Sunday, March 29, 2009
Oh, DO go on.
It also made me want to see the Whiteout movie starring Kate Beckinsale. What's the deal with that flick anyway?
One last thing I want to talk about, more so than the contents of the book is the scale of the book itself. I will never understand why companies want to shrink down artists' work to such a small format. It's one thing with manga or Scott Pilgrim when the book was originally conceived in that format, but shrinking Steve Lieber or Frank Miller's art (like in the Sin City volumes that came out around the movie) just boggles my mind. Their art is SICK, show it as big as you can! That's why we have Absolute editions.
Okay, that's my rant. What do you think of shrinking down artwork like that? Or Whiteout? Or Kate Beckinsale? Or The Thing?!
Oh, DO go on.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Anyway, I've caught a few episodes of these new shows here and there and will be offering up my opinions on each as is my blog-given right.
Monday 10:00 (ABC)
Live everyone else, I saw a TON of previews leading up to the premiere of Castle. I wasn't really sold on the "writer teams up with a cop" shenanigans the ads were trying to sell me (it seemed like Bones with reversed genders), but I like Nathan Fillion and wished him success. Well, I found myself without anything to watch on Monday night last week so I checked it out and it wasn't bad. This week's episode was pretty good too, if a bit overcomplicated. Fillion's rad and the lady copy is growing on me. There are two aspects that I really like though. First off, I like his family. His daughter is smart and kind of the anti-Gossip Girl while his mother is a former (?) New York actress who likes to party. Not exactly the most original dichtomy, but it all works well together (you might recognize the mom as Greg's mom on Dharma and Greg). The second thing I like is seeing a writer at work on a TV show. Sure, he's supposed to be a grocery story aisle novelist, but he thinks like a writer and I just like seeing that, being a self proclaimed writer myself.
DOGG AFTER DARK
Tuesday 8:30PM (MTV)
Dogg After Dark is kind of like Hugh Hefner's old show where he'd just walk around a party in a loft and talk to people except this time it's
the Dee Oh Double Gee sporting shades in a huge nightclub and "bumping into" celebrities. I've only seen it once, but he called a lot of dudes cousin and then someone sang at the end. I didn't even realize until I just looked things up for this blog that it's on Tuesdays, a day I don't have anything to watch, so I'll have to give it a look next week.
BETTER OFF TED
Wednesday 8:30PM (ABC)
The Better Off Ted ads did a good job of getting me to want to watch the show, mostly because they heavily featured Portia de Rossi who, aside from being SUPER hot, also gets a near-infinite pass for being on Arrested Development. I tried watching the first episode online, but it got really skippy so I quit and watched the second episode last night. Due to some phone calls, I missed the second half of the episode, but I liked what I saw. The premise is kind of tough to explain (the main character actually does a pretty good job in the opener of the first episode), but I like the fact that it focuses on characters from all over this huge research and development company. I'm not completely sold, but I'll be back next week.
Friday 9:00PM (FOX)
I saw one episode of Dollhouse, the second one, and will not be watching any more. I was pretty bummed by how not-great this show was, but I wasn't surprised. I had heard the production had hit a lot of bumps, plus I'm not an Eliza Dushku fan, so this didn't feel like a home run from the beginning. I also felt like they didn't do a good job of letting us know what this show was about (or even letting me know it was on). At first I thought the dolls were supposed to be some kind of super agents, but it turns out they're kind of prostitutes? I dunno. The problem with a show where the main character is blank is that you really have to like the actor or actress because that's all you've got for lack of character (though I'm sure all that will come back in the memory flashbacks that will probably become important at some point). It also seemed like all the characters were just rehashes of other Joss Whedon characters, like the nerdy tech kid. I know that Whedon has a tendency to start his series' slow and then really kick it into gear (like Buffy and Angel, I haven't seen Firefly yet) and I hear there was a big game changer last week (please spoil it in the comments, I'm curious), but I don't think I'll be coming back to Dollhouse.
Sunday 8:00PM (NBC)
I probably shouldn't even include Kings on this list because I saw about 20 minutes of one episode. But in that 20 minutes I saw a show that I definitely want to catch up on. There's such a deep history to this show about America if we had kings (something I think NBC should have advertised way more clearly). The series seems taylor made for my ilk, by which I mean fans of well thought out alternate realities. There's a ton of history ready to be mined here. Hopefully I can get caught up so I have an idea of what's going on this week (if I remember to watch).
And a few other shows I'm looking forward to:
Premieres April 8, Wednesday 10:00PM (ABC)
THE DUEL 2
Premieres April 8, Wednesday 10:00PM (MTV)
Before realizing both of these shows will not only be on at the same time, but also starting on the same day, I was kind of looking forward to The Unusuals. Again, the concept seems a bit whacky, but I really like the cast: Michael from Lost (Harold Perrineau), Joan of Arcadia (Amber Tamblyn), one of the nerds from Dazed and Confused (aka the crazy roommate from Friends, aka Adam Goldberg) and a guy from 28 Weeks Later (Jeremy Renner). But, alas, my attention will be diverted thanks to the latest Real World/Road Rules Challenge, which starts the week after one of my top 5 favorite shows, The Real World Brooklyn, ends. This one will be dubbed The Duel 2 and promises to have a fight between Real World Paris castmates Adam and CT!!! (If that made sense to you, we can be friends forever.)
So, what shows are you watching? Seriously, please comment, I need to know that SOMEONE's reading.
Oh, DO go on.
Anyway, I'm a big fan of the movie. I worked with a lot of people during my 7-ish years at the bagel shop just like the people in the movie. Plus it had the above mentioned actors along with John Francis Daley who, like everyone else, I loved in Freaks and Geeks and a bunch of other actors I would eventually come to know and love like Chi McBride, Luis Guzman, Vanessa Lengies (yeah, I like Stick It, deal with it) and even Dane Cook who I like much better as a comedian, but whatever.
I actually get the itch to watch the DVD every time we eat at one of those TGIFriday's-type (that's can't be the way to write that), though I usually don't 'cause, you know, I've got a lot of other stuff to watch. Anyway, when I heard that the sequel, Still Waiting... came out I was cautiously interested. I put it at the top of my Netflix queue and got it the other day.
It's not a good movie. The guy who's supposed to be the Ryan Reynolds-type character just isn't as good of an actor and can't play off the lovable jerk character (also, making him kinda racist probably wasn't the best choice). Overall, the characters just aren't as real or interesting as the ones written in the original (even the few recurring characters), which is strange because, as far as I can tell, it's the same guy who wrote the original (Rob McKittrick who also directed that one, but not this one).
I can't say I'm disappointed or surprised because, hey, it's a straight-to-DVD sequel to a movie that didn't do all that well in the first place. I did appreciate the fact that Justin Long popped up in a cameo. Uh, I guess the following counts as a SPOILER, if you care. I like that he came back for this movie, but I'm not sure if I like the scene, where he basically tells the bartender that his life still ended up shitty after quitting at the end of the first movie. He sure gives a hilarious performance though and I was actually thinking "It'd be interesting to write a movie that starts where movies like Waiting and Empire Records end, with the guy leaving his dead end job and seeing how well they actually do with that" and then that essentially happened.
Oh well, I've still got the original, which is still rad, so who cares? Anyone else see it or even want to?
Oh, DO go on.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Anyway, as a testament to Chad's radness, I decided to post a bunch of pictures I had of him, many of which are embarrassing. Now, I've known Chad since our Freshman year of high school. I can't remember the exact circumstances of our meeting, but I do remember him sitting in front of me in home room. Our Sophomore year, we did the musical along with a bunch of our other friends (we were flying monkey's on rollerblades). Later, Chad and I formed a band with our buddy Jimmy and, Chad Yates as singer at first and later Randy.
I'm not sure if the pictures require much more explanation I added tags for them, but then turned them into a goofy slideshow on Photobucket, so who knows? They're in close to chronological order. Enjoy!
Oh, DO go on.
Mad Man's Jon Hamm as Lex Luthor asking President Obama for bailout money to kill Superman. Mostly based on the Superman movies, which I'm not a fan of, but more on that later, it's a great watch. It's from Funny or Die, naturally.
Another video that looks to be originally from Funny or Die that I first saw on /Gamer. This one has Link, Mario and Mega Man from old school NES lip syncing a song called "Put It On a Hook" by a group called The Inhumans. I'm not too crazy about the song, but who doesn't love a rapping Mega Man?
Oh, DO go on.
If you're not familiar with either site, /Film ("slash film") is my number one source for movie news and their podcast is pretty entertaining if you're caught up on your theatrical releases and Topless Robot is the funniest site on the net. Check 'em out!
Oh, DO go on.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
When the new season began I said a few words about the shows I'd been watching. Well, now the season's been on it's merry way for a while now and I figured I'd lay out my top five shows right now. They're in no particular order except #1, but they're rocking my world right now.
5. How I Met Your Mother
4. Big Bang Theory
3. 30 Rock
2. Real World
Unfortunately, HIMYM and BBT weren't new for a while, which has been a huge bummer as we don't really watch anything else on Mondays. I still really enjoy both shows and can't wait to see where the further new episodes take me. After watching the first season of 30 Rock all the way through I gained an all new appreciation for 30 Rock and they haven't been disappointing this year (though it is interesting to see how the dynamics have shifted by now). I don't think I laugh harder at anything more than 30 Rock. The Real World: Brooklyn has been surprising this year. I think the producers thought that, by combining a transgender woman, a gay guy, a Mormon, a girl who used to date girls but now dates guys, an Iraq War veteran, a girl who's kinda engaged, a body builder and a hip hop dancer they'd have LOADS of conflict. Instead, we're treated to the most thought provoking, yet still fun season since Las Vegas (SO MANY pranks!). And finally, Lost. I freaking love this show. I've actually found that Lost gives me something to really look forward to (my new catchphrase of late has been "Life is better with Lost"). I was close to devastated when I walked into work Wednesday morning and Justin told me it wasn't new this week. If you're not watching you should be and if you don't like it, you're crazy.
Oh, DO go on.
Hey Gang, I'll apologize again for my lack of posting, but also encourage you to head on over to UnitedMonkee a new site that will be a great hub for checking out my various online adventures (including links back here, of course). It's a work in progress, but hopefully it'll grow into something cool.
Thanks and enjoy!
Oh, DO go on.
Part two in my argument why Black Panther is an awesome comic.
X-MEN/BLACK PANTHER: WILD KINGDOM
(Black Panther #8-9, X-Men #175-176)
Written by Reginald Hudlin & Peter Milligan, drawn by David Yardin & Salvador Larroca
X-Men/Black Panther: Wild Kingdom isn't exactly the best example of why Black Panther is awesome. As I mentioned last time one of the big reasons I like this book so much is that it feels like it's firmly entrenched in the Marvel U without getting too detailed or confusing. That all gets hindered when you bring in the X-Men. I know a lot of people are all about the X-Men, but I still find them to be the most difficult franchise to get into thanks to the incredibly dense history. It's not even that Milligan's story is all that confusing, I just have a hard time placing this story in the long history of X-Men. You've got Gambit and Rogue on the same team, but what's their deal? Emma's there too, but is this still when Astonishing was going on? None of this really matters to the story, but it is distracting. I do like how both writers handle Storm and Wolverine though, two characters who will be important in their own ways coming up.
The story of this book is that the Red Ghost wants to start a new commie ape society in Africa. There's something about mutant animals, which gets the X-Men interested. BP of course gets involved too because this is his turf. For those of you unfamiliar with the Red Ghost, he's a communist scientist who can turn intangible and has created super powered apes who talk. There's another scientist guy in the story who can absorb mutant powers.
I'll be honest, the larger story here isn't all that interesting unless you're a huge Red Ghost fan (and I know some people out there are). What is cool about this story is seeing Storm and Black Panther together. Like I said before I don't know much about either character aside from what I've read in this book, so I'm not sure if there were any previous hints of their relationship or if this is the first readers saw of it, but I like how they are around each other, especially considering how adversarial they tend to be towards one another. It's cool to see the beginning of their love story (even if it's not the chronological beginning).
Oh, Dragon Man's in the book too which is pretty cool, but, again, the overall story isn't all that interesting. As far as my collection goes, I'm not all too concerned about adding this one to my collection, unless I can get it on Sequential Swap (a great site to get rid of some of your old trades as well as get some cool new ones). But, don't let that deter you from checking out my future installments of Black Panther Is Awesome, as Part 3 will focus on Bad Mutha, the arc that got me interested in this book in the first place.
Oh, DO go on.
I haven't been having a ton of luck lately when it comes to watching movies. Aside from falling asleep about a half hour in exactly no matter how cool the movie, I've been picking some duds (though still a few good ones). I couldn't even get into watching Repo: The Genetic Opera for some reason. I'm not going to pass judgment on that one now because I was really tired, but I wanted to keep our Netflix queue going so I sent it back.
I did not however like an action movie I tried watching last night called Kiltro (2006). I made it about a half hour into that one before I fell asleep. I was hoping for an awesome action movie (as advertised), but instead I got a story about a guy who likes to fight and has a crush on a girl who blah blah blah. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I want my action movies (and my giant monster movies for that matter) to be less talking and more destruction, unless they happen to be actually funny like Police Story 1 and 2. Again, I don't really consider this a review, because I didn't watch the whole movie, just letting you action fans out there know not to waste your time.
I also watched most of a movie called Hickey and Boggs (1972) which has a lot going for it in that The Warriors writer Walter Hill wrote it and Bill Cosby stars as a tough guy private detective along with Robert Culp who also directs. I didn't have any problem with this movie, though it is a bit slow, I just haven't finished it yet because it's kind of long and it expires from Netflix on March 1. It's in the same vein as Dirty Harry and is pretty cool, so I might finish it up today. Oh, and if you were wondering, yes it's kind of weird seeing Bill Cosby as a tough guy, but he also pulls it off really well. It's fun to watch. Again, not a real review, but just some thoughts.
That being said, I do have four ACTUAL reviews:
Man, the 90s were a weird time for horror movies. You're looking at a time after the slasher glut greatly hindered the genre, but before Scream made them cool again. Popcorn is kind of a weird movie. The basic premise is that a college film club decides to hold a movie marathon to raise some money. But this isn't any movie marathon, they're showing movies with a gimmick like smell-o-vision or shock-o-rama. As such, they need an old movie theater to show their flicks in and a crazy old guy to help out (and then completely disappear) in the form of Ray Walston (My Favorite Martian). If you really liked the beginning of Scream 2 where there's all kinds of craziness happening in a movie theater, then this is right up your alley as it seems as though a counterculture guy from back in the day wants his weirdo movie to be seen so much he's willing to kill people for it (that's not exactly the plot, but I don't want to give too much away). There was enough quirky charm to keep me watching even though the movie isn't awesome by any means. So, if that sounds interesting (oh and the fact that someone gets killed via giant fake mosquito), check it out.
THE ROCKER (2008)
I was really surprised with how much I liked this Rainn Wilson flick. I was also surprised with the huge number of cast members I not only recognized, but knew by name (for the most part). Wilson stars as a drummer who got kicked out of what became the biggest band of the 80s right before they blew up. Now, in modern times, Rainn's down on his luck, but ends up joining his nephew's band, which garners its own huge levels of success. Aside from the cast that includes Christina Applegate, Emma Stone, Jeff Garland, Jane Lynch (from 40 Year Old Virgin and a hundred other things), Jason Sudekis, Will Arnett, Fred Armisen, Jane Krakowski, Bradley Cooper, Lonny Ross (30 Rock), Demetri Martin and Aziz Ansari, I was really impressed with how well they pull off some moments that could have come off as cheesy. There's also one part where Rainn offers up the emo lead singer some songwriting advice (paraphrase "let's speed it up and switch it to I'm NOT bitter) and he actually takes it without flinching. Sure it's kind of similar to a scene in That Thing You Do, but in this case the lead singer just decided to go for it instead of being a d-bag. The Rocker is one of those flicks that seems like it either went up against some huge other movie or their producers didn't have the juice to put much/any advertising cash behind it, because there's no reason that this shouldn't have done way better (though I said the same thing after seeing Speed Racer, which I still really enjoyed, so what do I know).
I also watched a couple movies all the way through that I wasn't really into and those were Bangkok Dangerous (2008) and The Crazies (1973). I'll be honest, the only reason I wanted to watch BD is because I've laughed a million times at the Best of The Wicker Man video on YouTube starring BD's Nic Cage. Man that's a funny video. You can get to it here after reading an AWESOME article I wrote about horror movie remakes for ToyFare. Unfortunately, BD was no where near as ridiculous as I was hoping it would be (I mean, COME ON, it's Nic Cage as an assassin!). Instead, it's a pretty run-of-the mill story about an assassin who has all kinds of rules, but is starting to not want to be an assassin anymore. You've seen it a million times and this doesn't really offer up anything new, unlike Grosse Pointe Blank which is completely awesome.
The Crazies (1973) is the first non-zombie George Romero movie I've ever seen. It was okay, but not all that interesting. Instead of focusing on characters and how they react to these crazy situations, it seemed like Romero was more focused on showing a lot of dudes in white hazmat-type suits rounding people up after a virus that makes people go bat-poop nutso, gets released in a small town. There's nothing all that wrong, really, it just didn't grab my attention like my favorite Romero (and horror) flick Dawn of the Dead does.
Oh, DO go on.
It may come as a bit of surprise, but my movie intake has almost trickled to a crawl lately. The movies in this post have been vied over a period of almost months. I've been a lot more tired lately and haven't been staying up as late, but I'm still watching for you, my faithful readers (also because I'm half-addicted to movies, I think). So, here we go:
NICK AND NORA'S INFINITE PLAYLIST (2008)
I didn't LOVE Nick and Nora, but I liked it about as much as I thought I would. I'm a sucker for told-in-one-night movies like Can't Hardly Wait and the like. Plus, this one stars Michael Cera and Kat Dennings who is crush-worthy in my book (don't tell Em). The basic story isn't all that mindblowing, it's your basic "two people who are dating other people meet each other, fall for each other, have a few difficulties, but SPOILER get together in the end" flick, but what's fun for me is in the details. Aside from the solid performances and guest spots by the likes of Andy Samberg, Seth Meyers, Jay Baruchel, I like the New York club setting and the smaller details like Nora's dad SPOILER owning Electric Ladyland studios. I have no idea if the club/band life the movie puts forward is accurate, but I think the idea of following a mystery band around town to be really cool, though familiar (I can't quite put my finger on why/where from). I also had music geeksplosions when they went to Electric Ladyland. And, I gotta say, I was surprised that this movie, which is based on a book that I haven't, but now want to, read not only had a sex scene but also a number of gay characters (oh, and the creepiest stripperish dance scene involving an actual girl that I can remember). I guess teen movies have changed a bit and I think it's pretty cool.
THE HOUSE BUNNY (2008)
I can't exactly say The House Bunny surprised me, because, well, I kind of thought I would like it. You've got Anna Faris starring in a Fred Wolf (SNL, DIRTY WORK!!!) directed movie that mixes Playboy and sororities on a college campus in which the main point of the flick is to turn nerdy sorority girls (including Kat Dennings, Rumor Willis and Emma Stone) into hot chicks. I'd say that's a pretty killer combination. And, as far as I'm concerned, it lived up to my expectations. Oh, plus it had Colin Hanks who I haven't seen in anything but Orange County, but I liked that flick and he's good in this too. Really, if the above description doesn't tickle your fancy, you won't dig this movie. If it does, dive on in and have a good time. I wouldn't rank it in my top five comedies or anything, but it's still worth a watch.
ALIEN RAIDERS (2008)
Alien Raiders is one of those movies that makes its way into the Wizard building and somehow found it's way to my hands, probably because everyone knows I'm the horror guy in the offices. Anyway, I knew nothing about this movie and had absolutely no expectations (in fact, I can't even remember why I watched this instead of something else like, say, Triloquist, which is in my "to be watched" pile). So, I was pleasantly surprised by this mix of Thing and The Mist (basically, "who's the alien in a grocery store"). I was surprised with how in to this movie I got (I even put a comic down to watch it). For a much better review than I could give, check out my favorite blog on the web Horror Movie a Day. Also check out the comment section for what will be a now reduntant comment, plus a comment from the screenwriter!
DISTRICT B-13 (2004)
Compared to the rest of these flicks, B-13 here is an oldie, but it's still a goody. Man, I had a great time watching B-13. It's directed by the guy who just did Taken which I hear is pretty rad and want to check out. Anyway, the story is set in the near future, something about a ghetto in France where undesirables live. The intricacies of the plot escape me at the moment, but there's an undercover cop and a crook working together to both get a bomb back and save one of the guys' sister. The story itself isn't the cool part though, I was a fan of the action scenes, many of which involved my personal favorite YouTube search of free running (or parkour if you're nasty, or French). I caught this on Netflix's amazing instant watch and can't recommend it more to action fans. Seriously, go check it out NOW.
Okay, hope you enjoyed these brief movie reviews. Look for more trade and movie reviews soon!
Oh, DO go on.
I've gained a bit of a reputation around the hallowed halls of Wizard as the dude who LOVES Reggie Hudlin's Black Panther comic. I came into it a bit late in the game (somewhere around the early teens I think), went back, got caught up and have been reading ever since. And, while I think the book got a bit weak in the over-long Fantastic Four issues (I might get to those eventually), I still think it's a pretty great series overall both because it made me care about a character I didn't really have any feelings toward one way or another (I never read the previous series') and because it felt like Reggie was really utilizing the vast resources of the Marvel Universe without getting too bogged down in said history.
So, in this semi-recurring feature called Black Panther Is Awesome, I'll be taking a trade by trade look at why this book rocks my world. So here we go with the first trade, Who Is The Black Panther?
BLACK PANTHER: WHO IS THE BLACK PANTHER?
Written by Reginald Hudlin & drawn by John Romita Jr.
Collecting Black Panther 1-6
Okay, right off the bat, I've got to say that this is one of the few cases in which I've really liked John Romita Jr.'s art. Usually it's a little too boxy for my tastes, but for some reason it really works on this book.
Anyway, the crazy thing about the first issue is that it doesn't even feature T'Challa, the current black panther, but instead focuses on three different Black Panthers from times past repelling foreign invasions, including a pretty rad fight between T'Challa's pops and Captain America back in World War II that looks even more vintage thanks to Romita's pencils (not sure how that works, but it does!). We're made aware of these past battles thanks to a small group of American politicians and military dudes trying to figure out if Wakanda poses a threat. We're also treated to a few small scenes of bad guys talking to each other, one of which turns out to be the Klaw, who, even I know, is the guy that killed T'Challa's dad back in the day. I do have one complaint about these flashback scenes, though. The dialogue seems way to modern at times. It's not a huge deal, but it is the kind of thing that could pull someone out of the story.
All of this sets up a few interesting scenarios. Who's the bad guy recruiting Klaw? What will the U.S. government try and pull? And most of all, who is the current Black Panther? We've seen these past ones, so what's T'Challa like? We'll get the answers plus more questions as things move on.
Also of interest, the footage we've seen of the Black Panther cartoon, which will be on BET, looks like they just animated this first issue like those old motion comic cartoons from the 70s. As you can probably guess, I'm pretty excited about that series whenever it comes out.
You know what's crazy about the second issue? Still no T'Challa as Black Panther. We get to see T'Challa challenge his uncle for the title of Black Panther and win which is pretty rad. Along with the scenes we also get some background about Wakanda where we find out that the Panther is the god of the people and also rules them as a king. We also get treated to some more pretty cool and sometimes brutal fight scenes between T'Challa's uncle and the challengers.
There's also an interesting set-up in the character of Shuri, T'Challa's sister who also wanted to try out to become the Black Panther, but was stopped by a falling opponent of her uncle's just as T'Challa jumped into the fray. There's some more U.S. government stuff that gets a bit old as the series moves on, but it's still pretty interesting here. Plus, Klaw recruits a bad guy/girl named Cannibal who seems to take over bodes based on physical contact. The seeds are planted.
The third issue is kind of an origin issue with some more team building on the bad guy's side. It seems as though Rhino and Batroq the Leaper (minus the silly costume, but still sporting the accent) have joined Klaw's cadre of evil somewhere in Africa. It turns out that Klaw is related to one of the dudes who we saw trying to invade Wakanda and getting killed. Klaw became an assassin hired to kill T'Challa's dad, killed him and T'Challa's brother only to get shot by a young T'Challa. Klaw went back to Belgium where they turned him into a cyborg killing machine. We also get a glimpse of what fueled T'Challa to become the badass dude we will eventually see in the book and got a glimpse of when facing off against his uncle.
The issue is capped with a few more additions to the villain crew in the form of the Vatican's Black Knight, who even sports an ebony blade and a ruler of a neighbor of Wakanda who is on Klaw's side. I'm not exactly sure how this fits into the actual Black Knight's continuity, but they did a call out to it in the most recent issue of Captain Britain (a really great book, highly recommended to all).
Finally, in issue four we get to see T'Challa in his Black Panther gear as the bad guys finally begin the assault. I don't want to get in too many of the details because they're pretty cool, but we get a great look at how the population of Wakanda looks up to T'Challa and how he, in turn, respects them. We also get treated to an example of the Rhino's toughness and an aerial dog fight with the Black Knight, plus the reveal that Radioactive Man is also on Klaw's Crew.
Issues five and six really display the throw down between BP and his people and Klaw's Crew (I like that name, they should get uniforms made up). The U.S. government even gets involved by deploying a group of cyborg soldiers that seem to have an awful lot in common with Deathlok, though the connection isn't made on the page. Oh, the Panther also has a freaking flight cycle. Awesome!
In the end, Panther faces off against Klaw, while his sister takes on Radioactive Man and Cannibal takes over his cousin in America (he's a diplomat of some kind). So, even though the good guys (and girls) prevail in their own way, there's still some lingering trouble.
So, what do I like about this book (aside from what I already mentioned)? Well, I'm pretty fascinated by Wakanda as a setting and Hudlin sets things up really well. You get to see both its technologically advanced side but also it's older, warrior and honor based culture. It's a really cool setting that really serves T'Challa later on and shows how he truly is a product of his environment.
I also really like this collection of somewhat classic Marvel villains. You've got Rhino, Klaw, Batroq the Leaper and Radiative Man all teaming up in a way that doesn't seem forced at all. Plus, I didn't even realize it until just now how little Black Panther is in the series and I was still really really into it. It's pretty cool.
Okay, this was a really long post, but I had to get in why I think BP is so awesome. Look for more installments later as I've read the first four Black Panther trades, but haven't read the X-Men/Black Panther trade in a while (I might just skip that one to save some time).
Oh, DO go on.
I must admit, I have not seen Animal House (1978) as many times as I should have. My dad was always a big fan, but I'm guessing he didn't want me to watch it considering the questionable moral content. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have wanted me to read one of the Animal House writers Chris Miller's book The Real Animal House (2006).
The story is that Miller wrote a bunch of stories about his fraternity experiences at Dartmouth for National Lampoon (yes, it used to be a magazine). At some point the NL folks wanted to make a movie so Chris, Harold Ramis and Douglas Kenney pooled every story they ever experienced or heard about fraternities and created Animal House, one of the greatest comedies of all time.
Well, Miller's The Real Animal House collects all of his memories and stories. Part autobiography, part oral history, Miller switches from first to third person as he gets to college and becomes Pinto. The shift is a bit distracting, but once you really get into the tales of Adelphian lore, you don't really notice it anymore.
And let me tell you, there are some gross stories in here. If you thought the movie had some risque moments, you might not want to check the book out, but if that kind of stuff doesn't bother you, I really recommend this book. Aside from being highly entertaining and funny, it's really interesting to be transferred to the wild world of fraternity life in the early 60s as rock and roll was really taking root and students were trying everything they could to make the cold New Hampshire winters pass in the at-the-time all male world of Dartmoth. I'm not saying this was necessarily how all college life was in the 60s, but it's a cool look. Plus, it reminded be a little of my fraternity days back at Ohio Wesleyan. We were never as crazy as either the book or movie fraternities, but there are definitely some characters and moments that echoed my experiences, though, luckily I never got stuck with a flattering nickname (we pretty much called everyone by their last name all the time, with a few exceptions).
Anyway, if you haven't seen Animal House you really should. It's the rare movie that doesn't really have one central character and yet you never really seem to notice. All the actors deliver stellar performances and there's something new to laugh at every time you check it out. I also recommend viewing the special features, one of which catches up with the characters, the other interviews many of the actors a few years ago about their experience with Animal House, even Kevin Bacon.
I picked the book up at my local Barnes and Noble in hardcover for around 6 or 7 bucks and I highly recommend it if you can find it for that price, otherwise the hardcover is $24.99. I tend not to buy new, full price hardcovers because I'm pretty cheap, but the low price, the subject matter and the super cool cover (Google it, uploading pics is a pain) all encouraged me buying it and I recommend you do too.
Oh, DO go on.
Today we've got a pair of Marvel trade reviews for your reading pleasure:
THOR VOL. 1 (Marvel)
Written J. Michael Straczynski & drawn by Oliver Coipel
On paper, I didn't think I'd like JMS's Thor. I've never been a big fan of the character and JMS disappointed me with Rising Stars after which I kind of stopped reading his stuff (also because I'm not a big FF or Spidey fan, though his Midnight Nation is rad). Also, I remember reading in Wizard a bunch of years back (I think right before I got my job) that Mark Millar and Steve McNiven were going to work on a Thor book where all these different Asgardian weapons started falling to Earth and new people were picking them up and becoming Don Blake/Thor-like pairings. That sounded pretty rad, but it never happened. Then that Thor clone thing happened in Civil War, so I was pretty much done with the idea of Thor.
Even with all that, I still started reading Thor when it came out and I was shocked to realize that I really liked it. I can't even really describe why I like it so much. I think it's the basic simplicity of a character that's been around for decades. Even though Thor's trying to find his fellow Asgardians in human form, it doesn't feel too bogged down in continuity. I also really like how he just decided to set up shop in Oklahoma as a floating castle-city. It's a really cool visual which is made all the cooler by Coipel's slick art. I can't remember if I've read any books he's drawn before, but I'd definitely make a point from here on out.
Unfortunately, I missed one issue in the first six and got off the story, which is a bummer because now I'll either have to find all the issues in the Wizard library (a veritable wasteland) or just read the trades as they come out which will take a while. Oh well, I'm still down with the book and from what I hear it's still doing well, so hopefully it'll be around for a while.
X-MEN: THE DARK PHOENIX SAGA (Marvel)
Written by Chris Claremont, co-plotted and drawn by John Byrne
I've talked a lot of X-Men trash over the years. Partly it's because I'm a dyed in the wool DC fan. Part of it is that I'm not a big Chris Claremont fan because of his run on Gen 13 (I was a HUGE fan of that book back in the day). And partly because I'm kind of sick of people saying how great it is.
But, all that being said, I figured I should at least give it a shot and see how it is so I can make an educated argument as to why I don't like the book (if in fact I don't). Well, I was surprised that I didn't hate the book. I don't think it's anywhere near the level of Dark Knight or Watchmen, books that I've heard it compared to before, but it's pretty good for a comic from 1979-1980.
Part of the problem is that I knew exactly what was going to happen and there were very few if any surprises. I guess I can thank my beloved X-Men animated series and reading various reviews and write-ups in Wizard for that. Anyway, sometimes you know how something's going to end, but the ride is still fun. Unfortunately, I kept getting let down by moments that I've heard were supposed to be awesome. The one that really sticks out in my mind is the couple of issues in which Wolverine gets knocked through the floor of the Hellfire Club and then comes back and kicks ass to save his teammates. Sure there are a couple of cool moments, but most of the issue is spent watching a Revolutionary War era Cyclops fighting in mind space or something. The final fight with the Imperial Guard is kind of boring as well. Plus John Byrne's very pretty art is often covered with dialogue that explains exactly what you're seeing the characters do on the page.
Like I said the story's not bad, especially if you haven't had nearly every beat of the story ruined for you and also if you have a predilection for Silver Age-type stories, but it doesn't really make me want to read the rest of this era of X-Men, though X-fanatic and Wizard World guru Brett White suggested I read From the Ashes which is on my list. We shall see I guess.
Oh, DO go on.
So, as I'm sure you're aware, this past weekend was the enormous New York Comic Con. I've actually gone every year and the show gets better and better, though, that's pretty easy considering how poorly laid out it was the first year.
I mostly walked around and talked to my various ToyFare contacts, but I also got a chance to flip through some boxes of cheap trades ($5, 50% off and best of all, buy 1 get 2 free!!!). So, keep an eye out for a bunch of trade reviews in the coming days and weeks (including a four trade Black Panther retrospective).
Aside from that, I was too much of a wuss to talk to any artists and get sketches in my Green Lantern themed sketchbook (as of now, it's got one sketch, though it is a pretty cool Koi Pham Guy Gardner). So, if any artists are reading this and want to contribute, let me know :)
Last but not least Justin Aclin, the big man at ToyFare, lead a slew of us in a Twisted ToyFare Theatre panel that turned out to be a lot of fun. So, thanks to anyone who came out for that and anyone who wished me a happy birthday on Friday (my 26th).
And, seriously, if you're an artist and want to draw some rad Green Lanterns, drop me a line!
Oh, DO go on.
You know how sometimes your friend will tell you about a movie that sounds pretty awesome and then, in fact, turns out to BE pretty awesome? Well, I was hoping that would happen after Rickey gave me the following description of Wes Craven's Deadly Friend (1986) (paraphrased, of course): "So, there's this kid who built a robot and he likes this girl. A neighbor shoots the robot and the girl's abusive dad accidentally kills her, so the kid combines them and the robo girl starts killing people." He then sends me a clip of a girl throwing a basketball at an old woman and her head EXPLODES (it's on YouTube, just search for Deadly Friend) and I was sold.
Unfortunately, Deadly Friend is a freaking boring movie. If the above premise sounds awesome and you love the YouTube clip, don't bother with the movie. Just watch the clip over and over and you'll get more enjoyment out of this flick because, even though the clip promises Machine Girl levels of gore, that one scene is about all you get. There's also a really weird scene at the very end (I guess this is a SPOILER, but seriously, don't bother seeing this movie) where the kid is standing over the dead girl and her skin starts tearing away to reveal a sleeker version of the robot underneath her skin. It's actually a pretty cool looking scene, but it doesn't make any sense seeing as how he merely put some kind of chip into her chest cavity to bring her back from the dead.
To be completely honest, I don't remember a lot of the other details about the movie because it was boring, I watched it a few weeks ago and I was probably either dozing off or reading a trade towards the end, but I do remember that the robot looked like a weird combination of Wall-E and Johnny 5 from Short Circuit (a movie I freaking LOVED as a kid). Oh, also, Christy Swanson plays the girl/robot, but even that wasn't interesting enough to keep me, well, interested.
Speaking of Johnny 5, his human companion, Steph-a-nie (a.k.a. Ally Sheedy) stars in the other robot movie I watched in the past few weeks, Man's Best Friend (1993). I can't say that Man's Best Friend is a movie I've been wanting to see for years or anything, though I do remember seeing the box in my local video store. In fact, the only reason I watched it is because it was going to disappear from my Netflix Watch Instantly thing. Plus it boasted Lance Henriksen in a starring role, so I figured, what the heck?
It's not a great movie, but I'd probably watch it again before I'd watch Deadly Friend. The basic idea is that Sheedy's a news lady who's trying to expose animal testing at some kind of facility only to accidentally free a dog named Max that turns out to be an experiment in genetics and robotics. You see, Henriksen and his scientist buddies combined the DNA of animals like monkeys, owls and squirrels (or something) into a dog, but he's also part robot for some reason (again, I got bored and missed some presumably important plot points).
Anyway, the dog's dangerous and has some pretty cool kills, especially if you keep telling yourself it's not a real dog climbing a tree and devouring a clearly real cat (the dog is the obvious fake in this case). The kills are pretty cool, but the whole time I was kind of dumbfounded this this movie got made. I'm not really familiar with either Henriksen or Sheedy's careers at this point, so this could either have been a movie with pretty big names or a desperate grab for cash from two not-so-hot-anymore stars, but man, what a weird movie.
So, if you're feeling like watching a robot movie, watch Wall-E or Short Circuit. If you're looking for a robot movie about killing and you've seen the Terminator movies a million times, I guess you could check out Man's Best Friend. And, if you're a Craven completist, I still recommend skipping Deadly Friend.
Oh, DO go on.
In my ever-expanding quest to read more Iron Man comics I decided to give a few recent trades a shot, which brought be to Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Secret Invasion: War Machine. I wanted to read all of the post-Civil War Iron Man books, but couldn't find them in the library, so this will do.
IRON MAN: DIRECTOR OF S.H.I.E.L.D.
Written by Daniel and Charles Knauf, drawn by Roberto de la Torre
As some of you may know, I was involved in the weekly Civil War Room review column on wizarduniverse.com lead by former Wizard staffer Rickey Purdin. I enlisted thinking it would be a seven week commitment (that's how long it was supposed to take to come out right?). Well, it turned into an over year long commitment in which I read 99% of the Civil War related comics (thank you vacation). Anyway, because of all this, I feel pretty confident in saying that Iron Man was not a well handled character at the time, at least in my opinion.
So, with that in mind, I was pretty apt to skip Iron Man's post-Civil War comic which saw him in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D. an organization most well known for being lead by one of the coolest characters in the known universe, Nick Fury. But, alas, that didn't keep me away forever.
This trade is a pretty interesting one. The writers Knauf spin an intriguing yarn with plenty of espionage and superheroics all the same. I really like how Tony has built Iron Man-like armor for his S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. That's a cool touch that really makes sense. Also, I like how Dum Dum Dugan doesn't like Tony's way of running S.H.I.E.L.D. (like a business instead of a military organization). There's some pretty cool moments between the two of them as their relationship grows over the issues.
The book, which collects Iron Man #15-18, also features the return of the handless Mandarin who gets the alien power rings surgically inserted into his spine. I really wish I had the next few volumes to read between this and Secret Invasion to see how that played out. Some day I guess...
All in all, good stuff. Maybe not an easy entry point for new readers, but it's a good read for the initiated and also reprints two older stories, one starring Nick Fury, the other Iron Man. There's also reprints of some Marvel Spotlight: Civil War stuff and Marvel Handbook stuff, so that's a good deal.
SECRET INVASION: WAR MACHINE
Written by Chris Gage and drawn by Sean Chen
This book collects the repurposed Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. issues (#33-35) which were dubbed War Machine: Weapon of S.H.I.E.L.D. while Iron Man was stuck in the Savage Land for six months.
I actually really dug this story. It's one of the cooler Secret Invasion tie-ins, far as I'm concerned. What you get is Jim Rhodes, a.k.a. War Machine, getting a distress call from Tony telling him that StarkTech had been compromised by the Skrulls, but luckily Rhodey (who's apparently a cyborg who looks an awful lot like Cyborg now) doesn't have StarkTech inside him, so he's cool. Tony also leads him to a satellite that's shielded from everyone that also transforms into a giant robot that Rhodey can control.
The story also has a pretty good tussle with the Winter Guard, some cool Super Skrulls that actually get identified (why couldn't they tell us who made up ALL the Skrulls?!) and a character by the name of Suzi Endo who is apparently known, but not by me. I wish this book would have come with some kind of intro or a Handbook entry on some of the characters to let me know what's up with them, but I got the gist of it. I haven't read the new War Machine book, but this definitely makes me want to, especially if it has a satellite that transforms into a giant robot!!!
Oh, DO go on.
Time for some merry musings about a myriad of Marvel's most moving...comics. Wow, that's harder than it looks. Stan Lee should write an alliterative dictionary. Anyway, I've been catching up on some recent Marvel stuff that I missed out on the first time around, so here goes:
GHOST RIDER: HELL BEND & HEAVEN BOUND (Marvel)
Written by Jason Aaron and drawn by Roland Boschi & Tan Eng Huat
I've been hearing about how awesome Jason Aaron's Ghost Rider run has been, that it kind of takes a grindhouse approach to a character whose book wasn't exactly setting the world, ahem, aflame. Maybe it's because it's been hyped up so much, but I didn't find this volume, which collects Ghost Rider #20-25, all that awesome. Sure it was cool seeing Ghost Rider get mixed up with some ghosts on a highway and crazy nurses, but for me it never went beyond being just cool. I also couldn't help but feel like these were all Hellblazer stories bounced to another universe and used on Ghost Rider. That's probably not a fair comparison, but I do like the general approach to the character. Hey, I wouldn't be reading the book otherwise.
Also, I'm generally not a fan of the art, but I think it works in a book like this. It's kind of like how I wouldn't normally like some of the artists who do BPRD or Hellboy minis, but in the context of that kind of book the art really works well. It's pretty much the same thing here. All this being said, I will give the next volume a read, just to see how it goes, hopefully I'll be surprised.
THE INCREDIBLE HERCULES: AGAINST THE WORLD (Marvel)
Written by Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente and drawn by Koi Pham and others
Man, this is a good book. I loved Planet Hulk as it was happening but wasn't all that thrilled with World War Hulk (I'm not a fan of Romita Jr.'s). After all that I was kind of mad that Jeph Loeb was writing a Hulk book while Greg Pak, the guy who made Hulk awesome again got relegated to a Hercules book. I later found out that this was how Pak wanted to do things and heard good things about Herc, so I'm giving it a shot and unlike Ghost Rider, I'm 100% sold on Incredible Herc.
The book is great. Hercules is a pretty fascinating character, not just the wine swilling rogue we've seen in issues of Avengers past, but a really complicated dude who's lived an amazingly long life. The writers really dig deep, but don't pile things on too heavily and bury the fun. And there's plenty of fun.
Herc's chum in all this is Amadeus Cho, the seventh smartest person (first smartest kid) on Earth (I'd like to see the list in ranked order), a character I've grown to like in his few appearances leading up to and including WWH. Cho's obsessed with shutting S.H.I.E.L.D. down because of how they treated Hulk, but Herc doesn't want to destroy the good with the bad. Meanwhile, Ares is attacking Herc a lot, trying to put his arrogant, famous brother down.
My one complaint about Incredible Herc is that I'm not a big fan of Ares' characterization. I really really liked Michael Avon Oeming's Ares miniseries from a few years ago, but I feel like the character he set up there hasn't really been used as much beyond "big huge bad ass" in later appearances. Here he's a crazy, jealous dude who just wants to put Herc down. It's kind of strange and maybe that's how his character has been developed in books I haven't read, but it just feels a little off to me and took me a bit out of the story.
I can't wait to check out the next trade, which, I think, will be Secret Invasion stuff. I read one issue when it came out and really liked it, but it was part 2 or 3 and I missed the rest.
Oh, DO go on.
Holy crap, Machine Girl is an awesome movie. If you like action, big guns, Asian school girls, Dead Alive levels of blood, crazy murders, track suit wearing ninjas and a quartet of vengeful relatives with a football (American, I'll say soccer when I mean soccer) motif and gun gauntlets, then this is the movie for you.
I first heard about this flick last year when one of my buddies sent it around in an E-mail. I was pretty blown away by the trailer, which turned out to be the first few minutes of the movie, and was super excited when I came across it on Netflix and bumped it to the top of my list.
Here's the basic story. The main girl, Machine Girl (or MG from here on out) has this brother who's being bullied by the son of a Yakuza. Little bro gets killed in a tussle with the bullies which sends his sister on a murderous rampage that leads her to the Yakuza who cuts her arm off. This is after her arm gets tempura fried by the mom of one of the other kids. Hilarious. So, after her arm gets sliced, she goes to this mechanic who builds her an arm that's a freaking Gatling gun. From there, the aforementioned ninjas in red track suits and catcher protective gear show up to get massacred. It's their deaths that lead to their family members getting recruited by the bad guys and turned into football-themed assassins.
So, as you can see the movie is awesome. The action is great, the kills and gore are worthy of the best slasher movies and it's freaking funny. It knows how crazy it is and revels in it, just like I did. THIS is what I wanted Smokin' Aces to be. Thank God, someone's still making awesome bloody action movies. Thanks Japan!
Oh, DO go on.
I really, REALLY wanted to like Smokin' Aces when it came out in 2006. A bunch of us from Wizard were so psyched that we went to see it in the theater and man was I disappointed. I wanted so much for it to be this awesome battle of crazy hired killers killing each other at breakneck speeds. But, that's not exactly what we got.
So, like I said I was disappointed. But sometimes I don't like something because it doesn't match up to my expectations, not necessarily because it's a bad piece of work. For instance I hated Superman Returns when I first watched it. That sure as heck isn't the Superman I've been reading about since I was a kid (the same reason I don't like the original Superman movies either, but that's a discussion for another time). But, upon further viewings I like the movie more. I'm not in love with it (Superman has a KID!) and it's not even close to my top 20 (maybe even 50) comic based movies. I don't really agree with the director or writers choices, but it's a well put together movie.
I can't say that's the same case with Aces, though. The movie suffers from all kinds of pacing issues and an overwhelming amount of information, characters and business. Plus, you've got the bid end twist (which is incredibly telegraphed, too much I'd say) and then the VERY end is just ridiculous (why the heck would they let him in the room?). The alternate "Cowboy Ending" makes a LOT more sense, though it wouldn't have made up for the whole thing. I feel like there's a really good story in there somewhere, but frankly, it's buried under a mountain of other unnecessary bits of business. The last 20-30 minutes have so many head-slapping and scratching moments that it really kills the movie.
There are some fun moments and bits that have more to do with casting and coincidence than the story. The redneck brothers have a pretty cool shoot-out with blades, guns, a rocket launcher (?) and a chainsaw that's too short, but still great. Basically, it's what you expect from the whole movie, but it only lasts a few minutes and resolves itself oddly. Aside from that and one other shoot-out, though, the movie lacks action. It doesn't lack an awesome cast though. Here's a brief list: Ryan Reynolds, Ray Liotta, Jeremy Piven, Ben Affleck, Peter Berg, Common, Andy Garcia, Nestor Carbonell, Jason "Everything's Better with Bateman" Bateman and even a small roll for Matthew Fox.
Oh, and those redneck brothers I mentioned? They're made up of Keamy from Lost, Kirk from the new Trek movie and another guy. Yup that makes THREE Lost cast members in the flick and I still didn't like it. What are the odds?!
All this being said, I would definitely check out the rumored sequel called Smokin' Aces: Blowback, though I probably won't shell out $10 again to see it in the theater. For my money, I'd rather check out a Shoot Em Up sequel, because that movie was exactly what I wanted it to be.
Oh, DO go on.
Hey gang, still having trouble getting more than one post up per week, but hopefully they're worth your while when they do pop up. I've been reading a lot of trades lately, even started fully going through the Wizard comic library again, so hopefully I'll get more than the aforementioned one post per week. So, let's jump in shall we?
THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD VOL. 1: THE LORDS OF LUCK (DC)
Written by Mark Waid, drawn by George Perez
When this book first came out I was pretty excited, but it wasn't the kind of book I wanted when it actually came out. I was looking for simple one-off stories featuring two great heroes put together in a strange situation drawn by one of the few, great living comic book artist legends who actually keeps upping his artistic quality in my opinion. So, when I found out it was actually an ongoing story I wasn't really interested. Later on, I heard good things about the book and decided to give it another shot in trade form. Enter the trades.
I really enjoyed this book and am glad I read it in trade form actually because there's a lot going on and I'm not sure if it came out on time, which would have meant I'd have an even harder time keeping track of everything. Waid really nails all of the characters, which include Batman, Hal Jordan, the current Blue Beetle, Supergirl, Lobo and others. It's great to see a writer who I loved growing up still having the chops to write intricate, fun stories that both play off of and add to the rich DCU, especially when others don't seem to be able to keep up as well anymore.
And speaking of keeping up, Perez kicks ass. This guy continues to blow me away with each new issue that comes out. I can't be certain, but I think I first saw his art in Avengers when he relaunched it post-Heroes Return with Kurt Busiek. And even now I'm enjoying Legion of Three Worlds when it comes out. So, yeah, Perez kills it in the first six issues of B&TB. You get everything from great covers to gorgeous splash pages and even great faces. The man's a master and he's the perfect match with Waid for this book.
The story itself follows the heroes trying to get a hold of the Book of Destiny on multiple fronts at various times throughout the DCU. It's the kind of story I want to read in my Justice League comics, not weird Tangent and Milestone stories forced upon the writer.
Oh also, bonus points for the annotations section in the back in which Waid lets the reader know where/when each of the characters appeared for the first time and a few other little tidbits, like the fact that Perez didn't actually know how to play blackjack before drawing a scene involving the game. I love extras like this and it seems like a pretty simple and easy addition that only takes up a few extra pages.
THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD VOL. 2: THE BOOK OF DESTINY (DC)
Written by Mark Waid, drawn by George Perez and Jerry Ordway
As much as I loved the first volume, I can't quite say all the same great things about Volume 2, which takes an opportunity to tell great silver age-type stories by having the Challengers of the Unknown reading through the Book of Destiny. I really like these stories, which feature the Silent Night, Hawkman, the new Atom, the original Teen Titans as kids, the Metal Men and others. But they're not just random stories, they all have to do with the big villain of the story Megistus a new villain who could be pretty cool in the future.
My main problem with this volume is that Waid uses the old "two heroes team up, have different ways of doing things and then learn from each other by the end" storyline a time or two, which, normally wouldn't be so bad, but in a collection like this it gets a little tired. The other problem is that Perez doesn't do all six issues. I've got no problem with Jerry Ordway and he even does a great job on his issues, but I love me some Perez and it would have been awesome to see him draw the 12 or so character battle against Megistus in the last issue. Also, on the subject of Megistus, I felt like his character wasn't really explained well.
Also, this collection earns no bonus points for extras because there are absolutely none. I'm guessing it's because Waid had moved over to Boom by the time the book came out, but an editor could have done the exact same thing. Oh well, I'm still keeping this one in my collection, at least until I have a few beers and clean out my bookshelf again (it cuts down on the sentimentality).
Written and drawn by David Lapham
I'll be honest, I wasn't sure what to think about David Lapham's Silverfish, mostly because I could not stand his City of Crime story in Detective Comics from a few years back. But, I've heard great things about his other work, so I wanted to give something else he wrote a shot and Silverfish is pretty short, so it worked out pretty well.
And, I really liked it. It's got a thriller/horror vibe to it as some kids in the 80s dig into the main girl's new step mom's past and find out she was into some pretty heavy stuff. I don't want to get into the story too much for fear of spoilers, but Lapham keeps a really good pace up throughout the whole story and I read it in one sitting. I like that.
My one problem with the book is the whole idea of the silverfish. They pop up from time to time, but are never really referred to or mentioned by anyone. I've got no problem with certain things not getting explained in stories, but this seems like a pretty big element to not get at least a mention. Oh well, like I said, I dug this book and would actually like to see it made (well) into a movie. I assume one of you is a big Hollywood person and can make that happen (if it's not already in the works).
Oh, DO go on.
Hey gang, sorry again about my complete lack of posts lately, things have been crazy. I have been keeping myself busy with movies though, so here are 13 short reviews about some flicks I've seen lately, plus one movie I didn't watch.
SIX STRING SAMURAI (1998)
I really liked this post apocalyptic-like road trip movie with a samurai Buddy Holly. The howler-monkey kid got annoying fast, but the action and snappy dialogue kept things moving along at quite a clip. Much better than I thought it would be.
OUR MAN FLINT (1966)
Flint's a swinging secret agent int he 60s more worried about having a good time than stopping an international incident (at first at least). Great, campy 60s spy fun, that both pokes fun at but also sets itself up in the same universe as James Bond. A lot of fun, can't wait to check out the sequel.
THE MAJORETTES (1986)
I don't actually remember too much about this movie other than it involved some maniac hunting down and killing high school cheerleaders. It's a way lower budget movie and apparently very little of the money went to snag actors who can, you know, act. Skip this one unless you're a horror completist or you're looking to cross another movie off in your copy of Creature Feature (like me).
DAY OF THE DEAD (2008)
I was actually pretty impressed with this remake-in-name-mostly of Romero's Day of the Dead. I'm not a huge fan of the original or anything, but I wasn't expecting much out of this flick and was surprised. The story moves along the same speeds as the fast Zack Snyder/28 Days Later-like zombies, but my favorite part is seeing actual people I recognize like Mena Suvari, Nick Cannon and Ving Rhames killing and becoming zombies. When was the last time you saw a non genre actor semi-famous person in a horror movie after they became famous? Hopefully it's a trend that will continue. I'm actually kind of surprised that they didn't release this movie in theaters. Oh well, a pretty good zombie movie all said and done, though not a classic.
THE SHADOW (1994)
In my opinion, it's hard to go wrong when you populate a movie about a pulp hero with actors like Alec Baldwin, Peter Boyle, Tim Curry, Ian McKellen, James Hong and Jonathan Winters and luckily The Shadow held up my opinions. I'm not all that familiar with pulp heroes, especially the Shadow, but I like the idea of him having a network of people all over the city (usually people he has saved) who help him out. There's all kinds of cool stuff like secret labs and ancient forces of good and evil. Oh and for 30 Rock fans, I highly encourage you to think of these as the early days of Jack Donaghy.
LAST MAN STANDING (1996)
A pretty cool story about a gangster-era hitman (Willis) holing up in a ghost town populated by two rival gangs, gets slowed down with a little too much back and forth back stabbing. I definitely don't remember all the details about this one, but I'm a Willis fan. Michael Imperioli plays pretty much the same role he always does and Walken stars as Willis' main competition and they fight which is cool. Can you imagine Walken fighting now? Aside from a dance fight I mean. Oh, also Walter Hill of Warriors fame directed LMS, so it's gotta be pretty good, right?
FOXY BROWN (1974)
So far my experience with blaxploitation films as been hit or miss, but luckily Foxy is enough of a hit. In the plus column, Pam Grier cuts quite the figure, plus she kicks ass. I also like the idea of a group of inner city dwellers taking the law into their own hands and creating their own kind of police force. I'm not a big fan of the sexual assault stuff, but I guess that's all part of the exploitation riff. Too bad Foxy and Shaft never got together. That would have been a great flick.
I'm not sure if I've professed my heterosexual man love for George Clooney on the blog before, but I'm a big fan. I think we'd get along smashingly. I do know that I've talked about how much I like the American Office, so you probably know I'm a John Krasinski fan. So, Leatherheads was a good flick in my book. It doesn't make my top 10 sports movies of all time (well, maybe, I'd have to come up with that list actually), but it's fun and it offered up a look at a period in professional football that I am completely unfamiliar with, so that was cool. Of course, it's a comedy, so I'm not sure how accurate it was, but who cares? Like I said it was fun. Has similar story elements to League of the their Own (which probably would make my top 10 because I'm a huge softy). Not groundbreaking by any means, but worth a watch.
JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (2008)
I liked Leatherheads more than Journey, but it's not a terrible movie (even if it is very predictable). The special effects bounce back and forth between boderline okay, pretty good and not so great, but the effort is there. I really wish I would have been able to see this bad boy in 3D. I missed out on the phenomenon in the 80s and have gotten a taste for it by watching Superman Returns (ugh) and Nightmare Before Christmas in lame separate the background from the foreground 3D. I can't freaking wait to see My Bloody Valentine 3D!!!
KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE (1988)
Holy crap I loved this movie. Rickey got me a subscription to a horror movie mag called Horror Hound that's not expertly edited, but still offers up tons and tons of horror goodness. One such bit of goodness was a whole feature on Klowns. The movie is just so much freaking over the bigtop fun. I really can't believe that a studio made this movie. Please, do yourself a favor and check it out. Also of interest on the DVD is the Chiodo brothers' home movies from when they were making monster movies as kids. Pretty impressive stuff for pre-teens with a 16mm camera.
VAMPIRE EFFECT (2003)
The combination of Hong Kong action and vampires drew me to this flick pretty quickly on Netflix. Heck, it's even got Jackie Chan in a roll that's more than him just walking on and being called Jackie (which he is). As with a lot of movies like this that I've seen, the special effects and fight scenes are sick, but the story itself is nothing new. I did really like the cool retractable whip/sword weapons they used. I think I designed something very similar what I was younger.
LICENSE TO DRIVE (1988)
If you thought Corey Haim could have been a little bit smoother, though still pretty spazzy in Lost Boys and Corey Fledman from the Burbs could use a little mellowing out, then License to Drive is the perfect 2 Coreys vehicle for you (puns!). Haim fails his driving test, but still tells a young (though still 18 by my math) Heather Graham that he can pick her up. It's basically like an episode of a sitcom, but stretched to 90 minutes and definitely edgier than your average Saved By The Bell. Good stuff. Next up from the Coreys? Dream a Little Dream (which I have absolutely no knowledge of).
Legend is one of those movies that I don't remember at all, but have since come to find that it's kind of a big deal (to some people). I knew that Tim Curry was in it, but had no idea Tom Cruise was. I thought it might be kind of a funny movie, but when I saw Tom prancing around the forest or whatever I clicked this badboy off and deleted it from my queue. I am no fan of fantasy movies.
JOHNNY BE GOOD (1988)
I'm becoming a pretty big fan of Netflix's recommendations. I started watching Johnny after digging License and wasn't disappointed. It's got an older and more confident Anthony Michael Hall and a completely goofy Robert Downey Jr.. There's a good deal of goofiness to this movie, which focuses on Hall as a football star getting courted by and visiting different colleges that want him. Downey plays his wacky best friend, but what struck me about the movie is how real it can be at times. Hall and Downey sell their characters like they're up for an award. Oh, it's also got Uma Thurman as Hall's girlfriend and Jennifer Tilly has a quick role. If you're an 80s movie fan, or just curious to see what Downey might have been like back in the late 80s give Johnny a look.
AUGUST RUSH (2007)
Sometimes you've got to add a movie for your lady to the ol' queue. I was pleasantly surprised with August Rush, not because the story is all the unique (you've seen the broad strokes before plenty of times), but because of it's view of music. The way they show the young boy experiencing music in everyday life, what it means to him and how he's eventually able to play it in his own unorthodox way really struck me. If you've got to watch a chick flick with your girl and you're a music fan, this is a good choice. Also, Keri Russell is in it and looking good.
KING OF KONG (2007)
If you haven't seen this documentary about the surprisingly competitive world of classic arcade high score competitions, please stop reading and watch it right now. This one makes it into my top 10 movies of 2007 (should a list ever actually exist). First off, it shows off a world I've never seen, which you know I love. Also, that world is full of deceit, greed, cowardice, heroics, villainy, triumph and defeat. The way the story is put together feels like a really well scripted feature film, though the events and the ups and downs are completely real. If you've ever liked anything I've written about on here, watch this movie.
Seeing as how The Death and Return of Superman is the story that got me collecting comics in the first place (and how deeply and utterly I bought into the idea that any of the four subsequent people could be the real Superman), I was very excited when I heard a few years ago that DC/WB was going to make an animated movie about that very event, I was psyched. I figured it probably wouldn't have EVERYthing that made the comic so cool (Superman turning back to save a family instead of finishing Doomsday off, that very 90s JLA facing off against Doomsday, an eyes-swollen-shut Guy Gardner asking his teammate to aim his fist at Doomsday so he could blast it, not to mention the four other "Supermen"), but that it could offer up a cool new look on the idea. And it's definitely a different look. I would have preferred them either go straight with the established look and continuity of the Bruce Timm/Paul Dini-verse or have a drastically different art direction on the project as little things like Superman's cheek lines become distracting. I was also distracted by the different voices for these characters that I recognize from a specific other incarnation that looked very similar but sound completely different. Even at 77 minutes it felt kind of slow, but the fight scenes are pretty great (though they don't hold a candle to JLU). I still hold on to my dream of one day seeing an epic, animated incarnation of the Death and Return of Superman though. A boy can dream, right?
Oh, DO go on.
One of my favorite aspects of Xbox's watch instantly option is that I can go through every movie offered online and add whatever looks even remotely interesting to my queue. Which is a great way to watch flicks by some classic directors. Within 24 hours, Em and I watched two movies by acclaimed director Billy Wilder (check him out if you've never heard of him, he's probably most famous for Sunset Blvd. which is worth your time). I actually didn't even realize that two movies I had already added were directed by him. I added Seven Year Itch because it's regarded as a classic and Marilyn Monroe's in it. Kiss Me, Stupid grabbed my attention because Dean Martin stars.
I'll start with the movie that was...less good, which is Kiss Me, Stupid. There are two huge problems with this movie. The first is that it's one of those stories where everyone's lying to each other to make things easier and the whole time you're yelling "just tell the truth" at the screen. Of course they never do till the end, because that would be the end of the movie. The other problem is that it's just kind of creepy as the guy who played My Favorite Martian (and was also on Picket Fences) lets stranded crooner Dino (Dean Martin if you couldn't figure out) hit on his pretend wife while he's in the room. It's even worse that Dino does it! It's well acted and all that and they even incorporate some of Dean's actual on stage antics in the movie, but, like I said, there's just too many things taking me out of the movie. Em and I watched it while we took the Christmas decorations down and were both completely weirded out. Skip this one unless you're a HUGE Dean Martin, My Favorite Martian, needlessly confusing story or Billy Wilder fan.
Luckily, The Seven Year Itch was awesome. The story follows a pocket book editor as his wife and kid leave New York City to summer somewhere only to head home and find out that the gorgeous Marilyn Monroe is living in the apartment above him. I've never seen Marilyn Monroe in anything but pictures (speaking of which, this movie has the famous subway/white dress scene (the the full-on image never appears in the flick). I freaking loved this movie. First off, it showed me a time period/practice I've never seen before. I had never heard of wives and kids leaving for the whole summer. Plus, I'm a sucker for anything set in New York City in the past. Next, the acting is fantastic. Marilyn doesn't just seem like the dityz blonde (though she is both), there's still some depth there without getting int he way. Also, the male lead Tom Ewell had some experience with the character as he played him in the original stage version. Even the smaller parts are all great. But what I really like about the story (and the basic story is very interesting as Tom tries, at the same time, to both be with and stay away from his neighbor) is that Tom gets to imagine all these different scenarios that we then see on screen. You know, kind of like Scrubs, but it doesn't make me want to punch someone in the face. I highly recommend this flick.
Now a few general points of interest/thoughts. Just for the record, Wilder wrote and directed both flicks, though he didn't write the play that Kiss is based on. I was surprised by the large amounts of sexuality and innuendo in both movies. I'm not sure if this was something that Wilder specifically dabled in, or if things were a little but more acceptable back then than we think, but there's all kinds of sex bubbling around the surfaces (most obviously in the "will he have an affair" plot of Seven Year Itch). I was also surprised to see that Kiss Me came out nine years AFTER Itch (Kiss is from 1964, Itch 1955). First off because Itch is so much better, but also because Kiss is in black and white while Itch is in color. Just some interesting things.
Next up on my Billy Wilder list? Probably The Apartment from 1960 which stars Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine and Fred MacMurray.
Oh, DO go on.
I've got to apologize again for my lack of posts. Things have been crazy, but I've been spending most of my free time watching movies and reading comics, so hopefully that will translate into more posts (if I don't fall asleep first).
So, one of the first things I did when I started watching Netflix stuff on Xbox Live was add the first season of 30 Rock. When 30 Rock premiered I wasn't all that into the show, which is strange because most of you know of my love of Saturday Night Live and I also watch The Office and My Name Is Earl which are on the same channel at the same time. I think part of the reason is that I started watching and REALLY liked Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip which is basically SNL on the west coast (as written by Sorkin). So, for whatever reason, it was hardly on my radar and I missed out on most of the first season. But I've been watching it since then and am a huge huge fan (I think it makes me laugh more than The Office now).
The one thing that struck me the most is that I had no idea how the series started. I just assumed it was an SNL-like show with a smaller cast and more dancers and that Liz and Jack were always friendly. Well, that's not the case, as the first episode shows Jack's first day, coming in and changing the Jenna-starring The Girl Show into TGS Featuring Tracey Morgan. Even though the series has been a lot of fun anyway, this made everything make a lot more sense.
There's a lot of great episodes, including the one where Tracey goes on Conan Obrien's show, but my favorite episode of the season has to be the one about Cleveland. As an Ohioan, it's always great to see one of our cities on TV (especially Cleveland where my mom is from and my Grandma still lives). It's what hooked me to the Drew Carey Show too. Anyway, I like that they kind of flip the script and make Cleveland out to be this cool, great place to run away to. The funny thing is that, according to Grandma (mine, not a character on the show) Cleveland and its suburbs used to actually be the hot spot for wealthy New Yorkers to summer at because of Lake Erie and it's relative proximity to NYC. Go figure, huh? It's kind of like hearing how many people went on their honeymoon to Niagra Falls. But anyway, I laughed for pretty much the whole episode and all the rest. If you're a fan of smart comedy, you can't go wrong checking out the first season. Some people say it's a little slow in the first disc, but I'm not one of them. Definitely give it a disc, though, to see if you'll like it. I ended up burning through the whole series in about three days.
Oh, also, I love Tina Fey. She's the cat's pajams as far as I'm concerned.
Oh, DO go on.
Man, the 70s must have been kind of a bummer. According to the three post apocalyptic flicks I watched the other day, we'd either be living great lives until we turned 30 and were killed, mostly wiped out by a plague or sleeping on every available staircase and eating processed people. Oh, also, chances were pretty good that Charlton Heston would still be around. He's just awesome like that. I'm a big fan of these kinds of movies and Heston, so this was a good mini marathon for me. Let's hop right in shall we?
LOGAN'S RUN (1976)
After a global holocaust, society has been rebuilt in domed cities where life is pretty good except for the fact that, when you turn 30, he get killed. It's just how society works now. But some people aren't too keen on the idea of entering the Carousel (a weird, anti gravity chamber that whisks the victims up into what seems to be a giant lazer zapper) so they try to run (and are thus called Runners). It's up to the Sandmen to find them and either kill them or...well, we only see them kill Runners. Our hero is Logan, a Sandman (played by Michael Basil a.k.a. Basil from the Austin Powers movies), who gets tasked with a top secret mission to find a place called Sanctuary that supposedly hides Runners. Well, as you can imagine, things don't go quite according to plan.
Logan hooks up with this girl who supposedly has connections to Santuary so the both of them go on this crazy adventure that includes operations to change face (with a sexy Farrah Fawcett), a run down ghetto filled with society's crazies, a frozen wasteland lorded over by a crazy robot and even the outside world.
I really liked how far the creators went with the story. It wasn't just about Sandmen vs. Runners or Logan getting to the outside world. He acts like a true hero and wants to tell the people in the domed city the truth about the outside world (to his own near peril). Plus, this is just a fun world to get a glimpse of with their age coordinated to the color of the clothing they wear to the jewels in their hand that change color with age. The whole concept is very cool and even the 70s cheesiness of some of the scenes (the robot for instance or the model of the futuristic dome city) add more than they detract from the overall enjoyment of the movie.
THE OMEGA MAN (1971)
After watching one interpretation of the future, I figured I'd check out another. This is one of many movies based on the book I Am Legend. From what I've read (I haven't read the book) this is a pretty drastic departure from the book as it starts Heston as a scientist who was immune to a plague that hit mankind and either killed everyone or turned them into super-pale zombie weirdo cultists. The cult members want to kill Heston because they believe he represents the old ways and the old ways lead to the end of the world.
As it turns out though (of course), he's not really the last man on Earth as he comes to find out when he runs into some fellow survivors (including a woman!). Things get really great for a while after Heston develops an antidote for the plague from his own blood, but it doesn't last. Without spoiling anything, the ending is pretty harsh, much worse than I thought it would be.
The scenes of Heston cruising around an abandoned LA are super cool. I'm always a fan of something like this because it's really the kind of special effect you'll never see in real life, a city of that magnitude completely empty (I also love the scenes in 28 Days Later with Jim walking around an empty London). Heston also does a great job of carrying the movie pretty much by himself for the first 20-30 minutes of the movie (not counting the mutants or the bust he talks to). Frankly, I'd watch Heston do just about anything and with the unusual turn of events at the end, this ranks up there are a great flick in my book.
SOYLENT GREEN (1973)
I'll be honest, I wasn't paying really really close attention to Soylent Green. I can't remember what else I was doing though I think it might have been writing a feature for the next issue of ToyFare (available in stores in February!). Anyway, I liked what I saw as Heston (yeah!) investigates a bunch of murders in a crappy feature where people sleep in run down apartments (or the stairs if they're really poor). There's also apartment complexes where the rich live with what can only be described as complimentary prostitutes. It's one of these rich guys that bites it early on, spurring the story on.
There's a lot of plot, most of which leads up to the completely spoiled ending that Soylent Green (a foodstuff sold to the poor) is actually people. I think it was first ruined for me in an SNL skit starring Phil Hartman. Oh well, no grudges held.
There's also a subplot with Heston's older friend and classic actor Edward G. Robinson in what would be his last role. There's all kinds of subtext as the older man spends time with Heston, the only other person who know that Robinson was dying of cancer. In the end it's a pretty dark and grimy film and even though we all know what Soylent Green really is, it's not what the whole movie's about. There's a lot of emotion between Heston and Robinson that becomes all the more palpable when you know the real life history behind the shooting.
I also really like the dingy future. It's definitely not the clean and crisp one of Logan's Run, seeming moor like Escape from New York than anything else, but without all the weird gangs or kind of like Land of the Dead with the merchants and poor people surrounding the palatial high rise. Whereas the streets in Omega Man are completely empty, the ones in Soylent are packed with the dregs of society. It's an interesting difference. Oh, also, the first murder victim's in-house prostitute gets really excited when her john buys her a brand new arcade game (according to the IMDb, it was made by the same guy who would go on to make Pong). It was pretty funny. It's fun to see what people 30 years ago thought the future would be like and how wrong they were. Fun stuff.
Oh, DO go on.
Like I said recently, I've been trying to watch as many movies as I possibly can with the Netflix on XBox option, but I've also had a few Netflix DVDs sitting around (though the Broken Arrow DVD was completely cracked down the center, so that's one less to worry about for now). So, here we go with the reviews.
I distinctly remember watching Westworld with my dad when I was younger, but I apparently didn't remember much but the very basics from the movie. I lucked out and got Em to watch it along with me and it seemed like she liked it well enough (she didn't make fun of me like she did after watching The Warriors so that's a plus). Anyway, I also really dug the movie, probably even moreso because I didn't remember every little part of it.
The basic plot is that there's this resort populated with robots where you can go and live like you're in another time period (Roman Empire, Medieval England or the Wild Wild West). You can basically do whatever you want there (including shooting and having sex with the robots, though, presumably different ones). Our story focuses on two visitors, one played by James Brolin, the other by a guy named Richard Benjamin who looked familiar, but nothing on his IMDb rang any bells. Yul Brenner also starts as the robot Gunslinger who keeps coming after Benjamin. Well, the vacation doesn't go quite as planned as the robots start revolting and SPOILER the Gunslinger kills James Brolin (Em and I both thought he'd be the hero, oh well), sending Benjamin running from the relentless cowboy killer robot.
There's a lot of cool special effects and writer and director Michael Crichton (I had no idea he directed movies) does a great job of selling the story. According the IMDb trivia he got the idea for the story after visiting Disneyland, which was pretty funny to me because it seems pretty familiar to The Stepford Wives, which I read, watched and reviewed recently. The trivia also said that The Gunslinger also inspired John Carpenter to create the greatest slasher in movie history Michael Myers. So, if you're a fan of either of those other movies or just cool sci-fi robot stories starring Jame Brolin and Yul Brenner, then you should definitely check this one out.
HARD RAIN (1998)
I'm not even sure why I put Hard Rain on my queue. It was probably one of those suggested movies that Netlifx does when you add a movie to your queue. Anyway, I wasn't all too excited to watch it when the DVD came in, but I'm really glad I did as this is a fantastic action movie with one of the coolest and best handled natural disaster plots I've seen in a while. Plus, it's got Christian Slater, Morgan Freeman, Randy Quaid, Ed Asner, Betty White and Minnie Driver sporting a pretty bad American accent.
Plotwise you've got Morgan Freeman leading a band of robbers trying to get their hands on the money in Slater and Asner's bank truck in a town in danger of flooding. Meanwhile Quaid and his fellow police officers try to save the townspeople like Driver and White. As the water rises (and boy, does it get up there) so does the tension and a great "anything can happen" feeling. It does get a little crazy at the very end with all kinds of allegiances changing and crosses being doubled, but all that water makes it okay in my book. You've got everything from a boat being driven through a church window to a wave runner chase scene in a high school. It really is just a fun movie that offers up plenty of "how are they going to get out of THIS" situations. I highly HIGHLY recommend this movie to anyone who like fun movies who don't let things like science get in the way of enjoying a movie (in this world, a gun can fire no matter how long it's been under water, so just deal with it okay?).
Oh, DO go on.