parallax in the film. I feel like Parallax was a successfully pulled off version of Galactus that they wanted for the 2nd Fantastic Four movie. He was a cosmic level threat that was coming to finish off the weapon that had once defeated him. At the same time, I also felt that it was a fair adaption of the villain from the comics. What we saw in the film wasn’t really Parallax but rather his presence possessing an individual and forwarding his goals by acting through them. That’s the kind of Parallax I remember from the comics and that’s what I kind of got from the film’s depiction.
In Conclusion
Green Lantern isn’t the worst superhero movie ever made, but at the same time I wonder who was on the cutting room floor who severely butchered this film. This film had the potential to be so much better than what it turned out to be. If only they had planned out the overall story a little better, this could have been something big. I want to see DC keep trying to give us something new. I’m really tired of only getting to see Superman and Batman films. I was really excited when I heard they were making a Green Lantern movie. I only hope that this fumble has deterred them from making more films about their vast number of characters. 2.5 out of 5.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Let's Review: Priest

So let me ask you something. Did anyone else know that Priest was actually based on a Korean comic? This is a true fact. It’s just a shame that even though it is based on the comic, it almost completely ignores it. I actually read up on the comic before writing this review and found myself awfully surprised to have absolutely nothing to compare the movie to.  This just goes along with my overall problems with films based on comics that ignore the story but that’s not what I’m going to talk about. I’m here to talk about the movie, so let’s get to reviewing Priest.
The Negative
If Star Wars, Blade Runner, Mad Max, and Van Helsing had a love child with the Western Film Genre it would result in Priest. While that may sound good on paper, it ends up as a big mess on the big screen. The plot was uninspired and predictable. At its most basic the story is ninja priests vs. cowboy vampires, once again this sounds really cool on paper but would you really want to watch a whole film about this and not just a cool fight scene (which are surprisingly rare). The film is barely held together by the plot. After awhile of watching the film I started listing off plot twists from Star Wars and watched as they slowly appeared. Some of the more interesting plot twists and character motivations are barely touched on and result in a very bizarre film.
One of my major problems with the film is the sheriff Hicks. Not once in the entire film do I actually feel like he is competent at all. I’m fairly certain he only shoots 5 vampires in the entire film, if that. At one point in the film, Hicks threatens the Priest that if his kidnapped girlfriend has been converted into a vampire he will kill Priest in order to stop him from slaying her. I found this to be the funniest moment in the entire movie. Nothing leading up to that point had actually made me believe that this guy could even shoot an elephant standing in front of him, so to have his character defiantly state that he would kill the Priest to save his girlfriend came off as childish and impudent.
My final problem in the film was the concept of highly trained ninja assassins. Don’t get me wrong, I really like the idea but I found it oddly portrayed in the film. Our main Priest is very poorly armed only carrying on him a knife and cross shurikens. When planning on going after someone kidnapped by a vampire hoard, I would have brought a lot more weapons with me. You could argue that he doesn’t need any more weaponry, but then I see the scene where he fights the large vampire monster in the hive and I feel like a larger blade would have done the trick. Then there are 3 of the Priest that are killed really easily by the main villain. One of the Priests was simply showing off his amazing choreography before having a hole punched in his chest. For being highly trained assassin’s they went down a bit too easy.
The Positive
The best thing going for this film was its visuals. The city, the desert, the weapons, the motorcycles; everything in this film had a visual stylization to it that looked amazing. I would re-watch the movie just to enjoy the atmosphere and background of the world these characters walked in. I feel like the beautiful visuals were wasted on such a poor plot.
I actually found myself really liking the villains of the movie. The vampires themselves came off as being similar to the alien Bugs species from Starship Troopers, in that it was a swarm of mindless killers being lead by one silent brain whose overall goal is left a mystery to us. Karl Urban as Black Hat was an interesting villain whose overall plot and motivation should have been a centerpiece to the film. Black Hat was a former Priest who was captured by the vampire swarm and converted into one of them. His relationships with the other Priests are barely touched on and I feel like we missed out on something important.
In Conclusion
I had a really hard time writing this review and have been putting it off for quite some time. The reason for this is that the film was just not that memorable. I found myself hard pressed to be inspired enough to write about this uninspired film. The fact that a movie where Ninja Priests fight Cowboy Vampires should tell how desperate film studios are these days to try and get our money. 2 out of 5.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Let's Review: X-Men: First Class

Hey Geeks, welcome to my next Let’s Review. I’ve been a bit behind in my movie reviews but until I get around to those I’m going to talk about the film that’s fresh in my head. I’m going to be talk about X-Men: First Class, so if you haven’t seen it yet and don’t want it spoiled go see it now then come back and read my review. Back? Good. Let’s Review X-Men: First Class.
The Negative
The reason I like to go over the negative first is so I can end the review on a good note so it doesn’t seem like I’m just bashing the film, but I really don’t have that many complaints about the film. There were only two things that really didn’t sit well with me throughout the film. The big problem with the film was its special effects. Some of the effects worked really well like Mystique’s shape shifting or Banshee’s sonic screams but some of the effects were very noticeable and of poor quality.
The big sore thumb in the special effects was Beast. Nothing against the actor at all, He did an amazing job playing Hank, but the effects for his powers were horrible. Beast’s original powers made his feet and hands bulky, but in the film he just had these poorly rendered hand feet. After changing into the blue lion were all use to, the effects only got worse. The makeup design was poor and the eyes were digitally rendered and IT WAS VERY NOTICEABLE. WHAT THE HELL WAS THE PROBLEM MARVEL, YOU ALREADY PULLED OFF BEAST’S APPEARANCE IN X-MEN 3, WHY DID YOU HAVE A PROBLEM THIS TIME.
My other problem with the film is how underdeveloped most of the characters are. A lot of the X-men team get brief moments of Professor X helping them with their powers and this helps their character become stronger, that’s about it. The worst case of underdevelopment goes to the villains. Sebastian Shaw’s motives throughout the film are very briefly touched on in a psychic interrogation and it comes off as being akin to a James Bond villain. The evil scheme is a bit over the top and feels like a Saturday morning cartoon villain’s plan, which was the same problem with the first film and Magneto’s scheme. The rest of the villains barely get any development and their motivations are left obscured. The villain Riptide actually doesn’t get any lines in the film. This is a problem because we don’t really get good villains so much as bad special effects that move the plot along.
The Positive
This movie was great. It was completely enjoyable from start to finish. Whereas every other character got very little development, the three that did really carried the film. Magneto comes off as strong and powerful but not yet in control of his abilities. It’s ironic in that Professor X is the one who eventually teaches him how to fully harness his magnetic powers. Mystique spends most of the movie learning to accept herself which surprisingly isn’t helped by Xavier but rather Magneto as it is Magneto who is the one who tells her that she is beautiful as is. This functions as a great turning point for her as this is when she decides to side with Magneto.
 James McAvoy as Professor X was awesome. I will admit that I was hesitant at first when I found out that he was playing the professor but he completely submerged himself into the role and gave an amazing performance. This Professor X is like none we have ever seen before. Xavier is seen as a youthful, cocky lad who is full of himself. It almost comes off as a good thing that he becomes disabled because it is a very humbling act for the character. Once he is in the wheelchair he can no longer be the wild youth with immeasurable but must become the professor who knows how to lead his people into prosperity.
In Conclusion
The film is actually one of the better X-Men movies. It accomplishes what it set out to do, to show us the origin of the X-Men. This is pulled off amazingly well and even redeems the 3rd movie (Not the Wolverine movie, nothing can redeem that {Quote within a quote, Hugh Jackman’s small guest appearance as Wolverine is one of the funniest moments in the film}). I would recommend this film to anyone who enjoyed the other X-Men films. I give it 3.5 out of 5.