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Friday, August 29, 2014

Ranking the Batman Films of the Past Thirty Years

With Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice well into production and images of Ben Affleck's Batman now publicized, I thought I'd take a moment to review all of the Batman films since Tim Burton's Batman, ranking them from worst to best.

Batman and Robin (1997)




Arguably the worst film of the franchise, this monkey turd of a film marked the sad end to Batman's cinematic heyday and a low point in Joel Schumacher's career. A study in storytelling gone wrong, this movie tarnished Batman's onscreen reputation with its cheesy lines, poor script, and George Clooney's infamous Bat-nipples.
I think we'd all just like to forget this ever happened.



Batman Forever (1995)




This may have been rated the worst film of the franchise until Batman and Robin came out in 1997. Joel Schumacher directed a cheesy, more comedic outing of the Dark Knight. It featured a well-known cast that included Jim Carrey as the Riddler (one of the film's better performances) and Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face, who did the best he could with what he had to work with. This was meant to be a psychological evaluation of the dysfunctional relationship between Bruce Wayne and Batman, but gaudy set pieces, an average script and poor direction made this one of the more forgettable adventures of the Dark Knight.





The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

It was difficult to decide if this film should be in the top three, ahead of Batman Returns. The ending of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy attempted to blend elements of Batman stories Knightfall and No Man's Land. The result was a mixed bag.
By no means a bad movie, The Dark Knight Rises was such a radical departure from any canon that a great many fans felt alienated even from the first two films. Still, it featured Christopher Nolan's trademark, real-world storytelling, putting the spotlight not only on the main character but the supporting cast and the world itself. It was harrowing to watch Bane completely overtake Gotham City and featured a plausible real-world scenario should a major city come under siege.
The Dark Knight Rises was a satisfactory conclusion to Christopher Nolan's take on Batman. Not spectacular, not great, but good.



Batman Begins (2005)
Christopher Nolan's re-imagining of Batman catapulted the Dark Knight to commercial and critical success. After an eight-year hiatus, Batman Begins told an origin story loosely based on canon and set in a very modern world.
This was the first Batman story ever presented that made us ask; "What if this actually happened?" We are given a glimpse into the lives of the Wayne family before they are abruptly snuffed out, we see a bright and beautiful Gotham go dark as its most prominent citizens are murdered. We see the actual trial of the killer. We even see a vengeful Bruce Wayne who was ready to murder the killer himself, so lost is he in his quest for revenge. The road to becoming Batman was far from focused and we get to see his every pitfall and mistake as he becomes the Dark Knight. Easily the best origin story of any superhero on film and one of the best Batman films ever produced.



Batman Returns (1992)

Batman Returns is a perfect example of a sequel done right; reunite the cast, add the right people for the right roles (this film introduced me to Christopher Walken), and let the director do his thing.
I'm hard-pressed to find another sequel outside of the Star Wars universe that lives up to its predecessor. Tim Burton is at his gothic best returning to the Dark Knight as we know him today. Michael Keaton's performance cemented him as the Batman for an entire generation. I loved Michelle Pfeiffer's tortured, haunting turn as a timid secretary turned vigilante seductress. Danny Devito as the Penguin was awesome, watching him balance Cobblepot's aristocratic attitude with malice and humor.
As far as I'm concerned, the Batman films of the nineties could've ended here.




Batman (1989)



About how many films can we say are responsible for a generation of entertainment? Tim Burton's masterful take on the Dark Knight gave rise to the film adaptation of the comic book. It made the dark, moody Dark Knight mainstream. It paved the way for Batman: The Animated Series and Kevin Conroy's twenty-year run of vocalizing Batman.
Michael Keaton is arguably the only actor to ever successfully pull off the airheaded, nonchalant Bruce Wayne as well as the master detective and martial artist that was Batman. Jack Nicholson's Joker was incredible; a gentleman, a comedian, a homicidal clown, and so perfectly played by Jack Nicholson. Until the number one choice came down the pipeline, this was the perfect Batman film and certainly the superhero film that defined a generation of storytellers. 



The Dark Knight (2008)

Arguably the greatest Batman film of all time, this film works on so many levels it's difficult to enumerate them all. The world of Gotham City is incredibly and vividly fleshed out, so much so that it could be used in other films that don't include Batman. Christopher Nolan's masterful take on the Dark Knight is a psychological examination of the universe's key characters, set in a disturbingly plausible world.




Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

So I Did The Ice Bucket Challenge...

video

So this is me, doing the ice bucket challenge. I will be donating a portion of the sales of the Ring of Asarra to the ALS Association too.

Thanks for reading/watching/laughing.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

UW The Ring Of Asarra. Plot, Details, Release Date



Universal Warrior returns with a story of choice, loyalty, love, and family set against the backdrop of humanity's first brush with extinction.

The Ring of Asarra, set hundreds of years before the events of Before Red Morning, is the story of refugee Sephtis Thanatos, who has been granted asylum with the last alliance in the mountain city of Torduin, tucked away in the Northern region of Panagaea. Though Sephtis has long claimed amnesia, the truth of his presence in Torduin is far more sinister, though he has found his allegiances conflicted as of late.

When Sephtis succumbs to despair, he is met by the Elven mother Asarra, who asks for his help in saving the last of her people. For his assistance, she offers a chance to be free of his past, and to have the heritage he has always desired.

Before Sephtis can act on the blessing, the location of Torduin is betrayed and those in power suddenly find themselves forced to contend with the malevolent gods who've spent the past one hundred and fifty years driving them to extinction.

In the midst of the beginnings of humanity's first great war, Sephtis Thanatos will find himself caught between two impossible forces, and the repercussions of his choice will not only effect the lives of those closest to him but have dire consequences until the end of all things.

The Ring of Asarra is an epic fantasy short story that serves as a precursor to the novel Last Night of the Riders.
It will be available on Amazon and other e-retailers on November 3, 2014.

It will be the first product to be offered under the Akting Out LLC imprint and will be the second story available in the Universal Warrior timeline.

Stay tuned for pricing and promotions.

Thanks very much for reading and your support.


Monday, August 18, 2014

A Poem About Rage

"Fire" By Jason Bobich
RAGE

O great and terrible unyielding fire
Though you beckon to me like a crimson flower
Though you promise my desires fulfilled
I dare not take you for my own.

For though your power is unyielding
And your vengeance terrible
You know no difference between friend or foe
And when you have completed your work on enemies mine

You will turn your attentions to me
And show me the truth that I was never in control
And drag me down into that last darkness.

By Avery K. Tingle
August 18, 2014

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Never Stop Growing.


One of my new sparring partners is a twenty-one year old Wing Chun and boxing expert. After we finished a brief-but-brutal match yeterday, I asked him what he thought he needed to improve. Without hesitation he replied; "Everything."

His humility got me thinking; one of life's great joys is the fact that we will never become perfect at any one thing. No matter what we achieve, or how long we hone our craft, there will always be another level to reach, if we seek it.

I've been a professional writer for six years now, and I'm only now grasping the basics. I wonder where I'll be ten years from now if I continue to practice.

The best thing we can do, as writers, creatives, martial artists, and human beings, is continue to evolve and develop our skills. Maybe we'll accomplish great things along the way, maybe we won't, but if we continue to grow and be better than we were, then we will never truly fail.

Thanks for reading

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Do No Harm, But Take No Shit.


Copyright (C) Avery K. Tingle 2014



Break time at a sales-based call center is a precious commodity. For just a few short moments, you get to step away from the phones and remember that the world is not filled with irate assholes who want to do unspeakable things to your wife or mother or brother or goat.

The group I run with at work, we can get a little rambunctious. So much so that we get dirty looks from some of the veterans, but one man in particular, we'll call him Jack. We were getting on his nerves professionally. He didn't say anything, at least at first, just sit off in his corner all by his lonesome, sigh heavily, and turn up the volume on whatever he was watching.

Eventually, after brusquely asking us to quiet down, he lodged a complaint with our trainer (to be fair, we didn't get any quieter). So I walked straight up to him, looked him right in his eye...and apologized.

I said that I was sorry for disturbing him during his break, and we would make a concerted effort to be quieter. He said he appreciated the gesture and that was that.

I spoke with my friends about his request. They were annoyed, but agreed, and were genuinely more quiet. So much so that the dirty looks stopped.

Except for Jack.

Jack would still huff and puff, even when we were library-quiet. Soon, we wouldn't even have to speak; it was merely our presence that would drive him into an asthma-inspired tizzy.
This went on for about a week until he stormed out of the break room, shooting one of the group a murderous look as he passed.

I told that person to please; re-define the meaning of loud.

I realized that I was causing someone unnecessary distress. I apologized for my actions and did my best to rectify the situation. When my best effort didn't work, I quit going out of my way to try to appease one person. For the record, no one has complained of our noise level since.

Some people cannot be pleased; some people prefer misery if they've grown accustomed to it. If you have done your absolute best to make a situation work, and for whatever reason the one you've worked for is still dissatisfied, then walk away with your head held high and don't lose sleep behind it. There is a line between trying to accommodate someone and letting them run over you.

Do no harm.
But take no shit.

Thank you for reading.

Friday, June 27, 2014

TransFormers 4: Age Of Extinction Reviewed (Spoiler-Free)


Michael Bay shows commendable maturity and uncharacteristic restraint behind the camera as he delivers the fourth film in the TransFormers franchise. A reboot disguised as a sequel, TransFormers 4: Age of Extinction is almost on par with the first film and far exceeds the last two over-caffeinated outings.

It's been four years since Megatron and the traitorous Sentinel Prime led the Decepticons in battle against the Autobots in Chicago. The battle resulted in the loss of thirteen hundred human lives and the destruction of the alliance between the Autobots and the world's armed forces. All TransFormers, Autobot and Decepticon alike, are being hunted and executed on sight. The survivors run and hide for their lives. Broke, desperate inventor Cade Yaeger (Mark Wahlberg) makes an alarming discovery, and the story takes off from there.

This is no longer about Autobot and Decepticon, it's about Autobots betrayed and run down by those they'd sworn to protect. Most visibly affected is the leader of the scattered Autobots, Optimus Prime, who is darker here than anything we may have seen him here to date. For the first time, we see the infallible leader question the very tenets that have made him such an endearing character over the years.

This is arguably the best human cast assembled for a live-action TransFormers movie. Mark Wahlberg fits, though he won't make you believe he's a nerd. He excellently demonstrates the all-consuming passion that every creator endures, so much so that he hasn't realized that his daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz, because Rosie Huntington-Whiteley wasn't available) has all but grown up. Her boyfriend Shane (Jack Reynor, who continuously fades into the background) comes through when needed, except for a moment at the film's comedic high point. Kelsey Grammar is absolutely harrowing as the antagonistic and completely ruthless Harold Attinger, whose motivations for wanting to see the TransFormers eradicated is only revealed at the end of the film. Stanley Tucci is, as always, flawlessly ridiculous.

Michael Bay actually paces the film to allow for character development instead of hopping from one blistering action sequence to the next. He manages to wait until just before the film's climax to unleash worldwide carnage. That isn't to say the other action sequences aren't up to snuff; it's a Michael Bay film, and he delivers.

TransFormers 4 holds the promise of a return to form for the franchise. I'm hoping it's a step in the right direction, instead of a hapless tumble down the corrupted rabbit hole, like the last two films were. This is worth seeing and especially worth the price of admission for 3-D.

Thanks for reading.