12 Things to be Excited About in 2012

By Matt Peters

This year is scheduled to be one of the biggest of note in the world of comics, video games, and all-around geekiness. We here at Pads & Panels would like to give you twelve reasons that 2012 will be awesome. Let’s hope our Mayan overlords don’t return from outer space until we get to experience most of it. Take a look below for some of the highlights:




Title: True Grit

Format: Two-disc Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Written and Directed by: Joel and Ethan Coen

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper, Hailee Steinfeld

Studio: Paramount

Film Rating: ★★★☆☆

Blu-ray Rating: ★★★★☆

Review by: Bill Jones

The Film

True Grit is a solid film, but one I feel did not to be made for a number of reasons. The original was one of the most acclaimed John Wayne films around, and it’s a story that seemingly doesn’t need or warrant the Coen Brothers’ unique brand of humor. And ultimately, while I like the movie, I don’t love it.

Jeff Bridges is an acting force in the movie. Matt Damon does some interesting things with his character. And Hailee Steinfeld is absolutely fantastic as Mattie Ross. But it doesn’t all seem to add up in my book. It just amounts to a lot of entertaining parts that don’t really combine to form a fantastic film. (more…)


Title: Captain America: The First Avenger

Directed by: Joe Johnston

Written by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely

Starring: Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Dominic Cooper, Stanley Tucci, Samuel L. Jackson

Studio: Marvel, Paramount

Rating: ★★★½☆

Review by: Bill Jones

Captain America: The First Avenger marks the final superhero movie to hit theaters before next year’s Marvel mega-film-event The Avengers. And like most superhero flicks as of late, it starts with the beginning, telling the origin of a scrawny man named Steve Rogers who through the wonders of science becomes Captain America, a beacon for patriotism during the war with the Nazis. But for all of its stylistic successes, its plot could use some work, and it is hard to shake the feeling that it’s in part an incredibly long trailer for another movie. (more…)


Title: Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Directed By: Michael Bay

Written by: Ehren Kruger

Starring: Shia LeBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Peter Cullen, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, Tyrese Gibson, Patrick Dempsey, Francis McDormand, John Malkovich, Kevin Dunn, Ken Jeong

Studio: Paramount, Hasbro

Rating: ★★★½☆

Review by: Matt Peters

There’s no doubt that this installment of Transformers has a lot of making up to do for Revenge of the Fallen. After a strong first outing by Michael Bay, fans were left disappointed with his 2009 follow up. After the horrible characters, terrible acting and lack of a real story, is it possible that this third film in the franchise can be the best so far? (more…)


Title: Super 8

Directed by: J.J. Abrams

Written by: J.J. Abrams

Starring: Joel Courtney, Ryan Lee, Zach Mills, Riley Griffiths, Gabriel Basso, Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning

Studio: Paramount Pictures

Rating: ★★★★☆

Review by: Bill Jones

When Steven Spielberg was in his absolute prime of blockbuster filmmaking, he took children in films like E.T. and Jurassic Park and put them in situations way over their heads, fantastic situations that played on our extraordinary imaginations as children, turning them into realities more bombastic than seemingly anyone else could have ever created.

Others followed suit with the likes of Goonies and Gremlins, creating the classics of a certain generation, movies that with seeming ease tapped into the very core of the childhood experience and turned it into something beyond our wildest dreams. Super 8 (produced by Spielberg), is for all intents and purposes J.J. Abrams’ (Lost, Star Trek) take on a Spielberg classic, and while it may not quite hit the mark, it’s damn entertaining in its attempt. (more…)


Title: Thor

Directed By: Kenneth Branagh

Written by: Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Don Payne

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins

Studio: Marvel, Paramount

Rating: ★★★★☆

Written By: Thomas Braaksma

Marvel’s Thor has never quite seen the popularity or had such a creative force behind him since the Golden Age of comics with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby at the helm. Though it is safe to say after this year’s theatrical release of Thor, the Norse god might work his way into the hearts of a large number of new and rejuvenated fans. Thor starts off a summer blockbuster season with a bang, and leaves a pretty hard act to follow. (more…)


Title: Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Complete Book 1 Collector’s Edition

Format: 7-Disc DVD

Producer: Nickelodeon, Paramount Home Entertainment

Season Rating: ★★★★☆

DVD Set Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Review by: Chris Park

Tying into M. Night Shyamalan’s film adaptation, Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Complete Book 1 Collector’s Edition is a repackaging of the first boxed set of the series, “Water,” with a couple of new additions. Inside this set is a preview of “The Art of the Animated Series” book that is being released through Dark Horse Comics, as well as a new behind-the-scenes documentary of the show’s three seasons. It’s interesting, because the extra bonus disc isn’t like anything else found in the boxed set, and actually feels much more professional than any of the other extras. (more…)


Title: Iron Man 2

Directed by: Jon Favreau

Written by: Justin Theroux

Produced by: Paramount, Marvel

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Review by: Bill Jones

The 2008 comic-to-movie Iron Man was a bit of a surprise hit. Not necessarily an out-of-left field kind of surprise, but Iron Man up until that point didn’t have the prominence of the likes of Spider-Man and the X-Men. In fact, other producers deemed Fantastic Four, The Hulk and The Punisher more worthy titles to adapt first. And despite being in the apt hands of Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, the script throughout the entire movie felt like something that was teetering, and could just as easily have fallen from the greatness it achieved to the kind of movie one might watch hung-over on a Saturday morning during a marathon of action flicks on TNT, alongside wonders by Steven Seagal and Chuck Norris.

But Iron Man instead found wide critical acclaim, thanks in part to the fan service-guided direction of Jon Favreau. And of course, even more of the success is arguably owed to Robert Downey Jr., who played the characters of Tony Stark and Iron Man to perfection, turning what could have come across as simply arrogant and smug dialogue into something charming in the way of a playboy James Bond. The film still suffered from the lack of a true villain, and it wasn’t high art. It didn’t quite touch the likes of Spider-Man, X2 and The Dark Knight, but it was a hell of a lot of fun. It’s hard to say the same about Iron Man 2. (more…)


Title: Watchmen

Edition: Director’s Cut Blu-ray

MPAA Rating: R

Director: Zack Snyder

Writers: David Hayter, Alex Tse

Producers: Warner Bros. Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Legendary Pictures, Lawrence Gordon Productions, DC Comics

Film Rating: ★★★½☆

Blu-ray Features Rating: ★★★★☆

Review by: Bill Jones

The Film

Zack Snyder took on an incredibly perilous balancing act between mainstream Hollywood filmmaking and nerd culture when he took the director’s chair for the most beloved comic of all time, Watchmen. Interestingly enough, while most films err on the side of departing too drastically from the source material, Snyder follows the text of Alan Moore and visuals of Dave Gibbons to a fault, in a project that leans more to the side of direct adaptation than original artistic vision. (more…)


Title: Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter

Edition: DVD

MPAA Rating: R (Tales of the Black Freighter), PG (Under the Hood)

Director: Daniel DelPurgatorio

Writers: Alex Tse, Zack Snyder

Producers: Warner Premiere, Paramount Pictures, Legendary Pictures, DC

Review by: Bill Jones

The DVD release of Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter is Watchmen director Zack Snyder’s compromise with hardcore fans of the graphic novel. With the feature-length adaptation of Watchmen already pushing 3 hours, Snyder and company fleshed out Alan Moore’s remaining material, Tales of the Black Freighter and Under the Cover, in a straight-to-video release. (more…)