Sunday, February 26, 2012


Sunday is the 84th Annual Academy Awards or "Oscars"! Every year, eager film fanatics await the announcement of the winners of this prestigious award. While many of the winners are well deserved of this honor many of these films that win, most of us (including me) haven't even seen! Many of the films who are nominated are either artsy-fartsy period pieces or intense politically-driven (with an agenda) melodramas. (Although the one time I was actually surprised was when Lord of the Rings: Return of the King won in 2004!) Very rarely do the movies I enjoy over the year ever win or for that matter even get nominated, while others make you wonder how they ended up on the ballot in the first place. Sure you may be thinking I'm just the product of mass media and over-blown marketing and merchandising of mainstream movies...and you may be right. But who cares, this year I look back and share my own Oscar Picks and assorted "Besties" in some of my own categories! And the "Oscar" goes to...

Best Animated Feature: Rango, Dir. Gore Verbinski
Best Visual Effects: Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dir. Rupert Wyatt
Best Writing: Limitless, Leslie Dixon (screenplay) and Alan Glynn (novel)
Best Original Music Score: Hans Zimmer, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Best Song in a Soundtrack: "Walk" , Foo Fighters, Thor
Best Original Song: "Man or Muppet", The Muppets
Best Comic Book Movie: X-Men First Class, Dir. Matthew Vaughn
Best Sound Effects: Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon, Dir. Michael Bay
Best Documentary: Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
Best Foreign Film: Trollhunter (Trolljegeren ), Dir. André Øvredal
Best Independent Film: Red State, Dir. Kevin Smith
Best Comedy: Paul, Dir. Greg Mottola, Starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost
Best Sci-Fi Movie: Cowboys & Aliens, Dir. Jon Favreau, Starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford
Best Horror Movie: The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence), Dir. Tom Six
Best Babe: Rooney Mara (Lisbeth Salander), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Best Badass: Michael Fassbender (Eric Lensher/Magneto) X-Men: First Class
Best HeroCaptain America, Starring: Chris Evans, Dir. Joe Johnston,
Best Director: Kenneth Branagh, Thor
Best Picture: Super 8, Dir. J.J. Abrams


Sunday, February 19, 2012


When the first Ghost Rider movie was first released in 2007, I was one happy fanboy! Ghost Rider had always been one of my favorite characters and I was hoping and praying (or making deals with the devil!) that maybe, just maybe, the filmmakers would treat Ghost Rider well..But sadly, like many fans and critics, Ghost Rider fell short of it's expectations and was disappointing. For the most part, it did fairly well in the theaters and I even admittedly bought the DVD (the 3-Disc Special Edition!). I have always been a big fan of Nicolas Cage, from his 80's comedies, to his 90's action movies and even his more recent roles. But there are always a few that never seem quite to fit him right. After Ghost Rider, I felt that there has to be someone who could perhaps be better for the role, someone maybe more dark and less quirky. I could even accept a change in casting for the sequel, maybe include Danny Ketch (90's era Ghost Rider). Marvel movies have done it before, like Ray Stevenson replacing Thomas Jane as The Punisher. Either way, I was looking forward to the sequel, but after seeing it, I almost didn't know what to think...
Ghost Rider: The Spirit of Vengeance is more of a quasi-sequel to 2007's movie in that it is the same character played by the same actor BUT with some very unusual changes...Johnny Blaze, being the host for the Ghost Rider; a demonic spirit of vengeance, once the Devil's bounty hunter, now wanders the earth and for some reason finds himself in Eastern Europe!? We see a more cynical, tired and haggard Johnny who is in hiding and just wants to be left alone. Then he somehow gets involved in a religious plot to find and destroy the Antichrist! Followed by an eccentric priest, Moreau (Idris Elba, who played Heimdall in Thor (2011), Johnny is recruited to protect a young boy Danny (Fergus Riordan) and his mother Nadya (Violante Placido) from the evil Roarke (Ciarán Hinds) and his henchman Ray Carrigan (Johnny Whitworth). Johnny soon learns the truth behind the plot to kidnap Danny and must become Ghost Rider to stop Roarke and his Satanic cult!
Directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (Crank (2006), Gamer (2009)), who bring their distinct and extreme style, along with Nicolas Cage's eccentric performance, makes Ghost Rider: The Spirit of Vengeance a very bizarre movie, full of abstract music video-like imagery, combined with the occasional animated (and unnecessary) exposition sequence. The whole movie seems at odds with itself in relating just how crazy it all is, with all the dark imagery and fast-paced action along with Cage's behavior, it's like the movie can't decide whether it's a comic book-action, horror or comedy! As for the 3D release, as I've said before in other movies, doesn't really add anything to the experience, all we get out of it is a few stray flames or whipping chains. There are two very surprising although brief cameos that many moviegoers may find interesting including Anthony Head (best known for Giles on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as Benedict, a monk and also Christopher Lambert (Highlander) as Methodius, a bald, tattooed, priest.
The image of the Ghost Rider himself has changed drastically from the first movie, less about leather and spikes and more fire and smoke. The more traditional appearance of Ghost Rider has been minimized but enhanced to include more edge. Gone is his stylish leather jacket adorned with studs and chains, now he seems to be in a constant state of burning as the leather literally melts and bubbles around him from the heat. Also, his once clean polished skull is now charred and blackened. His bike has also changed from the chrome-skulled Harley from the first movie to a more sport bike style, reminiscent of the original 1970's Ghost Rider. The Ghost Rider's powers have also changed, while he still uses his trademark chains, he no longer utilizes his Penance Stare. Not only does his bike change when he transforms but he is now able to channel his power into other vehicles from construction machines to trucks. Not to mention his Hellfire vomit!
Ghost Rider, 2007 & 2012
The harshest criticism comes from Nicolas Cage's acting style as Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider. While his over-the-top portrayal may be conducive to the bizarre nature of the character but his eccentric performance at times becomes almost laughable to the point where the apparent insanity of the character is overly-exaggerated.  In a recent Fangoria (#310, Feb. 2012) interview with Nicolas Cage, he refers to his experimental acting style as "mega-acting", describing it as "operatic". While it was revealed that Nicolas Cage played more of the Ghost Rider in this one than the first movie which was more often a stuntman. His strange, jerky motions in several scenes come across as just odd. While in the first movie the Ghost Rider was depicted as slower and more melodramatic. As for the film-making of Crank director duo Neveldine and Taylor, the fast-paced and extremely edgy style add an extra level of intensity to what already is a dark and scary ride!

"What I'm really happy about is just how psychedelic it is. The whole movie is abstract. Mark and Brian are directors who have a voice - just the fact that they're willing to risk their lives to entertain you...It's extreme-sports filmmaking, and I know some people find it overstylized or frenetic, but I find it artistic and exciting." - Nicolas Cage, Fangoria

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Official Website:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day! Top 10 Comic Book Romances

X-Men Wedding
Let's get something straight...I HATE Valentine's Day!!! The whole holiday is just a pathetic excuse for candy and greeting card companies to make a buck! While most of these feelings come from personal bias, I admit I have been happily single for years. I really feel that I'm not alone in this as there are many a lonely and single nerd out there reading this blog instead of being with their significant other or "sweetheart". If you're a nerdy comic book fan like me who is more content to read their comics and fantasize about the many scantly clad super-heroines than seek out meaningful human companionship then you've come to the right place! However, after many years of enjoying comic book superheroes, I realize that there are more stories about superheroes' relationships and weddings than there are in even the smuttiest of soap operas! So this year, I thought I'd explore the more romantic side of comics as CHERNOBOG'S BLOG Presents: The Top 10 Comic Book Romances! So all you mushy types, enjoy...

#10 Aquaman & Mera - Aquaman #18, (Dec. 1964) - While Aquaman has long been considered one of the lamest (talks to fish!) superheroes in the DC Universe he at least is one of the few heroes who found love and got hitched! When Mera came along from another undersea dimension, they soon fell in love and when Aquaman was crowned King of Atlantis he soon married Mera with the whole Justice League of America was in attendance.

#9 Green Lantern & Star Sapphire - As the love interest of Green Lantern/Hal Jordan, Carol Ferris was also his boss at Ferris Aircraft. But when Carol became possessed by the alien Zamarons and becomes Star Sapphire and one of Green Lantern's most worthy adversaries. Later, during the Blackest Night storyline it was revealed there was a whole group of Star Sapphires, which gave a whole new meaning to "The Power of Love".

#8 The Joker & Harley Quinn, Batman: The Animated Series - While The Joker was incarcerated at Arkham Asylum, he was treated by an up and coming psychiatrist named Dr. Harleen Quinzelle. As Joker gains sympathy and manipulates her, she soon falls under his influence and breaks him out of the asylum and joins his ranks as Harley Quinn! While their relationship is literally insane and quite possibly the most obvious textbook case of dependance and abuse you could still call it a "happy" one.

Batman & Talia
#7 Colossus & Shadowcat, X-Men - One of the most touching and tragic love stories in the story of the X-Men is the relationship between Colossus ((Peter Rasputin) and Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde). After sacrificing himself to find a cure for the Legacy virus. Apparently the villain Ord had taken his body and left a duplicate in his place which was cremated by the X-Men and Kitty even took the ashes to Russia. When it was revealed that Colossus was alive (Astonishing X-Men) Kitty and Peter rekindled their romantic relationship.

#6  Batman & Talia al Ghul - Probably one of the strangest romances in the DC Universe; as the daughter of the megalomaniacal Ra's al Ghul, one of Batman's most dangerous villains, Talia has always been torn between her loyalty to her father and her love towards Batman. Now, as the new Demon's Head and leader of the League of Assasins, it was revealed that Talia had a genetically engineered son, Damian, who is in fact the child of Batman and Talia!

#5 Wolverine & Mariko, The Uncanny X-Men #172-173 (1983) Mariko Yashida was the head of the Yashida clan who fell in love with Logan/Wolverine and was to be married. After a long and complicated relationship Wolverine discovers Mariko's family is involved with the Yakuza, Japanese mafia, and Mariko soon calls off the wedding.

#4 Mr. Fantastic & The Invisible Woman, Fantastic Four Annual #3, 1965 - When the wedding of Reed Richards and Sue Storm is announced Dr. Doom sees this as the perfect chance for him to exact his revenge, so he gathers all of the most dangerous villains (including Sub-Mariner) together and uses the high-frequency emotion charger to "fan the flames of hatred..."!

#3 Spider-Man & Mary Jane, The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21, 1987 - "The Wedding!" was one of the biggest events in Marvel Comics history with the marriage between Spider-Man/Peter Parker and long-time girlfriend Mary Jane Watson, who's relationship has been one of the longest standing in comics.

#2 Cyclops & Jean Grey, X-Men Vol. 2, #30 (March, 1994) - Scott Summers (Cyclops) and Jean Grey (a.k.a. Marvel Girl & Phoenix) finally tie the knot in this special issue entitled "The Ties That Bind", the only one not in attendance is of course Wolverine (big surprise!).

#1 Superman & Lois Lane, Superman: The Wedding Album (Dec. 1996) - The long-awaited wedding of Clark Kent and Lois Lane was quite possibly the most anticipated comic book event in the history of comic books. While many Superman/Wedding story lines over the last 60 years have been either hoaxes, dreams or imaginary tales, this issue was considered legit and coincided with the TV show wedding in "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of  Superman". A significant detail of the Wedding issue had contributions from all five of the Superman titles writers and every living major artist who had ever worked on Superman!

Friday, February 10, 2012


On February 10, 2012, Star Wars fans will be able to experience the re-release of Star Wars - Episode I: The Phantom Menace in 3D! Unfortunately, I will NOT be one of them...for several reasons:

#1 I admit that I already own Episode I on Blu-ray, DVD and even on VHS.
#2 I refuse to spend $12 or more for any movie ticket.
#3 I cannot stand 3D! (I get enough headaches watching Episode I as it is!)
#4 Jar Jar Binks and Jake Lloyd!!
#5 I'm BROKE!
#6 Did I mention Jar Jar Binks? Yeah, he's twice as bad!
While I'm sure many fans will be going to experience it (again) instead of a review, I thought I'd take this time to present a retrospective on Episode I and how it changed Star Wars and made me the angry nerd I am today...

May 19, 1999 marked the release of THE most anticipated movie in the last 20 years: STAR WARS - EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE! For months, eager fans like myself awaited the release of what was sure to become a pop-culture phenomenon, some waiting in line in front of theaters many weeks before tickets were even available. For what was to be the beginning of a new trilogy in the Star Wars Saga, and the start of three prequels which would begin a new era for Star Wars fans both young and old, Episode I was to be the rebirth of a franchise. For many fans who had grown up with the Star Wars saga (like myself) this movie would turn out to be both a curse and a blessing. But for many fans, Episode I was a complete and utter disappointment... and we've been spending the last 13 years complaining about it!

We constantly berate George Lucas, who was considered for the longest time a prophet among nerds and his Skywalker Ranch was like nerd Mecca. The ingenious filmmaker who created a new mythology that many revere as an integral part of their lives and for some, even their own personal belief systems (i.e. Jedi Church). We both were shocked and awed by the release of the original Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition (1997) as Lucas sought help from the 'Dark Side of the Force' in utilizing state-of-the-art Computer Generated Images to "improve" on what was already a modern movie masterpiece. Even later, he would rely even more on this new found medium to enhance the new trilogy in the form of prequels with Episode I and then in 2002 with Episode II: Attack of the Clones and then finally Episode III: Revenge of the Sith in 2005. Recently, I had some second thoughts on what I previously regarded as the greatest travesty in the Star Wars Universe, after reading an article in the October 2011 issue of Star Wars Insider, written by Fanboys (2008) director Kyle Newman about the impact of Episode I:

"Star Wars was everywhere you looked. It was inescapable. Even the most cynical fan was pulled in like a tractor beam. More than just a re-launch of one of the most beloved stories of modern times for a whole new generation of would-be Padawans, it was a celebration of all things Star Wars and every fan was a part of it!" - Kyle Newman, "Phanboy!"

I realized that there may be more to Episode I than I had previously considered, although in no way will I renounce the many faults and gripes I have about Episode I. As a devoted Star Wars, fan I cannot deny it's existence or therefore it's importance in the Star Wars Saga as a whole. While it may be the least watched in my Star Wars collection (along with Episode II) it does however rank higher than the mid-80's Ewok movies and that's saying a lot! I think for the most part Episode I does have some merit although I doubt I will be seeing it again on the big screen (or for that matter in 3D). But truly, I think Kyle Newman said it best in his article:

"No matter how you feel about Episode I, you have to applaud Lucas' tremendous cinematic vision. Seeing the film on the big screen was an affirmation of everything we have ever loved about Star Wars...But The Phantom Menace will always be bigger than just a movie. It changed Star Wars forever, sending a shockwave through fandom, with reverberations that are still felt today..."
May The Force Be With You!

Friday, February 3, 2012


February is BLACK METAL MONTH!!! As a heavy metal fan I enjoy many sub-genres of metal from Power Metal to Death Metal and Thrash to Hardcore. But no other genre of metal is as extreme and feared in the heavy metal world other than BLACK METAL! Known for their shrieking vocals, fast and heavy distorted guitar sounds, Black Metal is laced with occult and often Satanic themes. Much like early Black Sabbath, Black Metal's rise in popularity in the U.S. during the 1980's and their more extreme incarnations in Norway in the 1990's make Black Metal one of the most infamous and controversial sub-genres of metal. While many fans have their favorites and will argue until Hell freezes over who is truly black metal or just some poser in corpse-paint! This month CHERNOBOG'S BLOG celebrates Black Metal Month with a list of the Top 10 Black Metal Bands! So put on your black leather and spikes and slap on some corpse paint! Welcome to HELL...

#10 Enslaved - Considered to be a Progressive Black Metal band, Enslaved was formed in Sveio, Norway in 1991. The band incorporates both Viking metal (Vikingligr Veldi (1994) and progressive metal (Eld (1997) styling in their albums. Favorite Album: Below the Lights (2003)

#9 Darkthrone - Originally a death metal band formed in Kolbotn, Norway in 1987, Darkthrone embraced black metal in 1991. Darkthorne consists of only two band members; Ted 'Nocturno Culto' Skjellum and Gylve Fenris 'Fenriz' Nagell. The band stays out of the mainstream music scene but is an influential force in Norwegian black metal. Favorite Album: Transylvanian Hunger (1994)

#8 Gorgoroth - Based in Bergen, Norway, Gorgoroth took their name from a location in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings novels. Roger 'Infernus' Tiegs is the only remaining original member who formed the band in 1992 supposedly after making "a pact with the devil". Gorgoroth is probably the most overtly Satanic black metal band often using disturbing imagery in their music and stage performances. The most infamous of which is their 2004 show in Kraków, Poland which consisted of illegal religious offense (Polish law), nudity and cruelty to animals! Gorgoroth also refuses to publish their lyrics tablature and suppresses shows of fan-written covers. Favorite Album: Antichrist (1995)

#7 Behemoth - Formed in 1991 in Gdańsk, Poland; Behemoth was considered more of a traditional black metal band until the 1990's when they evolved using more occult and Thelemic overtones and changing their style into an even more obscure sub-genre called Blackened Death Metal. Recently lead vocalist Adam 'Nergal' Darski was diagnosed with leukemia. Favorite Album: Demigod (2005)

#6 Mayhem - Formed in 1984 in Oslo, Norway; Mayhem is considered to be one of the most infamous, notorious and controversial of all the Norwegian Black Metal bands. Along with their violent stage performances the band's history is latent with death, murder and destruction including the suicide of early vocalist Per 'Dead' Yngve Ohlin in 1991 and the murder of guitarist Øystein 'Euronymous' Aarseth by former band member Varg Vikernes (Burzum), in 1993. Of all their numerous band lineup changes, bassist Jørn 'Necrobutcher' Stubberud is the only remaining founding member. Favorite Album: De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (1994)

#5 Celtic Frost - From Zürich, Switzerland; Celtic Frost is one of the earliest European metal bands whos style changes range from black metal, death metal, thrash and goth metal. The band was active until they disbanded in 1993 but later reformed in 2001 until 2008 when the band officially "laid to rest" in 2008. Favorite Album: Morbid Tales (1984)

#4 Immortal -  Founded in Bergen, Norway in 1990 by current frontman/guitarist Abbath Doom Occulta, Immortal's distinctive face paint design has made them instantly recognizable in the Black Metal scene. Their original rhythm guitarist Jörn Tonsberg (Hades Almighty), was convicted of church burnings alongside Varg Vikernes (Burzum) in 1993. The band split in 2003 but soon reunited in 2005. Favorite Album: Battles In the North (1995)

#3 Dimmu Borgir - Formed in 1993 in Oslo, Norway; Dimmu Borgir is named after an Icelandic volcanic formation (Dimmuborgir). Although the band has had numerous lineup changes, Shagrath (vocals) and Silenoz (guitar) are the only remaining founding members. Known for their fast and heavy but symphonic style the band sites classical composers such as Antonín Dvořák and Richard Wagner as some of their major influences alongside heavy metal. Favorite Album: Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia (2001)

Nergal (Behemoth), Shagrath (Dimmu Borgir), Danny Filth (Cradle of Filth)
#2 Mercyful Fate/King Diamond -  Formed in 1981 in Copenhagen, Denmark but after only two albums the band split up in 1985 as frontman Kim 'King Diamond' Peterson started a solo project, but then reunited with the band in 1992 until 2000 when the band went on hiatus as King again pursued his solo career. They remain an influential part of Black Metal history and has been cited by such bands as Metallica for their influence. Favorite Album: In the Shadows (1994)

#1 Venom -  Formed in 1979 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England in 1979, Venom was part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal during the late 1970's and early 80's and is credited as the originators of black metal with albums such as Welcome To Hell (1981) and Black Metal (1982). Favorite Album: Black Metal (1982)