Monday, June 27, 2011

Comic Pick of the Week #8

So it would seem I'm a little behind in my blog post but there is a good reason. Nothing actually grabbed out and shook me by the nads enough to make me pay attention. It's all well enough to have the goal to pick a few comics to recommend to people. But pretty much every comic just made me go meh. Okay that's not true but I was looking forward to this week and it seems I got slapped by Marvel and DC for ever giving a damn about their comics.

I guess if I had to recommend anything out it would be Batman: Gates of Gotham issue #2. The first issue was a strong contender for pick of the week way back when, but I think it lost out to some strong competition. Honestly this is a nice story that keeps the reader interested in not only the current era, but the look back at the historical setting of Gotham City as it's just being built. So maybe I should get down to what was really bugging me with all the other books. Not only to get my general frustration out but to all extend this blog update to an acceptable level.

If we look at two of the comics I was looking forward to, I can better explain my attitude this week. Fables #106 and Deadpool #39 were two comics that I couldn't wait for the conclusion. In Deadpools case this was doubly important as I've been suffering burnout on the character, and this is the first arc in a while that I've cared about. Then it rushed to the end, and sorted things out in such a way that it just left me a little cold. I understand that Deadpool isn't the most serious character in the world, and yet this arc was really showing great possibilities for character development. But by rushing towards the end and just getting on with the next story I'm almost ready to quit this series because I want something a bit more.

Fables was also hasty in it's lust for an ending. In fact everything to do with Mr Dark has seemed to be rushed, and when compared to how epic the first Fable story arcs were it's a shame. Basically at the end of the last issue we have Mr North and Mr Dark ready to have a huge battle that I thought would shake the Fableverse. Instead it all resolved pretty quickly (I won't tell you what happens except for the fact that it's quick), and then we get all the fallout, which doesn't seem earned because the battle was so quick. Also threads that were started are dropped and just made me feel like I had wasted my time for reading them as nothing ever came of it. However, unlike Deadpool I'm not going to be dropping Fables any time soon. Fables is well written 99% of the time, with this being a rare stumble. Also everything that led up to the battle was fun, just the pay off did make me feel cheated.

So there you have it. Not so much a pick of the week as a more gripe of the week. But still do yourself a favour and go and get Gates of Gotham.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Reviewers are Critics are Reviewers

Oh yes my little dumplings, I’m taking on the positively hypocritical topic of reviewers. Do I dare complain about them and ignore the fact that I too am a reviewer? Or at least I like to believe that I’m a reviewer. Well to be honest I hope that even the movies that come across as bad in my reviews, I still manage to highlight what is good about them. I truly view myself as a reviewer not a critic and therefore try and be balanced. Okay I think I’ve covered myself, now onto the point of this little diatribe.

What the hell reviewers?

Is it me or is this the year to burn movies. I don’t think a month has gone by this year without a movie being proclaimed the worst ever. Sure there are some level headed reviewers out there, but it seems to be getting to the point where an average movie is going to be lambasted. In fact just calling a movie out as an average one seems to be a dying stance. There has to be some balance.

But it’s not just movies being proclaimed the worst, but other movies getting praised heaped onto them without really deserving it. X-Men First Class was a good movie but is it really the best blockbuster this year? It was a good movie, but there were some flaws, flaws that reviewers/critics do acknowledge and yet it seems to be given a free pass. “It succeeds despite the flaws so let’s give it more gold stars.” Wait a minute, it has flaws, doesn’t mean you have to bash the movie up, but still be honest with me Mr Reviewer.

I guess it all comes down to hyperbole being used to gain interest by reviewers, and also critics being mistaken for reviewers. Now I can imagine two questions arising from that last statement. First would be, of course some reviewers use hyperbole, you expected different? The other would be, what the hell is the difference between critic and reviewers aren’t they same? Well to each let me explain a little more in-depth.

First off I understand that sometimes you just want to yell from the top of some tall building that this is the best film/comic/book/game/booby trap of the year. But there is a fine line between being genuinely believing this and always resorting to this. Really every movie you’ve watched is a 9 or higher out 10? Or every movie is the worst thing except for an obscure film that was only released in 5 cinemas? Surely there are some average movies out there. Movies people can watch but aren’t the worst thing committed to celluloid. Opinions are strong things, people will get carried away with them, and I’ve been carried away with them. But I try and always reel myself in; why? Because I’m reviewing in order to help people figure out if they want to go to a movie or not. To truly give them a good idea of if they will like a movie. I just think there are some reviewers out there who want their opinion heard, but don’t give a damn if it helps anyone.

Now as for reviewers and critics I do indeed see these as two separate jobs. In my mind a reviewer will look at any film and try and nut out who would want to see it, if anyone. They are to weigh up the pro’s and con’s of what they are reviewing and then give the relevant information to the readers. Some reviewers will do this with a grade, others will try and give the impression mainly through a summarizing statement.

The critic’s job is to truly break down a movie. To really try and uncover all the flaws. In the end this is done not to create information for the possible audience members, but to create discussions on what are truly the best films period. Basically this is the process of creating a canon of films for people to study, to understand the art form of film. This of course means a critic is going to be harsh, and isn’t going to let the slightest blemish escape. Further more this means a critic should never be taken for a reviewer. When a critic is dragged into the world of the reviewer it will often skew the picture in a negative light.

Honestly what I’m trying to sum up is a justification for my own existence. As long as there are reviewers all too happy to rip a movie to shreds, I guess it means I should stick around trying to be level headed as possible. Now this doesn’t mean I get it right all the time, that I’m a number one. It’s just of late I’ve noticed this blood lust and it just makes me shake my head. There is also a lot of smoke being blown up movies asses. Wow I just realized what the whole point of this is.

IT’S OKAY TO SAY A MOVIE IS AVERAGE. You can have you 5/10 movies, you can be unsure; you can like and hate at the same time. Stop thinking that being in the middle means you’re on the fence.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Comic Pick of the Week #7

Well Marvel, Millar is leaving huh? Well there goes my interest in the ultimate universe. You’re cancelling Uncanny X-Men huh? Well I just started so thanks for that. I’m still suffering from Deadpool burnout and while I’m enjoying the Hulk story at the moment, but I’m getting the feeling I might be dropping it soon as Deadpool is just doing it for me any more. Finally Fear Itself is just doing it for me.

On the other hand I love Flashpoint. Especially this week as you will see.  Also I’m getting excited for the DC Relaunch. Sure there are some things that I’m not a fan of (Wally, Wally, where for thou art my Wally), but I can see my DC regular orders going up after the relaunch.

I’m not sure what all this means. Oh hang on yes I do. I’m pretty close to becoming DC exclusive. DC has already given me the engagement rings. I favourite is the orange one.

Uncanny X-Men #538: Thus ends the Breakworld story. I will say I really enjoyed it, and actually had a nerd squee moment with Wolverine last issue and that continued into this one. I think the writing has been really solid, and it gets me excited for the future of this comic. Oh wait. Still it should be a pleasant ride till the end of the series. Also this comic had my favourite line, courtesy of Dr Nemesis, “I hate space-ninjas! I hate all ninjas!”

Hellblazer #280: Peter Milligan is awesome, and his run on Hellblazer has been astounding. Getting John hitched was a plot development that could have begun a downward spiral in the writing department, but the relationship between John and Epiphany is well realised. This issue is really ramping up the stakes with John’s niece turning on her Uncle, while her revenge is focused on John I get the feeling that Epiphany is going to be dragged into the overall story. Let’s just sum it up, this story has me on the edge of my seat.

Legion of Doom #1: I thought that this was an interesting story, but it didn’t seem destined for my pick of the week. Then it happened, the final page, and suddenly I knew that I had to mention this issue. First off, obviously being the final page I can’t make mention of it, needless to say it was the use of a characters ability that I really loved, and it’s yet again gives Flashpoint this really groovy Elseworld feel. Can I really make a comic one of my picks of the week on just one scene? Damn straight this is my blog.

Deadman and the Flying Graysons #1: The art really impressed me, and I like how this particular Flashpoint fleshes out the world. I will also admit that one of my favourite television shows is Carnivale and this might make me slightly biased towards the whole travelling circus angle. Still I like how this seems to be using Dr Fate as a messenger of the destiny that was messed up for the world. Not just nods to a now alive Grayson family but the world in general. I’m hoping that this will be part of the bigger picture of the Flashpoint story.

Grodd of War #1: This was just a one shot and yet I really wish there was more. Gorilla Grodd is a fascinating villain; he has conquered all of Africa, is feared by many, and yet has a massive death wish. There is no real plot in this comic, more a snap shot of a villain getting everything he wanted. There are implications for the bigger picture, but this is really just a sit back, read, and get to know a villain. Something we don’t always get the pleasure in seeing.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Review - Super 8 (2011)

“Production Value!”

Starring: Joel Courtney, Riley Griffiths, Elle Fanning, Kyle Chandler
Director: J.J Abrams
Writer: J.J Abrams

Watching Goonies, Monster Squad, The Explorers and Wizard of Speed and Time, there was a certain feeling I got as a child that just has never been replicated. It could be that movies with kids are tamer now-a-days, could be that the age is just different and we have a more distinct understanding of what is appropriate for children. Watching Super 8 seemed to tap into this feeling that I’ve been missing, but was this nostalgia? Was this an actual good movie? Read on to find out.

Looking at the content of this movie, it’s hard to decide if this is a movie for Tweens, or if this is a nostalgia trip for older audiences. There is blood, swearing and it will scare younger children, yet throughout there is this old school teen movie feel. Personally I think that this would be a good movie for 13-16 years olds to watch with their parents. As there is a real heart beating throughout the movie.

J.J Abrams seems to have had a passion for this movie, and it really does show. A simple creature feature becomes something more in his hands. There is a look at childhood dreams, friendship, parental relationships and coming to terms with death. Also J.J Abrams paints the main alien attacking the town story with very broad strokes, allowing for the little details of other themes to really stand out. You have your big bad military trying to cover up stuff, the father not being totally behind his son, just clich├ęd story points that would have been negatives if it wasn’t backed up by the other story notes.

Acting wise everyone is on their game. Every child in the group does well, and has their own little traits to be able to stand out. You can picture these kids being friends. Highlights of the group would be Elle Fanning (yes she’s the sister of Dakota), who brings a restrained sadness to the character of Alice. Also Joel Courtney who plays Joe Lamb manages to really carry the heart of the movie. He is at the centre of everything, and it’s his relationship with Alice, his father and his friends that really create a wonderfully layered movie. I also dug Kyle Chandler’s turn as Jackson Lamb. Too often in this sort of movie, the lead parent is disbelieving of his son, but there is a different dynamic between son and father which is refreshing.

J.J Abrams last movie was jokingly referred to as Lens Flare City. Well there is some in this movie, but maybe one or two times. Instead he’s created a wonderful visual feel that transports you to the 70’s era. Also while the monster is revealed, early on it’s kept to the darkness, creating the tense atmosphere. J.J Abrams manages to balance the look of the movie with current techniques but instil into it with a nostalgic feel. I think J.J Abrams is hugely talented and is capable of creating a unique look for each of his films. Okay maybe that’s a little premature as he’ll need to do a few more movies, but let’s just say I’m calling it now.

Not being a parent maybe I’m blind to the suitability of this movie. Still this is just a brilliant movie. Everything comes together just right and reminded me of this joy I had when I watched certain movies as a child. I would recommend everyone take the time and go and see this movie. It might scare really young children, but tweeners (as they are known) might find a great movie to enjoy with the parental units. Look enough gushing, get your butts to the cinema and watch this movie.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Comic Pick of the Week #6

So I guess the big comic news out there is that DC is rebooting the entire universe. I must say at first I was kind of excited, but while there are some titles that I’m looking forward to, nothing has really grabbed me by my Batmans. Also why does the Bat Family have 11 titles and yet there is no consideration to things like Secret Six? Honestly this relaunch just doesn’t seem like it will change anything other than costumes.

Still having said all that we must wait and see before we can truly reach a verdict. I know us nerds tend to like to jump the gun, but I know that I’m still going to be buying all of the first issues. I’ll wait to I know a little bit more, but if anything is going to start getting me excited for this relaunch it’s going to be the Green Lantern books. I would have added Flash to that list but it looks like they’ve taken my sweet Wally away. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

So let’s get down to my favourite comics of the week.

Deadpool #38: Recent story line see’s Deadpool want to hook up with his one true love, Death. Unfortunately Deadpool has this whole can’t die thing, so he decides that there is only one man who can possibly help him. The Hulk. So begins a fun filled issue of Deadpool pissing off the Hulk all in order to die and finally get a date. This is the kind of Deadpool story that I like, fun, action packed and just a dash of thoughtful story at the core. Also the last page was a nice reminder of the character development Deadpool has gone through. I must say I’ve been suffering severe burnout when it comes to Mr Wilson, and this is a shame considering he is one of my favourite characters (I liked Deadpool before he was cool, *hipster moment*). But this issue has given me a refresh.

Batman Arkham City #2: Like movies based of games, comics suffer the same stigma. I recently got the inFamous mini series, and sure enough I kind of liked it because I love the game, but the comic was lacking. Yet here I am reading the comic that is bridging the gap between the two games Arkham Asylum and Arkham City and really digging it. I was waiting for the second issue to drop the ball but it hasn’t. The art is pretty good, but the true strength of this comic is the fact it’s written by Paul Dini, the man behind the plots of the games, but more importantly the awesome Batman Animated Series. I’ve only got three issues left, but I wish that Paul Dini was put permanently in charge of a Batman book.

Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown #1: Probably my favourite comic of this week. It surprised me and just was nothing but good times for me. I have a love of the Universal Monsters and this just tapped into that. Now the story itself isn’t that complicated, but there is action, there is a decent pace and as I said it’s fun. With Flashpoint, a lot of the comics related to it seem very serious, and this was just a nice diversion. The take on Frankenstein is a unique one, and I was digging this moralistic monster. I’m hoping that with further issues we will get to know the other characters in the group. Can’t wait to get me some more monster action.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Comic Pick of the Week #5

So this week was a big one for me, thanks to both Fear Itself and Flashpoint. I’m enjoying both these events to some degree but there are a few things that are starting to get to me.

With Flashpoint things are really moving slow. I know that we’ve got three months worth of comics ahead of us so it can’t be too fast, yet at the same time The Flash series before was a pretty slow affair and we need things to ramp up. As for the side content, I’m hooked with the alternative reality, but I’m going to need more than coolness of a new setting to get me through the next few months. Also with DC announcing that Flashpoint is going to be the big reset event after August, they better start getting me interested in that. (What’s that? I’ve already decided to get all 52 first issues when the relaunch occurs. Um, well, look over there.)

As for Fear Itself I have to admit it seems to be having the opposite problem. Things are going so quick and the actual story beats are gone before we have real time to soak it in. For instance Fear Itself as been leading up to a war in Washington DC, well book two gave it all of 2-3 pages, and bam done. I’m sorry, shouldn’t that be taking slightly more time in the main comic of this event. Sure in issue 3 there is the aftermath, but it seems to be going way too quickly for my liking.

Having said all that I’m still enjoying both these events, I just wish I was being wowed a little more. Anyway that was the round up of the two big events, now onto my favourite comics of this week.

Uncanny X-Force #11: I’ve been really enjoying everything this series has to offer, and now it gives me more of the Age of Apocalypse. Now I really enjoyed the Age of Apocalypse and it was the first big event that I really got my hooks into. Revisiting this world is kind of cool, and being there with this team is even better. Also this comic series probably give us my favourite depiction of Deadpool currently. There are better versions of the Merc with the Mouth, but this is a fine enough job.

World of Flashpoint #1: Out of everything I got this week, this was a purchase I just got because of its link to Flashpoint. Funnily it’s turned out to be my favourite of the Flashpoint stories so far. I like the character of Traci and the dynamic with her father. I thought that this was set up pretty damn well. Also the story of humanities response to the current war between the Amazons and Atlantis intrigued me and offered me a glimpse at the bigger picture of Flashpoint, something which was lacking in all the other Flashpoint stuff. I’m really looking forward to the next issue.

Fear Itself – The Deep: Yet again another side story in a huge event that grabbed my attention. Was it having the focus on Namor? Maybe. Was it having a threat to Namor so large it made him shut up for ten seconds? Oh hell yeah. Add into that Dr Strange and a reassembling of the Defenders (kind of) and I’m excited. In one issue this has got me involved with the characters, which is more than the main Fear Itself story. I just hope it can keep up, and isn’t pressured by what seems to be immense time pressure; on this entire event run.