Monday, May 31, 2010

Chesire


Yeah, Catman hit that.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Justice League: Generation Lost #2


I love this comic. Other than one complaint (which I'll get to in a second) I'm totally on board for Keith Giffen's tale. Maxwell Lord has made the world forget his existence. Not only that, he's disgraced the few heroes who remember him in the eyes of the rest of the DCU. Ice is seen as unstable, Fire was let go from Checkmate, Captain Atom is now a renegade, and Booster Gold...well, he's still Booster Gold. Booster's reputation was so tarnished Max didn't even need to worry about him. Though the change Max makes to Ted Kord's death is perhaps the deepest cut of all.

Max Lord is free to start anew and the only ones who might stand in his way are seen as lunatics at best and unstable loose canons at worse. This has all the makings of a comic I will gladly pick up every two weeks! Now for my one complaint - Guy Gardner. I had assumed that Guy would be introduced sometime during the series, as he is here, but that he would be part of the original team who would remember Max. Sadly that's not the case. I know Gardner's gone through some changes since Giffen has had his hooks in him, but I was really hoping Guy would help round out this team (I'm also holding out hope for J'onn, Mister Miracle and Oberon). Of course if he hits his head on something... Just a suggestion, Mr. Giffen. Must-read.

[DC $2.99]

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

What do you say about a film which includes a "dagger of time" and magic sand which powers its time traveling capabilities? Yeah...magic sand!? Let's get this out of the way right from the start - Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is ridiculous. Yes, utterly and completely ridiculous. It is however, at times, also fun.

Trying to find a good movie adapted from a video game is akin to finding a boy band who has aged well over the years. It just doesn't happen all that often. Director Mike Newell and screenwirters Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro, and Carlo Bernard attempt to adapt the video game franchise created by Jordan Mechner for the big screen. How successful they are is debatable.

The story centers around Prince Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal), a street uchin who as a child was adopted into the family of King Sharaman (Ronald Pickup) and now is one of three princes of the Persian Empire. Although miscast (he's neither an action star nor Persian) Gyllenhall relies on his charm to provide the kind of scruffy likable hero the film needs to build it's silly premises around.

Led by his eldest brother (Richard Coyle) the Persian army invades the holy city of Azad which is ruled by the beautiful Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton). Although Dastan believes the siege on the city is about weapons being sold to Persia's enemies, in fact the real reason is a hidden secret power which could unstabalize the region - a dagger which allows he who wields it to change small moments in time.

You can guess what happens next. The scruffy prince and the beautiful princess will learn the truth and be forced to join forces. Along the way they will meet amusing sidekicks (Alfred Molina, Steve Toussaint) have misadventures, and finally learn to trust each other and protect the knife against the villain who will use it. Now I'm not going to tell you who the bad guy of the flick is, since the script makes a token effort to hide his identity, but the film's poster should give you a pretty big clue.


Gyllenhaal never takes himself or his circumstances too seriously. Both he and Arterton understand immediately what kind of movie the are in and simply go with it. That plus the film's quick pace, not giving you a second to question some very sketchy plot points, create the kind of fast riding summer movie that many enjoy.

That isn't to say Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is without problems. Too much of the action is blurry handheld quick-cut sequences that comes off more muddled than exciting. Daston also jumps around with the dexterity of a video game character (who does he think he is, Speedball?), but many such scenes are more giggle-inducing than awe-inspiring.

The movie certainly isn't for everyone. I'll offer a slight recommendation, but I certainly wouldn't spend much time arguing with those who come away unsatisfied. It's not as good as the first Pirates of the Caribbean (as it is being marketed), but if you enjoyed The Scorpion King or the The Mummy Returns than it maybe for you. Just keep your expectations low and be ready to check your brain at the door.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Secret Avengers #1


The post-Norman Osborne Avengers relaunches continue with Steve Rogers' own black ops team of Secret Avengers. The first issue does a good job of giving you a feel for each member (Black Widow and Valkyrie, War Machine, Moon Knight and Ant-Man, Sharon Carter, and Beast) while providing flashbacks on how Rogers convinced the more reluctant members to join the team. As first issues go its solid. Not great, but solid (though the final panel did made me wince). Worth a look.

[Marvel $3.99]

Green Lantern #54


I thought I taw a puddy tat. I did! I did tee a puddy tat! There's a new Red Lantern in town and he's a cat. Okay, that's kinda cool. I think I'll name him Fluffy. Yeah, Fluffy the Red Lantern. Bask in the awesomeness of Fluffy the Red Lantern! Sadly we also need to discuss the story... The mystery of the white lantern deepens as we are shown images of other entities like Parallax and Ion. Great, there are more of them? I think I feel a migraine coming on. So to recap: Red Lantern Fluffy - awesome, more multi-colored space symbiotes - not so much. Hit-and-Miss.

[DC $2.99]

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dark Wolverine #86


I'll be honest, I've never been Wolverine's biggest fan. Although I like Logan well-enough I still consider him the most overrated character in the entire Marvel Universe, and perhaps all of comics. I certainly wouldn't rank him in the same list with Spidey, Cap, or Shellhead. I've been less than glued to his war with Romulus, and although I liked the character of Daken as part of the Dark Avengers on his own he's far less charming. All that said, this issue does deliver its fair share of action, Logan faced with making a hard forced admission, and Daken proving once again the kind of sociopath that fears and respects no one. And then you have the unsatisfying conclusion. Sigh. I understand the appeal of a character who can do anything at the drop of a hat, but it seems a bit odd to me that of all the characters from Dark Reign it's Daken who is getting to keep his own book. It would be as if DC gave the Joker his own comic (wait, they did that). Hit-and-Miss.

[Marvel $2.99]

Detective Comics #865


"Beneath the Mask" continues to examine the fall of Jeremiah Arkham and offer some explanation as how the asylum administrator found himself taking the name of crime lord Black Mask. The story itself is only so-so but it does plant seeds for future problems for Batman including a new head of the asylum, Alyce Sinner, who may be no more sane than her predecessor.

[DC $3.99]

Batman...


...always makes Wonder Woman cry

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Green Lantern synopsis


Warner Bros. has released a short synopsis of the upcoming live-action Green Lantern film starring Ryan Reynolds scheduled for release in 2011. I know I'm not supposed to feel fear, but there's quite a bit here which frightens me including a plot which involves Parallax (um, what?) and Carol Ferris more as a fellow pilot (perhaps a merging of Carol and Cowgirl from the current comic run) than Hal Jordan's boss.

Read for yourself:

GREEN LANTERN


Bringing the enduringly popular superhero to the big screen for the first time, “Green Lantern” stars Ryan Reynolds (“X-Men Origins: Wolverine”) in the title role, under the direction of Martin Campbell (“Casino Royale”).

In a universe as vast as it is mysterious, a small but powerful force has existed for centuries. Protectors of peace and justice, they are called the Green Lantern Corps. A brotherhood of warriors sworn to keep intergalactic order, each Green Lantern wears a ring that grants him superpowers. But when a new enemy called Parallax threatens to destroy the balance of power in the Universe, their fate and the fate of Earth lie in the hands of their newest recruit, the first human ever selected: Hal Jordan.

Hal is a gifted and cocky test pilot, but the Green Lanterns have little respect for humans, who have never harnessed the infinite powers of the ring before. But Hal is clearly the missing piece to the puzzle, and along with his determination and willpower, he has one thing no member of the Corps has ever had: humanity. With the encouragement of fellow pilot and childhood sweetheart Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), if Hal can quickly master his new powers and find the courage to overcome his fears, he may prove to be not only the key to defeating Parallax…he will become the greatest Green Lantern of all.

Campbell directs “Green Lantern” from a screenplay by Greg Berlanti & Michael Green & Marc Guggenheim and Michael Goldenberg, story by Greg Berlanti & Michael Green & Marc Guggenheim, based upon characters appearing in comic books published by DC Comics.

The film also stars Blake Lively (upcoming “The Town,” TV’s “Gossip Girl”) as the spirited Carol Ferris, a test pilot and the heir apparent to her father’s aviation company; Peter Sarsgaard (“An Education,” “Flightplan”) as scientist Dr. Hector Hammond; Mark Strong (“Sherlock Holmes”) as Sinestro, Jordan’s powerful mentor in the Green Lantern Corps; Jay O. Sanders (“Revolutionary Road”) as Carl Ferris, Carol’s aircraft designer dad; Temuera Morrison (“Star Wars” Episodes II and III) as Abin Sur, Jordan’s alien predecessor; Taika Waititi (TV’s “The Flight of the Conchords”) as flight navigator Tom Kalmaku, Hal’s good friend and confidante; Academy Award® nominee Angela Bassett (“What’s Love Got to Do with It”) as enigmatic government scientist Amanda Waller; and Academy Award® winner Tim Robbins (“Mystic River”) as Hector’s influential father, Senator Robert Hammond.

The film is being produced by Donald De Line (“The Italian Job”) and Greg Berlanti (upcoming “Life As We Know It”). Herbert W. Gains and Andrew Haas serve as executive producers. Geoff Johns and Lucienne Papon are co-producing.

The film’s behind-the-scenes creative team is led by a number of Academy Award® winners, including director of photography Dion Beebe (“Memoirs of a Geisha”), production designer Grant Major (“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”), and costume designer Ngila Dickson (“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”), as well as Oscar®-nominated editor and longtime Campbell collaborator, Stuart Baird (“Gorillas in the Mist,” “Superman”). The film’s visual effects are being overseen by Oscar®-nominee Kent Houston (“The Adventures of Baron Von Munchausen,” “Casino Royale”).

The film is currently scheduled for release in 3D and 2D on June 17, 2011. “Green Lantern” will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Scarlet Spider


Yeah, I like the Scarlet Spider. No, I don't care if you don't.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Atomic Robo v4 3 (of 4)


Volume 4 of Atomic Robo has been less than consistent so far. Issue #1 gave us a kick-ass tale of invading vampires from the fourth dimension, but Issue #2 was little more than a good cure of insomnia. In fact, the second issue of Volume 4 was so bad I almost didn't bother to even pick this one up. And, oh my, am I glad I did! Issue #3 picks up the pieces and gives us another humorous and energetic tale of the hatred between Atomic Robo and Dr. Dinosaur (the conclusion to the Free Comic Book tale some might remember from 2009). The villain's plan (involving crystals, Robo's head in a box, and Betamax) is revealed along with how Doctor Dinosaur got his name. Insanely funny, this one's definitely worth a look.

[Red 5 $3.50]

Friday, May 21, 2010

X-Men Legacy #236 (Second Coming Pt. 8)


No more X-Men die in this issue but all of them do get trapped in a huge red bubble. Bubble of Doom? Death Bubble? Not that remarkable on it's own, but this issue does continue to move the plot of Second Coming along as well as give us a cameo of the new team of Avengers. And any comic that stops to include an argument between Spider-Woman and Thor as to what his hammer really is, well, it's worth a look.

[Marvel $2.99]

Zatanna #1


I like Zatanna. I don't have the same obsession for the character Paul Dini does, but I still believe Zee deserves a spot in the DCU. I'm just not sure this is it. To me, Zatanna has always been an intriguing supporting character. I'd like to see her in the Justice League, or even better Birds of Prey (a perfect spot for her). However, on her own she's taken out of the super-hero world and almost lost in a mystical one. Can she be a female version of Doctor Strange in fishnets (I apologize for that visual)? Maybe, given time, but that's a ways off.

This isn't a bad first issue, but it doesn't really grab you either. The baddie being a mystic gangster sure doesn't do much for me. Dini does give the character strong voice and personality, but the plot surrounding her is basically blah. And for a book that is trying to center itself around a strong female protagonist the panel of Zee magically undressing and shoving her boobs in the reader's face is a bit disconcerting. I'm hoping the second issue is a little better or Zatanna may see at least one reader disappear. Hit-and-Miss.

[DC $2.99]

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Avengers #1


Steve Rogers puts together a new team of Avengers. Not bad for a first issue. We get Kang, Silly Putty from the future (heh), awkward conversations and reunions, and the feel of something new and important starting here. However, the threat of kids from the future is far from the slamdunk opening arc I hoped, and Wonder Man's refusal to join is forced and hamfisted. Gee, I "wonder" if that's going to be an important? Sigh. It may not be all I hoped for, or living up to the promise of the Heroic Age, but it's definitely worth a look.

[Marvel $3.99]

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Sword #24 (Final Issue)


What the hell am I going to read now? Sure, The Astounding Wolf-Man is better than I expected (when it comes out), but the only real reason I've had to look through Image Comics has been the Luna Brothers' The Sword. For two years now former paraplegic Dara Brighton has hunted down the God-like beings who murdered her family, armed with the only thing in existence that can harm them - The Sword. If you've been reading this you've no doubt already picked this issue up, and if you haven't *cough*monkey*cough* go back and start from the beginning! It's worth it.

The last issue ended with a surprising twist, and yet this issue still manages not to get backed into a corner by giving us the unexpected one final time before closing the book on Dara and her adventures. This double-sized final issue isn't the gorrific slashfest a longtime reader of the series might expect. Instead the Luna Brothers take the opportunity to bookend the series by spending far more time on character than carnage. And I'm not complaining, even with the amount of plot dumped into this one issue, thankfully, it never becomes dull. Yeah, it's a must-read. Goodbye Dara, I'm sad to see you go.

[Image $4.99]

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Batman...


..also teaches Trigonometry

Monday, May 17, 2010

Deadpool wants to know...


...how sick did you think he was?

Invictus (Blu-ray)

When Invictus was released last Oscar season my reaction was positive, but mixed. Although I thought it was a well-made film, with strong performances all around, I felt the focus of the film wasn't as clear as I would have liked.

Was this a message film about an important moment in history (the 1995 Rugby World Cup) and it's social and political ramifications, which happened to be a sports film? Was it a film about the relationship between two unlikely friends, one a newly elected President (Morgan Freeman) and the other a Rugby captain (Matt Damon)? Or was it a sports film first, which also incorporated the character study and important message?

At times Invictus is all of these. So although I thought it was a very good film, I wouldn't be one to argue for its spot in the "great" category. Re-watching it on Blu-ray (it hits stands tomorrow) I found many nagging issues I had originally still held, but the presentation here was superior than in the theater. This is the perfect way to watch the film.

The Blu-ray comes with a picture-in-picture commentary from varied perspectives including producers, screenwriter Anthony Peckman, author John Carlin, director Clint Eastwood, many of the actual participants the story is based on, and several of the film's stars - many of whom are South African. This is by far the best extra of the entire set and adds more detail and perspective to the events. Those, like me, who would have preferred a documentary to Eastwood's more theatrical take, get the best of both worlds. It also gives you an option of something else to listen to in the film's final half-hour besides a Rugby match.

Also included are behind-the-scenes features on the making of the film, Morgan Freeman meeting Nelson Mendela, and Matt Damon learning how to play Rugby. 22 minutes of the upcoming "The Eastwood Factor" documentary, looking back at Eastwood's career with Richard Shickle walking around on the Warner Bros. back lot, a trailer, and BD-Live extras are included as well.

Invictus is a worthy rent, especially with the commentary, and, for those who enjoyed the film in theaters more than I, it may be worth considering adding to your collection. A final note: For those looking to invest in Blu-ray, but haven't shelled out the cash for a player yet, this edition also comes with a copy of the regular DVD.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Comic Rack - Titans: Villains For Hire (One-shot)


Green Arrow is a killer, Speedy lost his daughter and got his arm ripped off, Batman is a cave man, and a group of baddies just banded together to knock-off Ryan Choi? I've got to ask: Is Brightest Day meant to be ironic?

Seriously, it took five super-villains to take this guy out (talk about overkill)? Who are they going after next, Ace the Bathound? I was never a fan of how DC went about diversifying their hero population by replacing known (and beloved) heroes with unknowns instead of simply creating new heroes. I never warmed to Choi as the Atom, and even though I really like Jaime Reyes a piece of me will always resent him for not being Ted Kord. All that said, Choi still deserved a better fate than this "heroic" death at the hands of Deathstroke, wishy-washy Black Adam Jr, the ridiculous Tattooed Man, Catman's old squeeze, and some girl on fire.

[DC $4.99]

Friday, May 14, 2010

Robin Hood


Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe come together once again to create a a film about one man's bloody journey to martyrdom. Sound familiar? Fans of Gladiator should like the look of this film, and fans of Braveheart should like the story (at one point Mel Gibson Crowe rouses a reluctant army by talking of liberty and freedom). Fans of the character, however, might have some issues with this new take on Robin Hood.

I'll give Scott credit for trying to do a different type of Robin Hood film. Rather than focus on Robin and the outlaws of Sherwood Forest, the script by Brian Helgeland focuses entirely on the journey of a young archer from the Crusades to enemy of the crown. The entirety of the film (140 minutes) is dedicated to showing how Robin Hood came into being. Of course that means that the film entitled Robin Hood is missing one important ingredient - Robin Hood himself.

There's also the newly crowned King John (Oscar Isaac), complete with the expected inferiority complex, who cares more for pleasures of the flesh and gathering taxes than ruling justly. And we mustn't forget the film's baddie (no, it's not John) the duplicitous Godfrey (Mark Strong) who attempts to use his friendship with the king to weaken the realm and allow an invading French army to take Britain.

Robin Hood feels like a tremendously well-produced television pilot for a show we're never going to get to see. It's only in the last ten minutes of the film that the various strands come together and Robin Hood becomes the outlaw we've been waiting more than two hours to see.

Crowe is well cast as this version of Hood, and Blanchett (no stranger to this type of role) is a nice compliment. Though it's far from the Robin and Marion relationship of legend, as a love story for this style of film it works well enough. I wish I could say the same for Robin's band of merry men who are so interchangeable (with the possible exception of Kevin Durand as Little John) that they are almost completely forgettable.

One script choice I enjoyed was the portrayal of Richard the Lionheart to be be not the unseen savior, as he appears in so many Robin Hood films, but a egomaniacal bastard whose pride led to his own downfall. His death early on also removes any hope of a returning king to put events right before the credits role.

There are also a pair of well-crafted battle scenes, along with numerous skirmishes. There's a fair bit more large scale war than many may be expecting from a film with this title, but it's well done.

Robin Hood isn't a bad movie, but it takes far too long to get where it's going. For a character with such a breadth of history, even with this fresh perspective, the film is actually quite dull at times and does little to add anything of substance. For those looking for substitutes I'd recommend both Gladiator and Braveheart as similar, though far better, films. Or, if you'd like Robin Hood with more flair, may I suggest the recent BBC series, Disney's animated version, the classic Errol Flynn, and the more comic Hood-themed Court Jester with Danny Kaye and Basil Rathbone.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Comic Rack – Siege #4 / Siege: Embedded #4


Asgard falls, The Sentry gets put down, and Norman Osborne's "Dark Reign" comes to an end. Does this final chapter of Siege deliver on the promise of a great ending? Yes and no. There is one last battle to be had and some nice closing moments during the aftermath setting up Marvel's near future. However, issue #4 of both Siege and Siege: Embedded is the weakest of both four-issue mini-series (and Embedded loses point for me by shoving the title of Marvel's next big event into the kind of forced "hey this is important!" comic narration that makes me want to stab someone in the eye).

Neither issue is bad, though each is underwhelming in its own way. The final showdown with The Sentry is rushed and anti-climactic. And the fate of this hero who was shoehorned into the Marvel Universe and now so (relatively) easily kicked to the curb is far from the operatic ending that Marvel kept tell us this "hero" deserved. Seriously, no Marvel character as gotten this kind of schizophrenic treatment since the Scarlet Spider. Did The Sentry's existence mean anything? Anything at all? His entire existence seems to be little more than a practical joke on longtime comic readers by trying to get them to care about a character they "should" care about and getting rid of him when they finally realize we don't.

As for the comic's other "death" can we really care about a villain dying who Marvel just got done telling us can't ever die (see this Siege tie-in in case you missed it)? So...why am I supposed to get worked up over this, again?

The real question to ask is were Dark Reign and Siege a success? Despite the building everything on the laughable premise of the US Government giving Norman Osborne the keys to the kingdom, the answer is yes. What intrigues me most about Marvels' "Heroic Age" isn't so much as what happens to the major characters (though you know some long term issues are going to have to be dealt with). What I'm more interested in is what Marvel has planned for the villains like Moonstone, Daken, (and to a lesser extent The Thunderbolts), who took center stage during the past few months. Are they simply going to fade back into the Marvel Universe or will they find new niches in which to shine? I guess we'll have to wait and see.

[Marvel $3.99 / Marvel $3.99]

Birds of Prey #1


Gail Simone and the Birds of Prey return with a brand spanking new series. Although the issue sets up the first big arc and a threat big enough to get the band back together, it's the little moments I liked best: Oracle thinking about Bruce Wayne's big heart, Black Canary and Huntress trying not to cry, and Dinah's inner-monologue in the comic's opening scene. I'm still a bit unsure about the inclusion of Hawk and Dove, but I'm willing to give them a chance. And where's Misfit? I've already said this about one comic today, but I'll say it again, I missed this book and I'm glad it's back. Definitely worth a look.

[DC $2.99]

Justice League: Generation Lost #1 (of 26)


Keith Giffen writing a Justice League comic? I've got two words: Hell and Yeah! For those unfamiliar with the past of Maxwell Lord the comic does a fair job of giving you a primer without getting bogged down. I'm also happy to see Captain Atom and Fire and Ice getting some comic love again. It also asks, rather than ignore, the obvious question - Why is Maxwell Lord back?

Keith Giffen and Judd Winick have turned Maxwell Lord in Keyser Söze. And you know what? I'm okay with that. Lord uses his super-duper mind powers to make everyone on the planet, except a select few heroes, forget he exists. Giffen gives us a small four-man team who know the truth, but due to some of the original members of the old League being off-planet when he used his mind-whammy, he leaves room to bring back other members of the JLI team including Guy Gardner and Martian Manhunter. And maybe even, dare I say it, G'nort?

I've you were a fan of Giffen's run back in the day (if you weren't I'm going to stop talking to you) you simply have to pick this one up. And if you came to comics afterward, and never read Giffen's take on a super-hero team, I envy you for getting to read it for the first time. Welcome back Justice League. Finally DC has given me a year-long maxi-series (26 issues published every two weeks) that I'm excited to read. Go pick it up already!!!

[DC $2.99]

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Batman...


...just remembered what he had to remember.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Catman...


...is going to make it his business.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Amazing Spider-Man #630


The return of the Lizard, a somewhat shocking reveal as to what side of "The Gauntlet" the Black Cat is really on, and, my favorite moment, Peter Parker goes on a date. Yeah, this one is worth a look.

[Marvel $2.99]

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Batman and Robin #12


This is why Grant Morrison infuriates me. The pieces to a good comic are all here, but the hamfisted delivery of both the clues to Bruce Wayne's legacy and Damian's encounter with Talia, not to mention the completely insane unmasking of Oberon Sexton (him, really?), make me want to punch Morrison right in the face. Twice.

[DC $2.99]

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Red Robin #12


"Collision" concludes with a throwdown between Red Robin and Ra's al Ghul. Tim Drake gets high marks for defeating The Demon's Head, something not a lot of heroes can claim, though it appears Ra's isn't quite done with Mr. Drake quite yet. He's not Bruce Wayne, but Drake has managed to carve out his own niche not only in the Bat-family, but the entire DCU. With lots of Titan cameos, another funny interaction between Batgirl and Damian, and the continued focus on the intellectual side of crime-fighting, Red Robin gives another strong performance. I'm just hoping "The Return of Bruce Wayne" doesn't upset what the book has managed to achieve so far. Worth a look.

[DC $2.99]

Friday, May 7, 2010

Iron Man 2


Six months after revealing himself as Iron Man, Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) has become a national hero. Not everything is all sunny in the life of the world's newest hero, however. As Iron Man 2 opens Stark is facing multiple problems including health issues tied to his use of the arc reactor, a push by the U.S. Senate to get their hands on the Iron Man technology for military use, a competitor (Sam Rockwell) wanting to steal limelight for himself, and the son (Mickey Rourke) of Howard Stark's business partner out for revenge.

That's a lot of plot to squeeze into two-hours, and I haven't even mentioned Pepper Potts' (Gwyneth Paltrow) new role as CEO of Stark Industries, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and S.H.I.E.L.D., James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) and the creation of War Machine, or Stark's new assistant (Scarlett Johansson) who has a few skills not listed on her resume.

Despite having success with the formula for Iron Man, director Jon Favreau makes changes in both tone and pacing from the first film. The sequel has been dipped in cheese and deepfried (including a prolonged scene with a drunk Tony Stark in full armor acting the fool). While the first gave you some dramatic weight to balance its lighter moments, the sequel seems content merely to have fun. Iron Man 2 is also paced within an inch of its life. Favreau goes the George Lucas’ “Faster, more intense!” route here in an attempt to keep the roller coaster from ever stopping. The effect of both these choices, however, is that when the film interjects some genuinely dramatic scenes they don’t have the gravity they should.

That doesn't mean there isn't some fun to be had. Iron Man himself may not be as cool this time around, but War Machine, Whiplash (Rourke), and large army of robot drones help make up the difference. And though not really necessary to the plot, Johansson (thankfully without an accent) is better than I expected as the Black Widow. Throw in a beefier role for Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) plus the final after-credit sequence, which I won’t ruin here, and the Marvel movie universe is starting to take shape.



Although Iron Man 2 stays away from the current slow motion craze it does interject its own form of craptastic camera effects. In what I’ll refer to as crap-motion, several scenes are sped-up in an attempt to trick you eyes into thinking what you are seeing is more impressive than it actually is. The movie does this a handful of times, the most egregious example being Johannson’s big Matrix-like action sequence. Rather than choreograph and shoot scenes that actually work this short-cut misdirection technique attempts to convince you that something cool might have happened, even if you didn’t quite see it. It annoyed me to no end.

Even with the nagging issues I had, Iron Man 2 is a fair bit better than recent Marvel missteps such as Punisher: War Zone and Spider-Man 3 and is the type of fun summer flick that is definitely worth a couple hours of your time. Maybe you’ll even get to see it in stereo-sound (unlike the screening I attended where none of the surround speakers made a peep during the entire film).

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Secret Six #21


That sound you hear is me doing my dance of joy as DC has delivered me another Catman-centric Secret Six issue. YES! Thomas Blake's search for his son leads him to South Africa, and a trail of bodies for his former teammates to follow. Writer Gail Simone's journey of turning Catman from the pathetic punchline of Brad Meltzer (GRRRRR) into one of the most frightening non-super-powered individuals around the DCU (YES!) seems complete. Catman is back, in all his glory, and badder than ever. The speed and skill with which he takes down the super-human Loki (dumping a truck on him and then severing his spine before leaving him to be eaten alive by a pack of lions) is pretty damn impressive, and more than a little gruesome. Must-read!

[DC $2.99]

Uncanny X-Men #524 (Second Coming pt. 6)


The latest issue of Second Coming is merely a pause before the oncoming storm, a time to reflect and bury a friend. Like Aaron, I still mad that Nightcrawler was the a casualty of the current big X-Men event, but this issue does what it can to honor him, as well as put pressure on those "responsible." Definitely worth picking up.

[Marvel $2.99]

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Deadshot...


...has nothing but contempt for pansy asshats.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Nick Fury...


...loves a good massage.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Green Lantern Corps #47


I guess Hal Jordan rubbed off on Arisia more than we thought. This Blackest Night wrap-up is about tying up loose ends and getting the Corps' house back in order (that, and making sure Kyle has the Guardians permission to screw anything wearing a ring). With so many Lanterns now (both old and new) it will be interesting to see how DC juggles them all. I like how they've given Kilowog a new direction and put a little fire back in Arisia. As for the rest of the Corps, I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

[DC $3.99]