Category Archive: Reviews

Reviews of all kinds

Jul 08 2015

Shutter (vol 1): Wanderlost – Joe Keatinge

Okay so there’s this girl and apparently she was once this big-shot explorer, but now she’s retired for some reason despite not even being 30, and she lives in this magical world that has some similarities to ours, and she has a best friend and some sort of robot cat which we know nothing about, and her dad’s dead (which is sad, but we didn’t know him), and people are trying to kill her for some reason, and apparently she has some unknown siblings who are also trying to kill her–okay the point is there’s a lot of stuff happening here, but nothing actually happening in the sense of helping us understand what type of the world we are dealing with, who the main character is and why should we care about her, etc., you know, basic plot points. This seems like something I would like, but first I have to have some clue as to what is going on. shutter

Jul 07 2015

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (Parts One and Two)

This is a two part direct to video cartoon adaptation of the revolutionary comic by the same name. I saw the first part at Kym’s place with Cory and stumbled upon the conclusion many months later (and re-watched it many months later for another time). It is the story of the vigilante coming out of forced retirement to deal with new and returned threats (as well as friends). When the comic was first made it was ground breaking in many respects, but let’s just deal with the idea of the movie. I thought it was well done, being truthful to the original with enough changes to keep it interesting and probably spark some debate as to whether or not they were helpful (and I would gladly jump in on both sides). I’ve heard arguments that the story itself doesn’t hold up after the generation plus since its publication, but I disagree. Despite that many viewers probably have no idea what the Soviets were, it makes some fun points on ideas of excessive liberalism and blindly following authority. And I think it is still a strong story with interesting characters, concepts, and action scenes. I will say that the voice actors, while not bad, just didn’t strike me as “correct.” 

Jul 06 2015

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.

Jul 05 2015

A Bintel Brief: Love and Longing in Old New York – Liana Finck

The intelligent and beautiful Ms. Finck presents us with a largely forgotten part of New York history in the form of letters to the editor of The Forward, and incredibly influential Yiddish newspaper at the turn of–not this last one but the one before–the century, asking for advice. I do have some problems with it, some of the light blue writing couple with light blue drawings, and very sketchy ones at that, don’t always demonstrate her full talent, and some of the comics could be better laid out on the page. Additionally, and I don’t know if this is how it actually worked out, editor Cahan’s replies to some incredibly poignant dilemmas seemed far too brisk. Still, it is an insightful and powerful, if, and forgive the term, brief exploration into a fascinating historical time and the immigrant mindset. I can’t say for sure if this work is for everyone, but definitely want to try to make and eat some schav. bintel brief

Jul 03 2015

The Wicked + The Divine (vol 1): The Faust Act – Gillen McKelvie

Maybe I would’ve liked this comic more if it didn’t read like a set up for the next collection. The premise is that every 90 years 12 gods (who exactly seems to be somewhat random) are awaken in the body of teenagers and they have all sorts of cool magical powers until they die two years later. I suppose it is supposed to be a metaphor for the live fast, die young / fleeting nature of Hollywood fame, but it’s not. Instead you have a collection of very uninteresting characters with one or two humans you are supposed to relate to, and a murder mystery that no one is actually trying to solve. I didn’t actually care about anything until the very end and now I just don’t care enough to keep reading. The wicked and the divine

Jul 02 2015

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

This is actually the only Potter movie I never saw any of prior to my (re)watching of them. In it, Harry, the no-longer-a-boy wizard and friends, seek to put an end to the return of the Dark Lord before he fully establishes his rule. It’s definitely for the best that the last of the Potter books was split in two for the movies as it is far too long. Unfortunately, like the book, this first part is rather slow. There are interesting ideas here like the idea of sacrifice to protect what you care about (whether a person or a way of life) and elements of fascism are displayed as evil wizards take control of more and more of magical society. Still, rather slow. The book tries to instill elements of adolescent angst during the early parts but comes across as presenting a group of annoying teens. And I had a hard time hearing everything that was said and think it might just be a product of the library copy I had–it is still very frustrating.

Jul 01 2015

Five Ghosts: The Haunting of Fabian Gray & Lost Coastlines – Frank J. Barbiere

You can either figure it out from the blurb on the cover or wait for issue four of the first collection, but this series is about an adventurer who can tap into the skills of five fictional characters in order to aid him in whatever quest he is on, often one involving trying to rescue his twin sister’s soul. Honestly, I am not too impressed. There’s absolutely no substance to the characters or plot, making it geared towards younger readers, who, in turn, may be confused by the time shifts in the comic and most certainly won’t get the Lovecraft reference. While Chris Mooneyham art is ok, and Lauren Affe’s muted and few colors provides an excellent touch, the whole work seems like it could’ve been done better as a Kid Eternity comic or just trying to be less of a pulp fiction novel a la H. Rider Haggard. five ghosts

Jun 28 2015

Saga (vol four) – Brian K. Vaughan

It’s been about a year since I’ve read the last volume, but with a straightforward plot line of star-crossed lovers with a child, trying to outwit government forces that are more than a little annoyed about the two quitting their war (being that they’re on different sides and all), it didn’t take much to remind me of the cast of characters and their situation. Unfortunately, I was rather disappointed. If I was new to the book I would see nothing to recommend it. Yes, there are some dramatic turns and wrinkles, but the bottom line is that it is a story about a married couple starting to drift apart due to mundane stress. But even that story seems contrived as a desperate attempt to add a new development. The unfortunate truth is that despite having every issue to begin with a splash page that acts as misdirection and ending every issue and with a splash page that hopes to provide a cliffhanger, the story seems to have run out of steam, and for work that I praised wholeheartedly in the beginning, I have no eagerness to keep reading. Saga

Jun 26 2015

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince [Take Two]

Once again I’m reviewing a Harry Potter movie I’ve both seen and reviewed, but wanted to re-mention it and add a few new thoughts. In this film our hero boy wizard and friends continue to figure out ways to defeat the Dark Lord. Unlike the last movie that focused on action, this one is very much centered on relationships between the various players and so I suspect it wasn’t very enjoyable to most viewers, but I liked it well enough. Luna makes some brief appearances and continues to be my favorite character and love of my life.

Jun 23 2015

Barbarian Lord – Matt Smith

By its own admission, this comic is as much Icelandic saga as it is Thundarr the Barbarian (lords of light, do you remember who that is?); however, the problem is it just doesn’t come together well. I love the cute art, and still have a hard time believing this is not Jeff Smith, but the story tends to be a little all over the place. Don’t give me a lineage with bizarre names, but then settle on the idea that none of that matters and proceed to give people names such as Barbarian Lord. I still can’t figure out if our hero is even that, whether he’s incredibly clever or rather dense, or if some of the hilarious lines are even meant to be funny. It seems like a work in progress, and when it does figure out what kind of a comic it is, I’ll be happy to give it a second look. Barbarian lord

Jun 20 2015

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

You all know the story, but do you know what comes after? when they grow up? They hunt witches! Actually, they kind of suck at it, like stupidly so. The movie wants to be an Evil Dead but incorporates far too much of Van Helsing. It actually could have been a lot of fun if people spent more than a weekend on its creation.

 

Jun 17 2015

The Secret Service: Kingsman – Mark Millar

Despite the incredibly positive reviews, the fact that the comic was turned into a movie, and had a great creative team of Millar, some quixotic direction from Matthew Vaughn, and art by Dave Gibbons, this comic was a pathetic, half-hearted, piece of garbage. Purely done by the numbers, with painstakingly embarrassing attempts to hit certain bullet points, there was almost nothing original here. It is not worth my time to go into the various defects, and the fact remains that whatever opinion I have is clearly wrong, due to, as I said, the reviews and popularity. I guess I have no idea what makes for a good comic. kingsman

Jun 16 2015

Jurassic World

You kind of have to know the original Jurassic Park to have this movie resonate at all, and this film goes on the premise that it is the reopened theme park that used dinosaur DNA to bring them back to life and exploit them for human viewing. I don’t know what made me think this movie might be good, but I was very wrong. I don’t know how you could have a movie about dinosaurs running rampant and still have it not exciting, not frightening, not even interesting, and every character and plot line about the humans made absolutely no sense, which I guess was fair considering none of them seem to know their lines. Yes, they certainly looked like real dinosaurs on the screen to me, and yes, the comic relief character of Larry was fine, but really nothing else in this movie worked. The last time I saw a movie in theaters it also stared Chris Pratt but at least in Guardians of the Galaxy he was funny and interesting and the movie was pretty good, but here you had nothing. I’m almost positive there was one final scene after the credits, but I couldn’t be bothered to wait around. What a shame; glad I only paid $5.

Jun 14 2015

Oz Great and Powerful

How and when did director Sam Rami become mainstream? Anyway, ne’er do well Oscar, AKA Oz, the stage magician, wishes to be someone important. Well, getting accidentally transported to a magical land might give you more than you wish, as Oz has to save the kingdom from an evil witch. Disappointingly, the acting is horrible, direction poor, and F/X lame, plus it’s too long.

Jun 11 2015

Batman/Superman: Cross World vol 1- Greg Pak

The “new” 52 has the young Batman and Superman meet for the first time, get involved with some sort of trickster god, jump across dimensions, and accomplished absolutely nothing (that’s not really much of a spoiler, there must be dozens of ways a comic can end with nothing resolved). Let’s temporarily ignore the fact that this comic was incredibly boring, and in the end meaningless, I’m not sure how it was supposed to entice people into the DC universe. In no way does it really introduce the characters, relying only on what you already know, and doesn’t particularly make them enjoyable. I suppose some of the art was interesting, I’m just not sure what I’m supposed to take away from it, other than exactly what the characters in the comic themselves did, which was exactly nothing. Batman Superman Greg Pak

Jun 08 2015

The Secret World of Arrietty

What a wonderful, magical film! Based on the children’s story The Borrowers (which I never read and didn’t hear about until I was an adult), about tiny people that live in walls and “borrow” what they need, the film tells the story of tiny–but ever so courageous–Arrietty, and her chance meeting with the sweet but sickly human Shawn. Filled with heart, adventure, and suspense, along with the incredible animation of Ghibli studio, you simply can’t miss this movie. 

Jun 04 2015

Through The Woods – Emily Carroll

If you are looking for a collection of very creepy short stories partially based on fairytales, with imaginative almost childlike artwork, and vibrant if few colors, then you will love this. I’m pretty sure this work is geared towards children, but many of the stories, especially the shorter ones really freaked me out. Great job. Through the woods

Jun 02 2015

The Masochists – Nick Bertozzi

I want to like this little indy comic with its simply drawn, black and white, only a couple of panels on a page comic, yet I can’t. Bertozzi uses broad strokes to paint pictures of people dealing with problems in their lives, although it is really only the 3rd and final story that any “real” problems exist. The trouble is his strokes are so broad that I don’t have any feel for or understanding of the characters and thus can’t actually care. 

May 28 2015

Joker – Brian Azzarello

I really enjoyed this take on the Batman villain, the insane Joker, as told by a henchman. Azzarello does a nice job with small details, such as keeping timeframes out of the equation, as well as larger ones, such showing how someone might be enraptured into a sociopath’s world. I did feel the ending just sort of happened and thus was disappointed with that. Jeff Bermejo’s art created “realistic” depictions of the usual suspects with a harsh horrific style that was perfect for this work. 

May 27 2015

Flight of the Conchords

This two season show from HBO about two rather awkward musicians from New Zealand (yes, THE New Zealand!) attempting to make it big in NYC is dead pan hilarity! The musical numbers are great fun that often have me rolling with laughter and the absurdity of the characters and their mundane situations are absolute delights. I was really disappointed to realize that it only lasted two seasons, and don’t understand why, despite its success, it didn’t continue.

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