Category Archive: Reviews

Reviews of all kinds

May 24 2015

The Imitation Game

14 million. That’s the estimated number of lives that were saved by the breaking of the Enigma code. In honor of Veterans’ Day and the passage of gay marriage in the conservative Catholic country of Ireland (right next door to Britain), I watched The Imitation Game. This is an incredibly powerful, wonderfully acted, and often hysterically funny film about the group of codebreakers in England that were tasked to break the unbreakable Nazi code during World War II. And to think, today, in this land of freedom, there are still issues of homosexuals in the military, and the right of gay marriage. I fear others will look back upon this country and this time in history, and we will be judged harshly. imitation game

May 17 2015

B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth: New World – Mike Mignola & John Arcudi

I’m not really sure what’s going on here. There seems to have been a bunch of other stuff that happened prior to this that I probably need to know, but don’t. Anyway, populations of entire towns are going missing and it is up to the fish-man Abe to figure out what is happening. Oh, he might also be the anti-christ. Oh, and monsters and other horrible things are happening all the time so it might be the end of the world. I didn’t really care for this, which sounds strange after that description. While there was action and some character development, I just didn’t really care much and maybe this has to do with the fact that I don’t really like Guy Davis’s art. Sorry. 

May 14 2015

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – movie review take two

Since I’m (re)watching most of the movies I wanted to have a post for this title since declaring my intention, but I had done a review of the film before and, since little has changed, I am simply linking you to my updated post here. Enjoy.

May 10 2015

Fury – Garth Ennis

I really feel like I’m done with Ennis. This was just horrible. Typical Ennis complete with a dude with a messed up face, rape, tons of bloody murder, everyone being incompetent but our hero, and then a half hearted “I’m doing this because I really wish to help people.” I want to break this down and explain piece by piece why this story about Nick Fury, the hard core head of a spy agency, who has to take charge to stop an international incident, apparently by being a total jerk; however, it simply is a bad piece of writing and I don’t have time for it. 

May 05 2015

She Hulks: Hunt for the Intelligencia

The She-Hulks are tracking down superintelligent villains. The child from the future who travels back to our time has been done, if not to death, then to maim, but the story of Lyra the hulk from the future and her cousin Jen (also a hulk, but not a future one) could actually be really interesting. Brawn verse brains and Lyra trying to be a “normal” teen-age girl could have lots of great fights and poignent moments. Instead, it rushes through the plot and only gives us a couple of funny lines. 

Apr 29 2015

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Continuing with my HP movie watching, the series continues with its darker turn: with murder in the intro and a fun event turning into a horror show within the first few minutes. The story deals with an international contest of champions that our boy wizard gets sucked into and quickly results in danger. Of course there is still school to deal with and we are given (as always) another Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher and plenty of the typical teenage dynamics to contend with that are painfully hilarious. An enjoyable film with a fittingly frightening ending. 

Apr 27 2015

Interstellar

I was really looking forward to a science fiction movie, that incorporated interesting real science ideas, had some adventure, good special effects, and maybe even some romance. Instead, I got this movie. The horrible actor, McConaughy, is a pilot in our world that’s running out of food (PS this last part is actually very true) and it is up to him and some others to go off into space and find humanity a new home before it’s too late. As I stated, there was some action-packed and interesting scenes, but they were very few and far too in between (even I can’t feel a movie is successful just because it has the insanely gorgeous Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain or Michael Caine (who doesn’t age?)). The bottom line was I was rather bored throughout, especially as so much was telegraphed in the plot, that my happiest moment was when the film ended. interstellar

Apr 24 2015

Captain Atom: Armageddon – Will Pfeifer

Let me explain why this comic is a piece of crap. DC comics’ superhero, Captain Atom, sacrifices himself to save the planet (why this was the only option is ignored), but in “dying” he is sent to the Wildstorm comics’ Earth, where all their superheroes are total dicks. For unknown reasons Captain Atom is destined to destroy the universe. Why? How people find this stuff out? Why he’s alive and there and can’t get back to his universe? is ignored (my supercomputer told me). True to form, the Wildstorm guys are dicks to the point that even the good Captain acts like a dick, and the whole thing is for nothing. 

Apr 20 2015

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Do you love it when mediocre writers think they can improve upon literary masters? If so, then you’ll love this series. The finale of The Hobbit Trilogy is rather long, rather dull, and rather confusing for those who thought it might be true to the book. The original Hobbit is really a children’s story filled with action, adventure, and humor, written beautifully and filled with wonder; this film is an attempt to cash in and get people to watch the director’s cut of The Lord of The Rings. Truly disappointing. Hobbit

Apr 16 2015

The Furies – Mike Carey

It is an interesting idea based on Greek mythology: The Titan, Cronus, had been hunted by the Furies–forces of vengeance against those that kill their kin–since around the beginning of time, and comes up with a plan to get rid of them once and for all. Unfortunately, the story is directly tied to The Sandman universe and makes enjoyment of the comic impossible for those disconnected from the title (that had ended long (enough) before). I also wasn’t thrilled with John Bolton’s art. It seems like all the characters where drawn from friends modeling the person/pose and it gives that awkward feeling of pictures that look too close to people but not close enough that is discussed in the art/animation/CGI world. 

Apr 09 2015

Puss in Boots

While this might not have received the best reviews, I strongly believe that it is the best movie that either Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis, Billy Bob Thornton, or Amy Sedaris have ever been in. Ok, maybe that doesn’t say much. It is the story of the outlaw cat with his equally notorious boots and how he became a hero. Teaming up with his childhood friend, Humpty Dumpty, and another cat burglar, the trio take on the wicked Jack and Jill in order to get the legendary goose that lays golden eggs. The film was well animated and both exciting and cute enough for kids with little, dirty (maybe a little too dirty) comments to keep the adults entertained.

Apr 02 2015

The Punisher (vol 10): Valley Forge, Valley Forge – Garth Ennis

I liked this collection, probably because it didn’t have Ennis’s  typical Punisher tropes (see here). Instead it is a story that has been building involving a group of generals that have been deep in very shady actions who decide to deal with their vigilante problem by sending Delta force after The Punisher. The tale deals with concepts of honor and loyalty and the decline in American values (and I’m not talking BS like letting gays in the military, although there are a lot more long haired guys in Ennis’s special forces than I would figure). It was a solid tale of deceit and revenge. See what happens, Ennis, when you give up on cliches?

Mar 30 2015

Avengers Assemble & Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H

I’m putting both these Marvel cartoons under one heading which I normally don’t normally do except they don’t deserve their own entry. There isn’t much to say about these cartoons of comic superheroes as the plots are very cut and dry, the art rather mediocre, the characters are 100% archetypes, and at the end of every episode somebody learns a nice lesson. Is there something going on that’s making comic book inspired cartoons so very bland? It doesn’t feel like that long ago that there were amazing, well-written, action-packed, interestingly animated, and nuanced cartoons involving superheroes, but on reflection I guess that was almost a generation ago. Sorry, kids, comic cartoons are just for kids; I wish we could given you more.

 

Mar 27 2015

All The Wrong Questions: “Who Could That Be At This Hour?” – Lemony Snicket

Snicket attempts to follow his successful A Series of Unfortunate Events (which I did some reviews for but, unfortunately, did not create a series of) by taking his author/narrator character and making him the center piece. So maybe the correct question is: Why isn’t this story nearly as good as the last series? Well, the cast of characters are not as defined, there are less clever references to literature and language, the villain is obfuscated–a word here that means unclear and thus uninteresting–and the plot doesn’t have the same drive for completion: There is nothing here to keep me on edge and hoping for success. The tale gives the early years of Snicket and how he became involved in a bizarre world of crime and deceit and how his cleverness gets him through it. He is teamed with an incompetent adult to recover a stolen statue for its rightful owner, except that it isn’t stolen and the rightful is up to debate. Seth’s art is always fun, but it is rare, with his main picture being of events not depicted in the story. Sadly, there is no reason for me to continue with the series.

Mar 25 2015

Ultimate Spider-Man

Sadly, this cartoon about the nerd who gained superpowers after being bitten by a radioactive spider is nothing special. Lip service is made to being multicultural and tries to play to the generation that loves video games, knows nothing of the 4th wall, and may be willing to buy the toys that are set up on the show, although I don’t know if they actually materialized. Plots are thin, with occasional zingers and lessons to be learned but little to make you feel that you have been presented with quality entertainment. At least give us a theme song!

 

Mar 23 2015

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. 

Mar 21 2015

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

I decided enough time has passed that I could see the Potter movies and try to enjoy them on their own, as opposed to in relation to the books. I figure I’d start from the 3rd installment as that’s when I recall Hollywood making the effort to make them good, and it’s also when I stoped seeing them in the theater. In this film the boy wizard’s life is in danger as the only man to ever escape from the dreaded prison of Azkaban is gunning to kill Harry. This is also–in my opinion–when the story starts to take a darker turn. Horrific ghost creatures who suck the joy from you and a more tangled web of the larger plot begins. As I mentioned once before on this site, I am concerned that kids will watch or read the now completed series in succession as opposed to every year of two as they came out. In the latter case, kids will age with the book and be better prepared for the darker events. In any event, this was a fun movie, certainly no worse than most made, but really only enjoyable for those who are interested in the Potter adventures. 

Mar 18 2015

Tekkonkinkreet

Seriously? Perhaps the most sensible part of this movie was the title. Beautifully animated yes, but this interminable story about punk criminals in some crazy city was torture to watch. Other than using it at Gitmo I have little to say as I’ve wasted enough time on it. 

 

Mar 17 2015

Justice League vs Bizarro League

The plot of this short, Lego animated film of DC comic characters is actually pretty strong: Bizarro, the twisted clone of Super-Man, makes his own Justice League in order to fight off a threat to his cubical planet. As for the rest, it is often cute, but not necessarily great for older viewers. Justice League vs Bizarro League

Mar 16 2015

Two Gun Hart: Lawman, Cowboy, and Long-Lost Brother of Al Capone – Jeff McArthur

Second generation Italian immigrant, horse rider/ acrobat/ boxer/ wrestler/ circus performer, music lover, blue collar worker, honored Veteran of World War I, Nebraskan Marshall, agent of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, temporary bodyguard to President Coolidge, delusional and intractable in seeing the world in anything but black and white, idolizer of movie star Cowboys, perjurer, and flamboyant enforcer of the 18th amendment, are all terms that could be used to describe Vincenzo Capone, or Richard Hart, or one of the other names he (and others) called “Two Gun,” but if you called him anything at all—and that is extremely doubtful for anyone prior to reading this book—you would have called him the big brother of Al Capone: the most notorious Prohibition gangster of them all. This is a story so unbelievable, so incredible, it can only be true. The author does a fantastic job painting a vividly detail portrait of a man most could not even have imagined existed. Seamlessly written, the author takes the life of Richard “Two Gun” Hart and breaks it down into digestible chunks, brilliantly illustrating the people, times, and events that surrounded, influenced, and shaped the “other” Capone.

This is not simply a book one reads, so much as devours, and not alone, as I constantly felt the need to share in the discoveries of the book, reading passages to friends and family alike just to see the shocked and thrilled expressions on their faces that must have mirrored my own. Even people who lived to the times discussed, were still taken aback in disbelief. It is disappointing that the citations to clarify the many fascinating historical events are broadly listed at the end only, making it difficult to allow the reader to separate and make their own opinion about some of the speculations that the author engages in on occasion (for example, he continues with the faulty notion that a cow caused the great Chicago fire), although not without circumspection and insight. It additionally could be argued that the author is too reliant on integrating information about the criminal Capones with that of their long lost brother (who is, after all, the centerpiece of the story), a fact that he touches upon at the end, although the vast majority of it is clearly necessary to broaden the understanding of “Two Gun.”

The story is historically fascinating, poignant and deeply moving; a true adventure tale that speaks to the American character. It is a story about immigration, American values (and their mercurial manifestations), the (im)possibilities of (re)defining oneself, and family—for better or for worse. I can’t imagine someone not wanting to read this book. Find out more about the author and his works here

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