Thor Ragnarok teaser

Thor Ragnarok teaser is already the most viewed trailer on YouTube in 24 hours. It is well deserved because the amount of money shots here are insane even for a trailer and its a teaser. Here is how this trailer promises to fix issues and hint bigger things form Marvel:

  • Finally a good Thor movie, hopefully. The last two were not particularly good.
  • Hulk’s previous movies were plain bad and since Hulk is not getting another one, this might be the best chance for him to shine and it looks like he will smash.
  • Color Grading. Many have criticized Marvel for its washed out grey color grading. This trailer shows a world full of bright colors and design reminiscent of Guardians of the Galaxy, which is a step in the right direction. (DC movies has it worse as it’s hard to see anything with all the darkness. Wonder Woman trailers show they are addressing this problem but at the same time the JL trailer still looks a little too dark.)
  • New Genera. Thor Ragnarok looks fresh because it is more like a buddy road trip interplanetary space adventure story.
  • 2 birds with one stone. Hela resolves Marvel’s villain problem and strong female character issue at the same time. One can’t get any stronger than Hela when Thanos, the most powerful being in MCU rn, is destroying half the universe just to impress her. Also she can’t be killed so I think by they end of Thor 3 she will probably leave Asgard or go back to her domain, hell for a short time because she has a big role to play in the infinity war movies. I am still not over how Cate Blanchett says ‘Asgard is dead”. She was made for this role.
  • Music is better. Marvel is blamed for not having music memorable enough. GotG vol.1 sound track had a big part in it’s success and looks like Thor 3 is following the footsteps. Electronic media worldwide has learned the art of using nostalgia to it’s maximum effect from TV ads to trailers but Marvel just does it better. As the demand is high, soon there will be a new job of song scouts, people who find the right nostalgic song for your ad campaign.
  • A good trailer. James Gunn has already called it the best MCU trailer when all his GotG trailers are just as good. MCU have had many amazing ones but so far DCEU had better with all Suicide Squad, Batman vs Superman and Wonder Woman trailers. This however might be the best comic book trailer yet. Hope the movie is just as good because I am not very confident about its writers. They have a bad record. Fingers crossed.

NonSuperHero Comics

Non-superhero comics have gained a lot of popularity in the past couple of years. Here is the list of non-superhero graphic novels that I have read and liked this year.
Sci-fi:

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East of West: A sci-fi western but this description is no justice to this series. The Texas-western part is only a small part of the greater whole. There are also other cultures like Chinese, African, American-Indian and technologically advanced humans etc that all are enemies joined in a UN type alliance, in a world that is about to end. The four horseman are here but Death like always have plans of his own. The story, dialogue and artworks are perfection. I have never been suck so deep in a comic book ever in my life.

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Saga: Its been called ‘the StarWars meets Game of Thrones’ of graphic novels but it is not really true. Except for the occasional nudity, many characters of which some keep dying and the insane success of this series in the comic book world… wait a second, I see why would someone called it that, specially with the space setting and strange species.

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Paper Girls: The writer of Saga and artist of new Wonder Woman series join forces to create this amazing mystery, vintage, teenage adventure series that became a summer hit recently. If this sounds like Stranger Things to you, it’s because it actually is, just with girls in lead roles instead of boys and also time travel.
Honorable Mentions: Freak Angels, Drifter, Arcadia, Limbo

Fantasy:

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Spindrift: Although it ended abruptly, its 100 pages so far are far too good in both artwork and story to deny it the number one spot.

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The Wicked + The Divine: Has that classic Sandman vibe to it but it is much more. What if Lucifer was a musician and gets power from his fan following. Still on issue 3 but truly loving it so far.

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Monstress: Don’t know why I am including it but it’s been getting a lot of attention lately for have a female lead that curses a lot which I do not like but it has amazing artwork and setting of alternate-Asia. My main problem with this one is the cliche story and dialogue, and way too many female characters. Sounds wrong complaining about the excess of beautifully drawn women but it’s really annoying when reading. It’s like men do not exist in this world but you can say the same about women in Lord of the Rings. God forgive me if I compare it to Tolkien’s work but you have to agree LotR has too many male characters and opposite is the case with this one. Still the art is way too good so we will let the story slide.
Honourable Mentions: The Wolf Sister, Autumnland, Heathen (If an Amazonian becomes a Viking), Weirdworld, Low, Death Vigil, Pathfinder

Funny/Comedy: All 3 entries here have superpowers but they are not your traditional superhero comic books.

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Ms Marvel, Kamala Khan: Been fan of this series every since the first issue came out and like many other series with Pakistani characters it this not disappoint. A teenage Pakistani-American Muslim girl who gets Mr Fantastic like powers with a healing factor. This series is funny but also very real. Her day to day problems include dealing with a Pakistani family, meet the challenges of a Muslim girl in America and fighting super villains. Also she is a big fan-girl and not only is her Avengers fan-fiction doing good online, she also often gets to team up with all the famous Marvel superheros.

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The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: The best superhero in town. She has already yielded the infinity gauntlet and defeated Thanos single handedly while being cool and funny at the same time. The avengers have the bars set high by this undeniably likable squirrel.

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Chew: If this picture looks familiar, it’s because it is da Vinci’s the Last Supper with Chew characters. This series is full of stuff like this for the fans of pop culture. In a world where selling and/or eating chicken is a crime punishable by seven years to a lifetime in prison, this is the story of a detective, Tony Chu who has the power to chew into a food (or human) and know everything it/they have done or been through in the past. A fun read except it is not for the foodies. You were warned.

Dr.Strange and a Marvel fanboy

Yesterday I got to see Dr. Strange and it was unexpectedly marvelous. I was not expecting much from this movie, not many Marvel fans were but Marvel really has delivered big once again. This is Marvel’s 13th/14 consecutive critical and commercial success in MCU (Incredible Hulk was baaad). I was also not expecting it to be this funny while also beautifully handling deeper themes and magic stuff. Many were thinking of it just as Marvel tries to release it’s “magic movie” before Fantastic Beasts comes out. How wrong they must feel now. In 3th week of it’s release and with 256 reviews Dr.Strange is still going strong with 92% on rotten tomatoes. Fantastic Beasts released this week is at 76% with 155 reviews. The ratings of both will go down but it’s the early ratings that matter. When a movie starts at 76% it mostly ends at 60 something after the crazy fans have cooled down like for BatsVSupes or Suicide Squad. It’s unfair to compare both. FBs has the advantage of the harry potter fan base but is based on a small booklet that is supposed to be a text book in the story of another book series. Strange although a Marvel movie is not taken as seriously by the fans as FBs but is based of years of comic book stories. Although both movies were written for film and not strongly tied to the source material, FBs has the advantage that it’s type of magic is already explained in 8 movies. Strange had to introduce it’s own type of magic for the first time. Magic movies have the problem of having no limits to powers. They can do anything with magic. In Dr. Strange however magic is basically science (quantum mechanics). Although they didn’t explain it in the movie it is fairly obvious from the look of it that this type of magic is more sci-fiction than fantasy. The best aspects of the movie are the visuals and actor’s performances. Not only Benedict but the whole cast really played their roles very convincingly. The visuals of this movie will make you forget those mind bending 30 second clips in inception. It doesn’t get anywhere near as brilliantly complex as Inception was but visually Strange is more stunning. The amount of research they did in even the background elements and moving mirrors and patterns is insane, knowing that no one really gives any attention to such minute details (I noticed because MatPat pointed out by the end of above linked video). These moving patterns are fractals (infinitely repeating patterns) that are different in each scene depending on the type of magic used or the emotion of the scene to artistically match the meaning of that pattern. That’s an art student’s essay right there; linking each pattern to it’s meaning in the scene. While mirror world scenes are basically abstract art pieces the whole movie itself is exceptionally detailed. At any time the objects around are all moving and feel alive on their own. The explosions, transitions and pieces felt not like any other 3D movie I have ever seen. There are some parts of the movie however that raise same old questions about Marvel movies in general that can be explained.

1) ‘Dr.strange is Tony Stark with magic powers’ (All Marvel movies are the same). To be fair all origin story movies are the same. They have to follow ‘the hero’s journey‘ formula to be successful. Like any good origin movie it doesn’t let you feel disconnected at any point while introducing and making you like characters you haven’t seen before. If that was the target, I don’t see if they have failed in any way. Now that the character is introduced, they can explore a complete story in a movie. If you notice all superhero movies have just a good origin movie and then the 2nd one is comes with better story and bigger threats. Iron-man, Thor, Captain-American, all have kinda boring 1st movies compared to the scope of their later movies. (Guardians of the galaxy is an exception.) This is because once you have established the character’s road to power and audience understand his motivations, it is easy to focus entirely on telling a better story.

2) Easily Forgettable Villains: Dormammu is treated as a joke. Kaecilius’s motivations do not really come through properly. Basically, just 2 more easily forgettable Marvel villains. The answer is simple, Marvel didn’t want it’s villains to be memorable right now. People demand more of a villain when they like him and are disappointed to not see him in future movies. Marvel can’t do that right now. You built a memorable villain (like Loki) when you know he will be a regular part of the ongoing MCU story line. Kaecilius, Dormammu or any other marvel villain so far are just one time threats preparing our heroes for the big bad, Thanos. That is a constant threat that they always show by the end of their movies. The ending was actually my favorite part. I was thinking, okay here we go again with the beam of light in the sky while a powerful being comes to destroy earth, but they handled it nicely. Dormammu was not treated as a joke. It was a battle of wits between two powerful beings and showed how Dr.Strange is willing to suffer infinite pain over and over again to save earth. This was his true hero moment which is very different from any other movie. Or would you rather like it to be the same old fight in the sky like Man of Steel or Ninja Turtles? Also by the end of the movie his hands are still shaking. He can reverse time on his hands and heal them but he doesn’t. A hero’s principles are what makes him different from a villain. He does not bend rules to suit his needs. Also it is a story of a man who thought he knows everything but is introduced to a whole world he didn’t knew exist. It is a man of science to a man of faith story. Iron-man don’t have that. He is a rock-star, usay roz hota hai pyaar. He has no time for deeper meaning and touchy feelings. Dr.Strange however has to deal with it and since one day he will become one of the most powerful beings in the universe, it is important for his character to stay in touch with such deeper themes.

3) They gave Dr.Strange photographic memory. So in the movie it is explained that Strange can learn fast because he has a photographic memory. In the comics, like they also hinted in the trailers, he is a hard worker and spends years practicing his magic to perfection. Answer is, they had to do it. In case you didn’t notice Dr. Strange is still not the Sorcerer Supreme by the end of the movie but only the guardian of New York sanctum. Sorcerer Supreme is one of the most powerful entities in the Marvel comics. He can defeat Thanos and his army alone. The movie established that although he has learned a lot quickly he has still not mastered everything and still needs years of practice. He is not ready to save the earth from Thanos or any other big villain because he has not reached his true potential yet. If he did become SS in his 1st movie the sequels or the whole infinity war will be pointless.

Continue reading “Dr.Strange and a Marvel fanboy”

British Invasion

The British Empire held Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, India, Fiji, Scotland, Hong Kong, Burma, Oman, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, the Maldives, South Africa, Swaziland, Nigeria and parts of America and China to name a few. (wiki-map). In simple words there are only 22 countries currently independent that were never invaded by British. The current area of ‘Great Britain’ is almost equal to that of our Punjab. There hold however on the world’s culture still remains. Like the worldwide consent of fair skin being more beautiful than any other skin tone. But does it really? I know the concept of beauty is relative and changes with location and time but even 1400 years ago before all these Europeans had such a cultural impact on the world culture, Islam describes ‘hoors’ to be the color of milk. Milk as we all know is white (duh) and hoors are supposed to be the most beautiful humanoids a person can imagine. Every religion in the world associates white color with beauty and purity. This makes me question if beauty really is relative? Are humans designed to hold the descendants of an ancient family, now called Europeans, as the standard of beauty with their fair skin, and eyes and hair of all colors and shades? and then there are the accents.

Continue reading “British Invasion”

The curious case of Umair Jaswal

Morning breeze after rainfall and radio playing your favourite song; moments cannot get any better than this. People go for a long drive to relax. Pakistanis do to critisize other drivers on the road. If there is one thing we love more than poondi, its pointless critisizm. Music is in our soul and CokeStudio, with its 8 seasons and no chance of slowing down, has just cashed in on it. Every season they give us so much to critisize while still enjoy quality music. ‘Sammi Meri Waar’ by Umair Jaswal and QB, went viral not coz it is a good song, although it is, but for the sole reason of the odd contrast it created when Jaswal, a rock musician, was dancing to it while QB, a somewhat pop-classic singer, was standing still with a blank face. The song went so viral it was aired in several countiries. As of Umair, he says that although he has recieved a lot of hate, with hateful audio replies from countries like Iraq and negative youtube responses, his facebook followers increased by 160 thousand in a week of the song release. For a whole day Umair Jaswal was amoung the top 10 twitter trend worldwide. Its a good song but cokestudio has produced many good songs repeatedly. Its not like Jaswal was planning the whole thing, but he has been producing music for more than 10 years now without any notable success. Things like these, and days like this, you never know when fame hit you. You just have to stop critisizing others, keep doing your own thing and hope that the others critisize you more than they do others.

ParaNatural

Once there were two brothers. Younger brother Sammy Ullah and elder brother Salah-ud-Dean. Their father had a fight with thier mother and she left them to go live at her maikay-ghar. Saludin takes care of Sami while their father is at work. However Saludin is obsessed with Umroo-Ayar horror stories and reads them to Sami. These story booklets come free with 10Rs papar which they both like. Their father have often told them that it’s not good for their stomach but kids are kids. Being home alone with nothing else to do, with time they invented their own jin-fighting pretend game. As Sami goes to school and Saludin don’t, Sami is more inclined towards StarWars. He wanted Jedi force but Saludin didn’t wanted to spoil his jin-bhoot game with scifi stuff so he didnt let him at first. However later when Sami insisted, he let him use jedi powers but only rarely. Sami cries sometimes for daddy but Saludin tells him that they have to complete their ‘mission’ first and then they will go to him. As their father comes very late, Sami often sleeps before he returns and wakes when he is already gone early morning. Thus most of the stuff his father says come to him in third person from Saludin. And it goes on and on. Supernatural-poster

This story may seem familiar because its kinda the behind-the-series story of Supernatural s1. They say don’t judge a book by its cover. Similarly don’t judge supernatural by its first season. Give it a chance. It gets better (or it will lose its charm. Totally depending on the viewer). You can watch first 2 eps and then last 2 of the 1st season if you are in a rush to catch up. But I won’t recommend rushing through as it’s only good as an ep to ep show, basically a serial than a series. After watching 5 seasons I think it has as much plot as WWE. It has a pinch of all the ingredients for a great show, like fun, drama and suspense. If you are not a big scifi fan, it’s even better. Also good if you like Ainak Wala Jin coz its definetly not a horror show. Bad choice if you want explainations like how-stuff-works and why-this. God, Angels even Devil is a joke here. Still there is a lot of fan following and most of my friends are watching it, so maybe there is something really good about this show that I am not getting. Definetly worth a shot.