You know those weird little blurbs taken out of context from reviews that tv trailers for movies have? Stuff like “Rolling Stone says ‘intelligently plausible’” or “Roger Ebert calls it, ‘the greatest Italian Dark Farce of the last sixteen years!’” Well then, let’s say that Dredd is…
“early 90’s splatter-punk-grunge-cheese-art”
“The Matrix on a strict budget.”
While I would say of the eponymous leading character, that Judge Dredd is…
“a by-the-book Dirty Harry, if that book was the “Old testament.”’
“the Punisher with a badge and a reasonable concept of justice.”
“Dr. Who with guns instead of everything else.”
“played to perfection by Karl Urban.”
Speaking of Karl Urban, I would say that he is… Continue reading
Although he is sometimes dismissed as a result of his mainstream popularity, Stephen King is usually acknowledged as, if nothing else, a masterful storyteller. And rightly so; he typically has a casual tone which makes his works enjoyable and engrossing, and his non-linear storytelling is usually interesting and effective, though trying for those who dislike flashbacks.
The fact that he is usually a master of nonlinear storytelling makes King’s new novel, The Wind Through the Keyhole, frustratingly disappointing. King attempts to use a complex multi-narrative format and instead merely tells two rather straightforward short stories which are enjoyable in themselves but suffer from the distraction of King trying (and failing) to be clever with the narrative framing.
The Wind Through the Keyhole is a book within King’s sprawling Dark Tower series, which is chronologically placed Continue reading
I mentioned in my first article that this particular column grew out of a critique of The New 52’s Justice League. One of my principle grievances was the overall design. Jim Lee’s strength is his draftsmanship, unfortunately his sense of design is, in my opinion at least, his most frequent weakness.
I want to be very respectful here, because for as long as I knew enough to pay attention to the names of creators, I have been a fan of Jim Lee’s art. While his time with the X-Men was legendary, I thought that his masterwork really came from his time with the DC big boys, Batman and Superman.
A note before I begin: It’s difficult not to put the cart before the horse. When I realized how amazing the cartoon Young Justice was, I planned on doing a review for each episode with additional material addressing the design and other aspects of the show. I thought, logically, that beginning at the first episode was the way to go. It wasn’t until after I’d written that first article and published it (promising an analysis of Young Justice’s Cadmus Labs in the week to come) that I realized I needed a belated introduction. Then after a vacation and some procrastination I am finally getting back to it. Still, I am a firm believer in better late than never (I love you George R.R. Martin!) so, without further delay, here we go Continue reading
I spoke at length about Captain America’s costume previously, and ultimately my conclusion was that Cap’s classic scale mail and winged cowl still had a place in this world, though I did concede that Cap, like most superheroes could use a bit of updating. Cap’s buccaneer boots and outer shorts (or at least an incredibly visible panty line) were definitely on the chopping block and I felt that there needed to a bit more of a military sensibility to the figure to emphasize the Captain since the America was loud and clear. And I wanted something done about those ears. For some reason every major version of Cap has his ears protruding like a British noble with a deafness fetish. Continue reading
Rick Remender is becoming one of my favorite superhero writers. I picked up Uncanny X-Force based on the recommendation of several comic shop clerks after having sworn to never buy an X-Force title again after the childish, boring, pointless, gorefest of Kyle and Yost’s run on the title. (A book where every character is a rough analogue of Wolverine… including Wolverine!?! What isn’t interesting about that?). But, for whatever reason I took a chance on the book and I was elated. While I will defend Fraction and Gillen’s work on the X-Men, both being exceptional writers, I firmly believe that Remender’s Uncanny X-Force has been the best “X” title since the Whedon/Cassaday run on Astonishing X-Men. Continue reading
Now that Liam Neeson is engaged in a massive press junket to promote Taken 2: the Takening! everyone is again talking about how much they liked the first film (by “everyone,” I mean my friends and coworkers). And I suppose I can’t blame them, since Taken was a good movie that I myself enjoyed. Unfortunately, it also features terrible messages that are culturally toxic (for those who want to debate about this being a contradiction, I direct your attention to the generally received opinion regarding Birth of a Nation).
I hate to be the naysayer (a lie: I love naysaying), but I think many people who like Taken should be at least a little bit uncomfortable with it. And to that end, I will now present my argument designed to ruin your viewing experience. Sorry in advance.
My problems with Taken basically fall into two somewhat overlapping categories (with a third, more minor complaint at the end): it lashes out at modern cultural norms by reinforcing patriarchal ideals, it glamorizes the wrong kinds of violence, and (the more minor point) takes an entirely unnecessary plot turn at the end to remind us that Arabs are evil.
On a stylistic note, when I refer to the character in the film, I’m just going to say “Liam Neeson,” because the identity of the character is not sufficiently established or iconic to overshadow the actor when people talk about the film. I have yet to hear someone describe this movie by saying “[Whatever the character’s name is] kills everyone to save his daughter,” but I’ve heard numerous people say “Liam Neeson kills everyone to save his daughter.”
Also, as usual, spoilers abound, but since I’m only talking about the first film you should be safe even if you have yet to watch the sequel (which I have not, so maybe they address all of my complaints in it. But probably not).
Iron Man and Thor have some scripting problems.
They are the type of problems that become more evident after you’ve left the theatre and start really thinking about the movie you just watched. They become especially noticeable on repeated viewings.
Iron Man is reliant on the premise that the Ten Rings terrorist organization that has kidnapped Tony Stark is happy to ignore him completely while he builds his first Iron Man battlesuit.
Thor undergoes a transformation from arrogant and uncaring godling to a compassionate and selfless hero after less than seventy-two hours on Earth.
In the case of Iron Man, the director John Favreau and his script-writing team rightly chose the lesser sin of sticking with Iron Man’s origin even if it meant that origin might stretch the bounds of believability. Having made that decision, Favreau did everything he could to make it look like Tony and Yinsen were under surveillance and it was only through Tony’s genius that they managed to fool their captors.As for Kenneth Branaugh, well, any director experienced with Shakespeare understands working with poorly plotted scripts. He sold the believability of Thor’s conversion through breakneck pace and character charm. Though their strategies were different, both Favreau and Branaugh were utilizing the very basic technique of misdirection to minimize the inherent flaws in their respective films.
Christopher Nolan has no truck with this. Continue reading
I realize now that I will eventually be covering every episode of the excellent Young Justice series from the DC Nation branch of Warner Animation and Cartoon Network. With that in mind, I think it might be prudent to introduce the series as a whole to anyone who may not yet have given it a chance and to give a bit of an overview to anyone who might not be as familiar with the concepts as I am. I feel completely confident in describing the series as the best superhero television series since Justice League Unlimited and also the best version of the Teen Titans seen in any medium; television, comics, or otherwise. More impressively, the universe created for Young Justice may be the very best version of the DC Universe ever created. Continue reading