Welcome back! I hope you guys had a great Thanksgiving without too many headaches from Black Friday. Instead of shopping, my sister and I attended LosCon at the LAX Marriott. It's an annual science fiction convention in Los Angeles. Neither one of us attended before, so I thought it would be worth a shot. Unfortunately, it's a really small event. There was a small number of vendors and we didn't see a lot of cosplayers either. However, it had some lovely artwork and several panels. Photography wasn't allowed regarding the artwork, but we saw quite a few paintings, sketches, and crafts. Star Wars was a popular theme with some of the artwork. I also noticed some steampunk and dieselpunk themes too.
Our day actually started with an awesome breakfast buffet at the hotel. It included fruit, hot and cold cereal, bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, lox and other cold meats, hard boiled eggs, a big variety of pastries, yogurt, an omelette station, etc. $18 for a huge variety of quality food. I highly recommend the buffet if you're staying at the Marriott near LAX.
I'm going to include some photos. Usually, I have a much bigger photo gallery. But this should give you a decent idea. I thought Pendragon Costumes had the best selection of clothing. They specialize in Renaissance Faire clothing and custom leather attire. You can find out more about their merchandise at www.pendragoncostumes.com.
I encountered a familiar vendor from previous events. Gears and Roebuck's Rusty Junk Emporium had a lot of steampunk merchandise. I really like her work and the prices are pretty reasonable. If I'm going to buy a steampunk Nerf gun some day, it will probably be from this vendor. I believe Gears and Roebuck is from the Norco area, but she sells merchandise at events throughout Southern California. Contact the vendor through Facebook if you want to commission her for a project. https://www.facebook.com/GearsAndRoebuck/
Cargo Cult Books & Notions is an independent book seller in the Berkeley area. They had a lot of neat sci-fi and fantasy titles. My sister bought a book called Sherlock Holmes vs. Cthulhu. I'm sure it's a fun parody and adventure story. Take a look through my photos to see if any publications spark your fancy. Maybe I'll try The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter. It's supposed to be a follow up to War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. You can also visit Cargo Cult's Facebook page.
I ran into a couple of my steampunk acquaintances from San Diego. Cerulean St. Amor and Doc Synchronous were at LosCon to market the Gaslight Gathering. It's an annual steampunk festival and I believe the next dates are April 6-8 of 2018. The convention is going to have a carnival theme with family entertainment during the day and spooky stuff at night. It should have plenty of steampunk vendors, panels, a costume contest, etc. I'm pretty sure attendees will also have a chance to explore a fallen airship too. Details are available at www.gaslightgathering.org and Facebook.
My sister and I attended a panel that covered 19th century science fiction. It was a little different than I anticipated. The panelists discussed several authors who were less well known than H.G. Wells and Jules Verne. They talked about several female authors and obscure titles from some of the more popular novelists. An interesting idea was discussed. Why does pop culture and the scholarly world focus on authors like Wells and Verne? There was a great variety of quality literature in the 19th century and much of it disappeared into obscurity. Why did it happen? Truthfully, we don't know the answers. People have a lot of theories, but I guess it goes to show an author needs luck, connections, and a strong fan base. Today, we know the majority of modern authors will never achieve their big break. It wasn't any different for authors during the 19th century. The literary world is incredibly competitive.
I want to bring up something else. The parking isn't very good at the LAX Marriott. There isn't enough self parking, leaving valet parking as the only option for many people. It's expensive and some of the parking staff are really rude. Keep that in mind if you're planning to stay at the LAX Marriott or attending a convention at the facility.
That's all for now. LosCon was a much smaller event than my usual excursions. Not sure if I want to attend again. The parking situation doesn't make me feel enthusiastic to come back. However, the food is pretty good. It also had decent steampunk representation and quite a few panels. I'll decide further down the road. Leave a comment if you want to say anything about this post. We're almost done with 2017 and I'm going to write plenty more topics in 2018. Good luck with the holidays and I'll see you guys next week.
Thor: Ragnarok and Justice League
Thanks for joining me again! Marvel and DC released superhero films this November and I wanted to review them. I’m going to compare Thor: Ragnarok and Justice League. Which film is better? I’ll give you my thoughts. The results might surprise you.
First, I’m going to talk about Thor: Ragnarok. It’s the third and possibly final installment in the Thor franchise. Ragnarok takes place quite some time after The Dark World ended. Thor goes on an interesting journey where he encounters many familiar faces, including Loki and the Hulk. The Goddess of Death named Hela is going to destroy Asgard and bring Ragnarok, aka the end of days. Along the way, Thor becomes stranded on a planet called Sakaar where he tries to survive and create a team who can help him defeat Hela. The literal end of the world is at stake if Thor and his allies don’t win.
I was terribly conflicted with this movie. There were quite a few impressive elements about Ragnarok. But I also had several issues with the film as well. Let’s start with the positive elements. It has fabulous entertainment value. There’s action, humor, interesting characters, great visual effects, and a killer soundtrack. Any number of people could enjoy this film. It’s great for families, action movie crowds, Marvel fans, and people who enjoy comedy films. If you’re only planning to see one film this November, Ragnarok might be a good choice.
The film has an impressive cast. I think Chris Hemsworth is great as Thor. He’s funny and a great action hero with some decent character development. In the past, Thor was my least favorite of the primary Marvel superheroes. But he shows a lot of improvement in Ragnarok. Thor seems to be evolving as a character and maybe we’ll see more things in the Infinity War movie. Cate Blanchett is amazing as Hela. A lot of the previous Marvel villains were disappointing, but Hela is evil, ruthless, and entertaining. Hela’s costume is fantastic too. I think Valkyrie, played by Tessa Thompson, is a great addition to the Marvel cast. She’s actually a very complex character who is also an effective action star. I hope we’ll see a lot more of her in future Marvel films. Usually, I’m not a big Hulk fan, but he was pretty good in this movie. He has the ability to communicate in this film and it makes the character seem more human. Naturally, the Hulk contributes to quite a few action scenes. Jeff Goldblum was really funny as the Grandmaster. He’s very weird, quirky, and witty. Inherently, Goldblum is playing himself onscreen and it works quite well. We even get a cameo by Doctor Strange. I really like Doctor Strange as a character and superhero, so his appearance is cool, even if it’s brief.
I’m going into more detail for the action scenes and special effects. Ragnarok has some of the most impressive action sequences I’ve ever seen in a Marvel film. It’s a combination of fantasy and superhero driven action. If you love action movies, I insist that you should see Ragnarok on the big screen. The visual effects for locations like Asgard and Sakaar are terrific. I also believe the visual effects integrate really well in the action scenes. Just go see the movie and check it out. Ragnarok could be a strong contender at the Oscar’s for best visual effects, but it’s hard to tell. It’s going to be a tight race for the category next year. Ragnarok also has a very unique and fun soundtrack. It’s a combination of many things. Some of the music has an 80s rock and heavy metal feel. Part of the soundtrack seems to fit in the characteristics of 80s action movies. It also incorporates a lot of stylistic elements that we saw in earlier Marvel films. Basically, the soundtrack is a really good mix.
The overall film was very good, but I definitely have some criticism. Rangarok is more of a comedic movie and it certainly helped Thor break away from his dull roots. However, I thought the humor went overboard sometimes. It seemed excessive and inappropriate during scenes that should have been more serious. Ragnarok is the end of the world. Should we be laughing during the most dramatic moments? Ironically, some of the humor slowed the pace down. Characters and scenes stopped regularly to pause for jokes or other forms of comedy. It was a little bit distracting and dragged the film along. Basically, Ragnarok didn’t need to run past and hour and a half. Maybe an hour and forty-five minutes at the most. I believe the film’s run time was two hours and twenty minutes. If they didn’t stop for quite so many silly scenes, the time would have passed much faster.
Here’s my biggest complaint. A huge portion of the movie focuses on the Planet Hulk subplot. That’s not a spoiler. It was made perfectly clear in the trailers. I thought it took significant time away from the main storyline and antagonist. The Grandmaster is entertaining, but Hela is a better villain and more important for the plot. I wanted to see a Thor movie. Not Planet Hulk featuring Thor. It was fine to feature the Planet Hulk story in a certain section of the film, but it occupied way too much time.
Also, the Hulk suddenly talks and seems to be a more functional character in this film. No, that’s not a spoiler either. It’s part of the trailers. How did he learn to talk and become more coherent? The movie doesn’t explain the Hulk’s evolution. It’s not a big deal, but I would like to know the details. Overall, Thor: Ragnarok was a great film in many ways, but it has a few issues.
Let’s move on to Justice League. It takes place some time after the events of Batman v Superman. Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, still feels guilty about the death of Superman at the hands of Doomsday. He wants to bring together the metahumans and stop a deadly alien invasion that could destroy the earth. We’ll finally see Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Flash, and Cyborg together as a superhero team. Don’t count out Superman either. They have special plans for him under strange circumstances.
I really enjoyed this movie a lot! It has great entertainment value. There are plenty of action scenes, humor, interesting characters, and the pacing is good. I can tell Justice League was made for DC fans. This is a big step in the right direction. Granted, Wonder Woman was a much better film. However, I’m glad the DCEU is moving away from its darker, broodier, and more depressing aesthetic. Justice League is lighter and more fun. I actually believe it’s more suitable for the comic book readers. It’s also going to be more enjoyable for casual moviegoers. Luckily, the movie isn’t overly silly. It has the right amount of humor and action in contrast to serious moments.
Everybody was fabulous in this film. I loved the entire Justice League team. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman is still the strongest and most impressive character in the series. She’s relentless, pure of heart, and gorgeous. They made a lot of improvements to Batman’s character. I couldn’t stand him in Batman v Superman. He seems more like the Batman I remember from the DC comics. Ben Affleck still isn’t my favorite Batman, but he was fine in this movie. Jason Mamoa was great as Aquaman. The film version of Aquaman is significantly different than his comic book counterpart, but that’s a good thing. I preferred the more masculine and aggressive version of Aquaman in this movie. He also brought some humor to a handful of scenes. I thought Aquaman and Wonder Woman were really good tag team partners. Ezra Miller was a decent casting choice for the Flash. I thought he was goofy and nerdy with a big heart. Every superhero film needs someone who can serve as comic relief and the Flash was the right man for the job. He makes a really good supporting character, but it might be difficult to give him a solo film. I was really surprised with Cyborg. His powers are super cool and an audience can easily empathize with him. Although a big part of his role was mostly technological. I would like to see him in more action driven scenes. All the same, the writing was very strong for Cyborg and I thought Ray Fisher gave an accurate performance. I also enjoyed Henry Cavill as Superman. This version of Superman is the more hopeful and optimistic version we know from the comic books. I noticed quite a few improvements to his character. We even get a better look at his powers.
The action scenes areawesome. It's a fast paced and superhero charged adventure with a wide variety of powers. The teamwork pushes everything up a notch. I thought the entire group came together very well and helped each other get through the tough parts. Each character serves a particular purpose and I thought the directing was very good in that aspect. The action scenes should definitely pump up the viewer’s adrenaline.
Even though the film’s use of humor isn't perfect, I still giggled during several scenes. The lighter tone made me feel happy. I wasn’t thrilled with the dark and nihilistic mood in the earlier DCEU films. There still needs to be more improvements, but I’m feeling very hopeful about the franchise now. I think Warner Bros. is taking the DC movies in the right direction. Basically, Justice League is bringing back the fun factor to comic book films. It’s also more family friendly as a result. I think a lot of kids would really enjoy this movie. Justice League runs for approximately two hours long. Thank goodness! I’m tired of watching long and boring films. Justice League has a very comfortable pace. It doesn’t seem rushed in my opinion.
Now I’m going to talk about the bad parts. Even though the action scenes areentertaining, most of the CGI isawful. This film’s CGI and blue screen effects were inferior to most action films I saw earlier this year. Henry Cavill didn’t shave his mustache from the filming of Mission Impossible 6. So, they digitally altered his face to appear clean shaven. It was incredibly obvious and distracting. That’s too bad because Henry Cavill is such a good looking actor. I was really disappointed with the way Steppenwolf looked. He’s a towering CGI monster. Steppenwolf would be much cooler if he wasn’t a cartoonish giant. I don’t understand why he wasn’t an actor in a costume with a few practical effects. Steppenwolf always appeared human with normal height in the comics anyway. It's really obvious when they use a blue screen. All of the underwater sequences are bad too. I don’t think our technology is advanced enough to have complex underwater scenes. Overall, the visual effects are a mess. If the CGI was better, I would recommend seeing Justice League on a huge screen like IMAX. Personally, I don't think it's worth the extra money.
I also think the plot is a bit thin, particularly regarding the Apokolips element. It's a straight forward storyline, but Steppenwolf doesn't have much background. The film doesn't explain why aliens want to destroy the earth. It didn’t bother me very much, but some DC fans and moviegoers will be disappointed. I’m feeling a bit of déjà vu from X-Men: Apoclaypse. The Apokolips story was major in the DC comics and it was a shortened version in the film without much substance. In the movie, it’s a generic alien invasion with apocalyptic consequences.
Which film comes out on top for me? Actually, I enjoyed Justice League more than Thor: Ragnarok, despite the bad visual effects. Way too much time was spent on the Planet Hulk subplot in the Thor movie. That's my honest opinion, but I'm pretty sure a lot of viewers will choose Thor: Ragnarok over Justice League.
Overall, both films have pretty strong characters. Hela is certainly the superior villain to Steppenwolf, even though she's not in the film enough. Ragnarok has significantly better visual effects than Justice League. Both films have good elements regarding the humor and also some issues. I thought Ragnarok became a bit too silly at times. The pacing is a lot better in Justice League. I’m not particularly thrilled with either director. Both movies are totally appropriate for families and people who enjoy action films. Honestly, I just think audiences need to watch these films and make their own judgment calls. Everything is about personal preference and opinion.
That's the end of my comparison between Thor: Ragnarok and Justice League. If you have the time and money, try to see both films before the end of 2017. Have you seen either movie yet? Let us know what you thought by leaving a comment. Next week's blog post might be coverage at LosCon. It's a sci-fi convention in the Los Angeles area. I also hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend. It's a good opportunity to catch up with family, indulge on delicious food, and take a break from the workplace. Take it easy and I'll see you guys next week.
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