Black Panther

I suppose this is based on the comic miniseries that came out a few years ago, which I didn't read, and therefore I'm not sure. In any event, this cartoon version is often rather slow moving, and horribly animated (even if they did try to make the art look like Frank Miller did it). However, it is very funny and actually quite intriguing! Besides introducing us the character of the Black Panther, the leader of an isolationist, technologically advanced, African nation, as well as support characters and villains, it has a very interesting plot wherein a group of villains (and what a hodgepodge group it is!), backed by the United States, attempt a coup. Probably would've been better to just read the comic, since the animation is such crap, but how can you beat having Stan Lee as a racist US General?

Mad Max: Fury Road

I'm so glad to see that even after the Apocalypse (which appears to be something that could've been averted if we had moved away from fossil fuels) supermodels still exist. No, I'm not talking about Theron, but the one of each hair color that you'll learn about some 10 minutes into the film. And don't worry, there's someone for everyone: blonde, brunette, fake redhead, super blonde, and even a black woman who's whiter than I am with a tan. Former cop and now reluctant hero, Max, has to team up with no hair supermodel to escape bad guys. Everyone told me how great this film was. Yes, lots of action, explosions, car chases, interesting visuals, and characters that don't have a single personality trait passed the one action or line that identifies them. I feel this movie was a joke and I'm very glad I didn't pay anything to see it. Mad Max

Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E - Warren Ellis

The first thing you may notice about this review is I'm not going to give it the time necessary to fully detail why I feel what I do, mainly because I feel Ellis did a lot of short cuts on this work, so if he doesn't care, why should I? The saddest thing is that I really could've loved this comic. It actually assembles quite an interesting group of superheroes such as Machine Man, a west coast avengers Capt. Marvel, Boom-Boom, and some others I don't know, and yet they really worked well together and made a great team. The problem was the plot attempts to be Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol, while making fun of some really good characters with cheap parodies (e.g., Nick Fury) or simply making fun of the originals (looking at you Devil Dinosaur). I will say I loved the return of Forbush-Man, and if you don't know who that is it's because you're a person. I don't care if this won an '07 Young Adult Library Service Association award, the fact remains this could've been a really fun and interesting comic that avoids the Marvel continuity, but instead reads more like an insult to both Marvel comics and Marvel comics fans. Nextwave

Dune - Frank Herbert

It would seem the movie I saw many, many years ago made some very bizarre choices in terms of what to include or not include (or just make up) from the book, a book that I've heard friends talking about for also many, many years. Therefore, when my building book exchange had this first part in the series, I decided to finally see what all the talk was about. I went through the first hundred pages very quickly, as it is often quick moving, intriguing, and exciting, but by the time I was 300 pages in I really started to slow down for the next 200+. The tale largely revolves around Lawrence of Arabia--sorry--Paul, the perhaps messianic son of a Duke (did I mention the story merges a feudal society with interstellar science fiction and religious overtones?) who is sent to replace their hated rivals, lead by Baron Harkonnen (I do like the way he's portrayed in the movie), as head of the incredibly desolate, but vitally important, planet Arrakis, where spice is mined that allows interstellar flight (how they got to the planet without spice to begin with, is only explained in the appendix). We are told almost immediately that the Duke and all his plans will be destroyed, leaving us with about 200 pages of false suspense, jumping far too quickly into a whole bunch of stuff of Paul being a magical hero, and finally culminating by skimming over a whole lot of potentially interesting scenes. Undoubtedly, the repulsive Harkonnens are the most fun to read about, but most of the time we deal with a glorified version of Arab desert culture--the book came out in 1965 so the stolen words and romanticized, orientalist ideas was probably largely unnoticed. I'm certainly glad I read this book, but it seems unlikely that I will read its sequels, especially as I hear that the final one appears to be a set up for a conclusion Herbert would, sadly, not live to write.

John Wick

Neo, sorry, John Wick is a retired super assassin, who gets pulled back in after idiot mobsters pull a home invasion on him. The entire movie is simply shoot 'em up, so if that's what you are looking for, great, otherwise forget it.

Forever Evil - Geoff Johns

Maybe I should start with the positives. This is a story about the super villain Lex Luther, who has no superpower other than genius and egotism. After evil doppelgängers of the Justice League invade our world (the world of The New 52) and declared themselves masters of it, Luther and a small group of B level villains decide to fight back. I do like stories the focus on the bad guys' point of view, and especially those that involve second string characters. There's enough action and characterization here to keep me entertained and so I will recommend reading this. However, time to deal with the negatives. First of all, I thought The New 52 was supposed to be a kind of jumping on point for new readers. I'm pretty well-versed in DC mythology, yet there was a lot here where I have no idea what's going on, so for newcomers I can't think they'll be anything but lost. Additionally, there are really two directions to take a story like this in: Either you have it span over dozens of issues or more and allow the hundreds of characters that you pan over in the art and the first couple of issues to all have their say and matter in the overall story. Or, you accept the fact that the heart of the story really only involves a dozen characters and you immediately focus attention on them, so that you can work on character development and tell a good story. Johns try to play both ways, which accomplishes nothing more than wasting the first couple of issues. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Should it have been better? Definitely, and easily done. forever evil

300: Rise of an Empire

Ok, I didn't actually think this would be anything but a piece of garbage, and I was 100% correct on that fact, but I hoped there would be some interesting action sequences, and yet they were few and far between. It does pick up a point that was one of my many complaints against the original 300, and that is giving credit to the Athenian naval genius Themistokles fighting against the invading Persian army. Eva Green (who, apparently, I've seen in various movies and bizarrely do not have much memory of) is, of course, insanely good looking, and there are plenty of half naked men for eye candy, but perhaps the best part of this movie is dissecting the various negative gender statements it makes.

Edge of Tomorrow

What if Groundhogs Day was an action, sci-fi, movie (surely based on a video game) instead of a comedy? I actually had a good time watching this movie and you will too as long as you don't expect too much from it. It is about a reluctant soldier who gets sent to the frontlines during the final showdown between humanity and some bizarre alien invaders. For reasons that will be made clear if you actually watch the movie, every time he dies he restarts the day, and it is up to him and the hot, tough girl / possible romantic partner (and some assorted misfits) to figure out what is going on and how to save humanity.

Quantum of Solace

Perhaps this movie would've been better for me if I watched it almost immediately after Casino Royale. Otherwise this rather typical spy thriller action-adventure of good old 007 just didn't do that much for me. Yes lots of explosions, but the only real take away is that most people who sleep with James Bond die and I don't mean from some sexual disease. 

Marco Polo

This Netflix original series it is often very pretty to look at and has quite a degree of action and naked breasts, but for a story about the historical explorer, it has much to be desired, such as historical accuracy.  

Samurai Jack

Stylishly drawn and beautifully painted, this cartoon by Genndy Tartakovsky who points out that cartoons people like us grew up with (I'm looking at you Super Friends) actually had very little action, so he wished to make one with plenty of it, but at the same time not being a spastic mess. He definitely succeeded. This is a story of a samurai with a magic sword dedicated to destroying a great evil named Aku (Japanese for evil). When originally fighting the creature, the shape changing alien Aku used his magic to send the young samurai into the future, thereby ensuring there was nothing to stop him from world domination. Now the samurai, who goes by the name Jack, travels the world righting wrongs, fighting the forces of Aku, and seeking a means to return to him own time and defeat Aku, thus undoing all his evil. Here are the huge problems I have with the cartoon: Jack often sacrifices himself to do good deeds at the expense of accessing time portals, but the whole point is that if he can return home the future he is in will not exist, making the sacrifices meaningless. But hey, it's a cartoon. That's what brings my second problem and I don't remember seeing this now common trope before this point. Just about all the bad guys on the show are robots and Jack chops them up relentlessly. All that's fine, after all, they are just robots and so violence against them doesn't really mean anything. The trouble is that these same robots have personalities and survival instincts much like anyone else (and often look more human than the life forms now running around our planet), so doesn't that make them "real"? I wonder if seeing constant violence done again others under the excuse that they aren't "real" as it's just a cartoon might have negative consequences. It reminds me of the Star Wars' prequels wherein robots and clones die en mass but they all have distinct traits just like any individual. Anyway, it is a fine cartoon and I wonder why it ended.

Iron Man and Captain America: Heroes United

Or should it be Heroes United: Iron Man...? Anyway, it seems that Marvel is making a series of poorly computer animated, straight to video (is that even the expression any more?), films (is that even the expression any more?). This one takes our title characters and pits them against (besides each other (which is a staple of Marvel)) the Nazi/Hydra leader Red Skull and Taskmaster (who can copy anyone's combat moves). I do like that these films seem to include some lesser known characters--although Taskmaster is the main, behind the scenes, villain in the cartoon Ultimate Spider-Man, so maybe he has risen to B lister. The obvious problem is that these low budget movies are sort of thrown together in, I suspect, a day, at least the writing seems to suggest that, which mean that the movie just isn't very good, but, again, with a low budget, I'm sure no one in the industry cares. I do like that Drs Fump and Cruler seem to be comic repeat characters for this series.

Gravity

So here's a movie I should have seen on the big screen due to wonderful F/X. Dr. Stone is on her first space mission while commander Kowalsky is on his last, and just when everything seem fine, utter disaster strikes destroying their station and leaving them trapped in space. Very strong and disorienting visuals coupled with some fine acting makes it worth watching, and makes me second guess any desire to go into space.

Batman: Assault on Arkham

This is an extremely strong movie, not so much about the Batman, but about a group known as the Suicide Squad. This group of convicts are sent by a secret government agency to find and destroy proof about the secret government agency sending convicts out on suicide missions. Where is that information? Deep in the insane asylum of Arkham. The movie is rather edgy with its bloody death toll, sexual situations, and “harsh” language, making me a big fan. Still the movie doesn't quite fit in with the Batman universe based on events that take place and actions I feel the Batman would or would not have done. Still, I highly recommend it as a well animated action story that will thrill fans of the Joker, the Riddler, Harley Quinn, and especially, Deadshot.   

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I really enjoyed this film that takes the super soldier, Captain America, and former KGB-current SHIELD agent, the Black Widow, throws in a little super-spy Nick Fury and introduces the high flying Falcon (who was always one of my favorite superheroes growing up) and pits them against the nefarious plans of HYDRA and a mysterious kick-ass assassin (guess what he's called). The film is largely a merger of comic stories from Ed Brubaker and Jonathan Hickman (although I didn't see their names in the credits) and maybe that helped me follow everything--I can't say if others might miss out on some plot and ideas, but the main things I liked about the film was a streamlined--but not un-complex--story/cast of characters and plenty of very good action scenes that makes me wish I'd seen it on the big screen. Then again, maybe I just was thrilled to see Batroc (the Leaper!!). Seriously, I thought it was a well done film and rather surprised I haven't heard that much about it (as opposed to Guardians or Iron Man).

2 Guns

You may have read my post on the original, comic book version here. Regardless, the general plot is that two guys rob a bank, only to discover that they are both undercover government agents and that the robbery is the least of their problems. If they want to have a chance to get out of their situations alive they have to work together and unravel the conspiratorial web they are stuck in. Not a bad movie with some parts better/worse than the comic.

Crater XV - Kevin Cannon

It seems I never reviewed Far Arden (something that (I hope) will be rectified before you see this), which is s shame as I enjoyed that short (in stature) but thick, comic. As with the first book, this sequel should not be misunderstood. Just because it has cute art--with stage directions as sound effects--and is about a larger than life, heavy drinking, hard fighting, heroic Canadian orphan (who was both a government man and a pirate), does not mean that Cannon is attempting to tell some sort of feel good story. The plot, which is intricate, involving various faux Canadian government agencies that maneuver with foreign powers, space quests, piracy, lost loves, coming to terms with your past/future/destiny/choices/mistakes, and a whole lot of fighting. It's a bittersweet tale, much like the last one, and I enjoyed it. 

The Silver Six - AJ Lieberman

For a kid's story, it starts with the murder of a bunch of families by a corrupt energy company. Eventually, Phoebe, her robot pal, and 5 other orphans band together to discover the truth behind what happened and fight to set things right. It's not a bad story, although because it is for kids there isn't a whole lot done in terms of characterization other than the smart guy wears glasses and the the brown kid is brown (Darren Rawlings' art is a great deal of awesome, though). I do like the empowering nature of the tale and it has a couple of minor twists to help it along.