The 4 Loves: Friendship

This is an amazing speech my former professor and mentor, Dr. Louis Markos gave about love and friendship between the sexes. He addresses questions such as, “Can friends of the opposite sex ever just be friends?” as well as a lot good advice on marriage and relationships.

The Gospel According to the Dark Knight

In the wake what happened in Aurora, Colorado, many ask, “Why?” “How?” in confusion and pain. Like many people last night, I was watching the premier of the Dark Knight Rises. I had also gone to a marathon of the first two Chris Nolan movies right before. I’m sure many have noticed there is something eerie about the thematic elements of the movie and their connection to what happened in real life where, to our current knowledge, a man named James Holmes just wanted to “watch the world burn.” One of the reasons these movies touch so many people is because they strike a chord close to our hearts. A painful one that reveals our real nature. The solution is to admit it and seek redemption. But many will not. Many will insist this man was insane, an anomaly, an “aberration”. But was he?

The Dark Knight points out the evil in all of us. The main conflict Batman deals with in the wake of the Joker and Two Face is, what does it say about mankind when someone like Harvey Dent ends up pointing a gun at a mother and children. What does it say about us when a graduate student studying neuroscience in a Ph.D. program decides to kill as many people in a movie theater as he can in one night? Could this be why people are so quick to condemn this as an anomaly is a world of “good people”? Could it be that if a stand-up citizen in his right mind is capable of this, so am I? Jesus said whoever is even angry at his brother without cause is guilty of murder in his heart. Our actions define us. “…it’s not who you are underneath, it’s what you do that defines you.”

So what is the solution then? How then can we live? Can we be good? If so how? Just be good? The question we should really be asking is, “What do we need?” Whether knowingly or unknowingly, the writers of the Dark Knight movies gave a hint at the answer. Think about this first. The Devil or Satan: it’s not a name, it’s a title. In Hebrew it means ‘Accuser’. He accuses us of our sin. We stand in the courtroom of God and Satan is our prosecutor. He shows incontrovertible evidence of our guilt. We stand helpless before a holy God. What can we do? Who can defend us? Who will stand between us and the wrath of a patient God?

Now think about this: the villain essentially has the same motive in all three movies. He sees man as evil and believe we should be wiped out. But to do that, he sinks down to a hellish level of depravity himself. Ra’s, the Joker, and the villain of Rises prove corruption on every level of society.  Two-Face says, “You thought we could be decent men, in an indecent time! But you were wrong. The world is cruel, and the only morality in a cruel world is chance. Unbiased, unprejudiced… fair.” Justice, but no mercy. The people of Gotham need someone to save them. He accuses, but someone does stand between him and the people. “I’ll be standing where I belong. Between you and the people of Gotham” says Bruce to Ra’s al Ghul.

“Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” “Abraham called on the name of the LORD.” “Salvation belongs to the LORD” cries Jonah from the belly of the fish. And what is the name of the Lord? Jesus, or in Hebrew Y’shua, means God saves. No one else. We cannot save ourselves. Only God himself and step down and stand between us and condemnation. How? Because he took the blame on himself even to the point of death on a cross.

Picture the end of the second movie. Harvey Dent lies dead in his sins. But he is yet redeemed, at least in the eyes of the people. How?

“I killed those people. That’s what I can be.” says Batman.

“… a hero. Not the hero we deserved- the hero we needed. Nothing less than a knight. Shinning…” says Gordon.

Batman assures him, “You’ll condemn me, set the dogs on me… because it’s what needs to happen.”

James looks at his father confused, “He didn’t do anything wrong! Why, dad? Why?!”

“… we’ll hunt him, because he can take it.”

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (Paul).

In Rises (HOLY SPOILERS BATMAN!), Batman goes through his own sort of death and resurrection. He is spiritually dead, in a prisoner (though innocent) that is a clear metaphor for hell, being simply a giant pit. He emerges as the prisoner chant, “Rise. Rise. Rise. Rise.” returning to life. Why? To save the very city that turned its back on him as well as a woman (Catwoman) who betrayed him into the hands of his enemy. She seeks a “clean slate” to wipe her past away. Batman has it. He offers it to her unconditionally.

“Maybe it’s time we stop trying to outsmart the truth and let it have its day.” – Alfred

Phineas and Ferb meet Marvel Superheroes… LOL WUT?

Production is now underway on “Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel,” an animated adventure that will assemble characters from two hugely popular franchises, Disney’s “Phineas and Ferb” and Marvel’s iconic Super Heroes:  Spider-Man and The Avengers (Iron Man, Thor and Hulk).  The epic television event, premiering in summer 2013 on Disney Channel, will mark the first crossover animated television special for Marvel and Disney properties.  Working closely with Marvel’s creative team, “Phineas and Ferb” creators and executive producers Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh are designing Marvel’s Super Heroes and Super Villains including Red Skull, Whiplash, Venom and M.O.D.O.K. to fit the Danville world of the Emmy Award-winning series.

Spidey Round Up

Remember my previous post on Ultimate Spider-man? I now take all that back. Why? One word: Spider-cyle…

That and this show is just unbelievably annoying! They can’t go 30 seconds without breaking the 4th wall and talking to you! The show is WAY to crowded with characters and villains you just don’t care about. To be fair I can’t find fault in the talent behind the show. They’ve got some great people working on it. But again, I can hear some stupid executive saying, “We gotta give Spidey a cool motorcycle and make Aunt May cooler! And have more cool gadgets he can use!” I’m gonna vomit. And the story is literally going nowhere fast. And yes, you can take both the nowhere and the fast part VERY literally.

I watched it today only because I was stuck at home sick. Afterwards, I had to cleanse my mind by watching Spectacular Spider-man again. And it made me even more upset that there’s no season 3… So I googled it like ya do…

Here’s what Greg Weisman said,

Greg responds…

Marvel DIDN’T cancel it.

It’s all very complicated, and we were certainly the recipients of bad corporate luck, but no single company cancelled the series. We just wound up with a situation where no single company could proceed with it.

I’ll try to break it all down:

1. Sony had originally produced SpecSpidey as part of their overall entertainment license of the Spidey property (which of course included the extremely lucrative live action films).

2. But in order to win some concession on those live action feature films, Sony returned the animation rights to the character back to Marvel.

3. So now only Marvel could produce a Spider-Man cartoon. Sony no longer could, which meant SpecSpidey couldn’t continue at Sony.

4. I have no idea whether Marvel was interested in continuing Spectacular Spider-Man or not. But let’s assume for the sake of argument that they would have liked to.

5. They couldn’t.

6. Why? Because Sony owned all the specific elements (designs, storyline, etc.) to the SpecSpidey VERSION of Spider-Man. So Marvel would have had to license all that BACK from Sony.

7. You can imagine how unlikely THAT scenario was. Marvel finally gets the rights back to do an animated version of their marquee character, and then they have to pay Sony to do it instead of just starting from scratch. That was never going to happen.

8. Of course, all this was complicated by the fact that Disney purchased Marvel, and Disney and Sony are direct competitors.

9. And I’m sure Marvel was excited to put their own stamp on an animated Spider-Man. Who could blame them?

10. So that was it. We were toast through no fault of our own. The folks at Marvel, Sony and even Disney all seemed to like our show, but the corporate mess made it impossible for us to continue.

11. And, yes, it is a bummer. (For me, at least.) But it’s no single person or single company’s fault. It’s just how things shook out.

12. And finally, though I have no involvement with the upcoming Ultimate Spider-Man, you can’t deny that a lot of great people have worked on it. There’s no reason to think it won’t be as good or better than SpecSpidey. To a certain generation, SpecSpidey will always be THEIR Spider-Man cartoon. But to a new batch o’ viewers, I’m sure their Spidey of choice will be the Ultimate.

There may still be hope though. Maybe if enough sign the petitions… Well, it can’t hurt. So sign!
http://www.petitiononline.com/petitions/ss3w3625/signatures?page=1
http://www.change.org/petitions/marvel-bring-back-the-spectacular-spider-man
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bring-back-the-spectacular-spiderman-for-a-third-season/261337810583530

In other news there is also a major motion picture reboot… ya mighta herd of it…

I’ll keep it brief. I liked it overall better than the previous movies. Mainly because of the intimate realistic take. There were some flaws. I would have taken more cues from the aforementioned animated series in terms of setting up future characters. Peter’s journey as a hero wasn’t quite as moving as Raimi’s take. But it was at least very emotional. I also thought it was too melodramatic at times. It just seemed a bit forced; especially the soundtrack. But at least Garfield pulled some funny quips that were missing from the Raimi films. I’m looking forward to see where the new series takes us. At least this helps makes up for the disaster that is Ultimate Spider-man.

Looney Tunes CGI

This came out a while ago, but I finally found it on YouTube. It’s a Looney Tunes CGI short using a song Mel Blanc recorded before he died. It’s nice to hear his voice again. I’m impressed with the animation. They really did their homework on this one. They even created some new CGI techniques to mimic what the old animators like Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng and Bob Clampett did. You can also find a couple of Roadrunner Shorts they made before this on YouTube as well.

According to this interview on AWN, Jay Redd says “I grew up on the Road Runner cartoons like everyone else and so being able to take Chuck Jones’ work into three dimensions was an honor, and also a huge challenge. To not just make 3-D versions of the characters, but to inhabit the spirit of the way Chuck Jones’ work was done. When you start deconstructing the work that he and his animators did, there are all sorts of things that are happening in-between frames, and in-between cuts. How would you recreate that stuff in three dimensions? Working with the Reel FX team, we developed a bunch of different methods for creating, say, motion blur in 3D, without using “motion blur”. In a Chuck Jones drawing, you might have six versions of a hand going by made out of paint strokes. How could we actually make that happen in stereo?”

Basically, most people would have incorporated real motion blurs for fast movements. But to keep to the spirit of Looney Tunes (and animation IMO) they actually created different models for the motions blurs so the characters have the hand-drawn feel.

Daffy’s Rhapsody is also on YouTube but it’s a recording from a camera in a theater. It’s a really good short, but I hope it comes out on DVD soon.