Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Battle of the Super-Heroes

After another short intro from the "Secret Files of Batman's Greatest Cases" featuring King Tut and his armies of mummies which ar thwarted by Batman and Robin wearing mummy costumes (coated in buttermilk because "it's the one thing that repels pharoh's rays")... wait, I have to stop for a second because this, yet again, is another opening that is equal parts awesome and insane. Anywho, the real story gets started when Batman shows in Metropolis on the trail of jewel thieves, only to stay around for a few days and hang out with Superman.

There's tons to enjoy here including Lois Lane's obvious disappointment at being saved by Batman instead of Superman, Jimmy Olsen's attempts to trick Superman into revealing his secret identity, and a montage of Batman and Superman team-ups taking down Metallo and the Toyman, taking a trip to Kandor, playing with Krypto, and getting rid of Mr. Mxyzptlk (which is particularily funny for anyone who knows the craziness of Jimmy Olsen's Silver Age comic misadventures).

Things take a dark turn for Superman, and all of Metropolis, when Lois and Jimmy accidently expose the Man of Steel to Red Kryptonite and turn Superman into the biggest dick in the city. And if there's anything that's awesome, it's Superman as a total a-hole. (He even takes time out of destroying large sections of the city, declaring himself King, and shaking Kandor, to put a little girl's cat up in a tree!)

Batman attempts to stop his super-pal with the help of armor that looks more than a little that that from the end of Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns (again, awesome). The fight creates quite a bit of collateral damage, but eventually Batman is able to hold off the crazed Kryptonian until the effects of the Red Kryptonite dissipate. I'm glad to see Batman: The Brave and the Bold return, but also saddened that these will be the last episodes of a show that's really hit its stride.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Batman Incorporated #4

There are two different types of comic writers. The first attempts nothing more than to tell good stories month after month by understanding the characters, the world they inhabit, and working within that framework. The second attempts to deconstruct the existing reality of a hero in an attempt to create a definitive version. Grant Morrison is the later. And that's why he so often pisses me off.

This comic has at least three separate stories going on (actually more, counting the multiple flashbacks of Kathy Kane) and is presented in the twisted half-assed teasing manner Grant Morisson thinks makes great storytelling, but, at least for me comes off as a fanboy who has seen Momento way, way too many times.

The story involves Batwoman, flashbacks to the early (and late) days of the original Batwoman, Batman caught in a death trap, and a villain who is somehow connected to it all. Oblique storytelling isn't terrific in and of itself. If it were Grant Morrison might be the best author of all time.

Like most of Morrison's tales, he gives us only enough of the story to make it harder than necessary to follow before an anti-climactic finale. That's not to say their aren't good moments. The flashbacks of Robin's griping about Batwoman are fun, as are the different art styles focused on the various periods on display.

Had this story been told the way a normal human being might tell it, this might be fairly enjoyable. Sadly, Morisson's reluctance to let the plot stand alone and instead rely on cheap theatrics and convoluted storytelling works against him here. But then again, Grant Morrison really pisses me off. Those who like his increasingly maddening style of writing may find more here than I did. Hit-and-Miss.

[DC, $2.99]

G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero #164

Although I enjoyed G.I. JOE: Cobra, it's been awhile since I've picked up a regular on-going G.I. JOE comic. Seeing both Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow on the latest cover I decided to give this one a look.

Even though I hadn't read much of IDW's current G.I. JOE universe it was easy to pick things up. The Baroness had been captured and Destro and C.O.B.R.A. were using a homing device to locate her inside the JOE's secret base.

We also get a battle between between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow, part of which takes place in mid-air as they're falling from a building. Okay, that's kinda cool. This issue throws in Zartan and the Dreadnoks, which certainly isn't going to hurt my opinion of the book.

In fact in many ways this entire issue feels like it's playing on the nostalga of my youth. The trouble is, with as much fun as there is here to have, the story itself is somewhat empty. Am I glad I read this issue? Yes. Does it make me any more likely to pick up the next one? Not really.

[IDW, $3.99]

Paul W.S. Anderson's Three Musketeers trailer

Old stories don't die, they constantly get remade by Hollywood. In the new version of The Three Musketeers the hot-headed young D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) joins forces with three rogue Musketeers (Matthew Macfadyen, Luke Evans and Ray Stevenson) to stop the evil Richlieu (Christoph Waltz) and the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom). The new version is directed by Paul W.S. Anderson who brings his trademark style and spouse (Milla Jovovich) to the proceedings. Oh, and this one's in 3D. Anyone else feel the need to start drinking? The Three Musketeers explodes into theaters (apparently with woman and ships that can fly?) on October 14th.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Justice League: Generation Lost #22

With only a couple issues remaining things really pick up here. Blue Beetle returns from the dead with information on Maxwell Lord's plan. Batman and Power Girl finally join the team, and Wonder Woman makes an appearance as well.

There's quite a bit shoved into this issue as Max's plan goes into motion and the JLI celebrates the return of Beetle and Batman and tracks down the Amazon princess before Lord can implement his plan of revenge. There's also a somewhat surreal moment as Batman and Wonder Woman meet for the first time, again.

I'm still a little sad we aren't getting a little Guy Gardner thrown in (he certainly could use the break from the Brightest Day nonsense he seems to be trapped in), but I'm happy to see the return of Blue Beetle so quickly. Also, I've got to say just having Batman back with the JLI is pretty damn cool. Worth a look.

[DC, $2.99]

Supergirl #62

With the help of Robin, Miss Martian, and Blue Beetle, Supergirl tries to find out who has it in for the young heroes of the DCU. Her search leads to the ruins of a Cadmus facility and lands her team in some hot water. Let's just say in terms of strategy Supergirl isn't exactly Batman (or even the son of Batman).

As a standalone this issue is fine, but nothing special. The storyline involving the evil shadow group and the killer Facebook app is moved forward, and it's interesting to see writer James Peaty give the character a little grit and chip on her shoulder as well as play on the whole rushing into danger trait her cousin has been known for over the years. It's what you'd expect from a second issue in a story arc, but nothing more.

I was slightly disappointed with the harder Supergirl which takes away from some of the fun of the Girl of Steel/Damian relationship. However, I did enjoy the scene between Kara and Lois Lane which points out not only Supergirl's hubris but and why you shouldn't underestimate her. Worth a look.

[DC, $2.99]

WWE All Stars Hands-On Preview

X-Play's Adam Sessler sits down with THQ Creative Director Sal DiVita to discuss WWE's newest game WWE All Stars which hits stores today. The game includes wrestlers from multiple eras including Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Kofi Kingston, Randy Orton, Andre the Giant, the Ultimate Warrior, Mr. Perfect, Triple H, the Honky Tonk Man, Bret "The Hitman" Hart, Edge, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, and the Macho Man Randy Savage. OH YEEEEAAAAH!

Monday, March 28, 2011

FF #1

Johnny Storm is dead and, for at least now, so is the Fantastic Four. With FF #1 writer Jonathan Hickman launches the remaining members of the team, their extended family, and one Webhead into a new series of adventures.

In this first issue Spider-Man joins the team getting yet another costume change. The new group gets their first action by attempting to stop A.I.M. from breaking the Wizard out of prison. Things do go all that well.

On the plus side there are some nice touches throughout including Spidey's hestitancy and troubling finding his place with the team, the Thing's grief, a comment Reed Richard's father makes over dinner, and a surprise appearance by an old enemy an unlikely new ally for the new team.

I'm not quite sold on the look of costumes (although I do like Sue's explanation for the color scheme) and as first issues go it does a pretty good job of setting the table. I also find it humorous that Marvel went all Dynamite Entertainment with the crazy number of variants for this one.

The sheer number of supporting characters looks a bit much in the longterm for the book but I'm intrigued enough to stick around and find out how things go with the Forward Foundation (or is it First Family?) for at least a couple months.

[Marvel, $3.99]

Cat Run trailer

Paz Vega stars as a high end call girl on the run with evidence of a government cover-up in this new thriller from director John Stockwell (Blue CrushTuristas, Into the Blue, Crazy/Beautiful). Christopher McDonald, Scott Mechlowicz, Tony Curran, Janet McTeer, D.L. Hughley, and Michelle Lombardo also star. Cat Run opens in limited release in select cities on Friday. As you'd expect, the Red Band trailer is NSFW.

Comic Rack 121

It’s a new week so it must be time to talk about comics! Welcome to the RazorFine Comic Rack boys and girls. Pull up a bean bag and take a seat at feet of the master as we offer you this quick list of all kinds of comic book goodness set to hit comic shops and bookstores this week from all your favorite publishers including DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, BOOM!, Dynamite, Image Comics, and others.

This week includes Action Comics, American Vampire, Archie, Captain America, Deadpool Team-Up, Detective Comics, Doctor Who, Green Arrow, Green Hornet: Year One, Halcyon, Incorruptible, Kick-Ass 2, Secret Avengers, Sherlock Holmes: Year One, Star Wars: Legacy - War, Teen Titans, Thor, The Walking Dead, X-23, the first issues of Age of X: Universe, Butcher Baker The Righteous Maker, Cyclops, Undying Love, and the final issues of 5 Ronin, Incognito: Bad Influences, Jack of Fables, JLA/The 99, Punisher: In The Blood, and Suicide Forest.

Enjoy issue #121

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Planet Comicon (2011)

Planet Comicon has come and gone again. Over the past couple of years I've had the privilege of being sung to by Supergirl and leaned Tai Chi from Wilma Deering. This year I spent some time listening to Bionic Woman Lindsay Wagner tell us about a helicopter stunt which almost went very wrong, but the story ends with a great punchline. If you run into her at a convention see if she'll share it with you. Pretty cool.

As promised, I took home more than my share of goodies (including art, graphic novels, comics, and even a figure or three), saw a few friends including Transbuddha's Zolarczakl (who I only seem to run into at at Planet Comicon), as well as introduced two friends to their first ever comic convention.

The costumes were out in force this year (as were the artists). I saw tons of people dressed in some great comic and Star Wars costumes and one of the best, and perhaps the cutest, Ms. Marvel cosplay I've ever seen.

However, the highlight for me was getting to listen to Gail Simone talk about comics, the DCU, Birds of Prey, and The Secret Six. It's eery how similar the creation of Secret Six is to that of Keith Giffen's Justice League. On meeting she happily signed a copy of Secret Six for me and didn't laugh too hard when I thanked her for the awesome rejuvenation of one of my favorite Bat-villains of all-time - Catman. Very cool.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Sucker Punch

Well, the dragon was kinda cool. You know you're watching a Zack Snyder film when twenty minutes in you realize you'd rather be watching a Brett Ratner flick.

There were a myriad of ideas bouncing around my head as the credits began to roll and I tried to wrap my brain around what the hell I just watched, let alone what it was supposed to mean. Coming out of Sucker Punch I felt I was the one who had taken the hit - right in the crotch.

Sucker Punch has been Snyder's pet project since 2007 and it's a pretty strong idictment against directors having total control of a film. It might have been insufferable, but at least Peter Jackson's multi-million dollar masturbatory fantasy had a giant ape who was fun to watch.

Sucker Punch gives us scantily clad young actresses espousing ridiculous dialogue while playing out an even more ridiculous plot. It's impossible to take a film like this seriously, and, for some unknown reason, that's exactly what Snyder wants us to do.

Had the film thoroughly embraced its strengths - the visual style and the absurdity of every single frame - Sucker Punch may have delivered at least on a visceral level. Sadly, the writer/director overburdens the film with a heavy-handed (and conflicted) message about angels, destiny, and the power of female sexuality (none of which is adequately thought out). He also relies far too heavily on slow motion, music video pacing, and montage to tell most of the story. Sucker Punch might have more montage per minute than any film released in theaters since Rocky IV.

The film's biggest, but far from only, flaw is that takes itself way too seriously. This is a movie where a girl dressed up like Sailer Moon shoots Nazi cyborgs in the face and stabs a dragon through the head with a samurai sword. Why would anyone want to weigh it down what should be a relatively carefree braindead fan-friendly thrill ride with sequences about rape and pedophilia and an overall message of hopelessness?


Yes, I said pedophilia and rape. Along with these themes the film also explores idea of forced prostitution. That's right, it's fun for the whole family! Well, "explores' might be too strong a word. Sucker Punch introduces these various plot threads only to throw them away at the earliest sign of a CGI-heavy action sequence. This is the kind of film which makes you want to take a shower afterwards.

What the film lacks in originality it makes up for homages to more video games and movies than I could possibly name here. Trying too hard to look and be cool by borrowing themes, sounds, and visuals from countless video games, movies, and pop culture. Sucker Punch will remind you of everything from Steam Punk style to Kill Bill mixed with Showgirls by way of the Moulin Rouge music video. You could spend the entire film doing nothing more than counting off the references.

The film opens with a video montage involving death of a parent, manslaughter, and multiple attempts at the rape of children - all set to "Killing Me Softly." This is followed by a sequence taken directly from the beginning of Batman: Arkham Asylum. Not surprisingly, in the couple of years since his last live-action feature film Zack Snyder hasn't learned subtlety.

Our protaganist (I'll refrain from calling her the film's heroine) is put into a mental institution by her evil stepfather (Gerard Plunkett) who pays off an orderly (Oscar Isaac) to make sure she'll be lobotomized before the week is out. As to how an orderly would be able to do this... well, don't try to make sense of the plot. Snyder sure didn't, why should you?

Unsure of her new surroundings Baby Doll (Emily Browning, who also sings the opening number) begins a multi-layer fantasy (think Inception, done by a junior high drama/fetish club) where she recreates her surroundings into a brothel and the inmates (Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung) into fellow strippers and whores. Together they begin to plan an escape the brothel, or institution, or whatever.

The second level of her fantasy puts the inmates and workers of the asylum into fantastical action sequences where Baby Doll's escape plan is recreated in battles with larger-than-life constructs like dragons and giant samurai warriors with rocket launchers and chain guns. Sadly, this is far less cool than it sounds. It also doesn't help that Baby Doll's sketchy plan for escape by capturing things like "fire" sounds like it was thought up by a mental patient.

We are told (though never shown) that in the first layer of her fantasy Baby Doll has the ability to mesmerize her audience with her incredible raw sexuality. While dancing she is so captivating that can act as a distraction for her friends to steal what they need to escape. What the audience sees, however, is a scared girl swaying vaguely to music with a far off look in her eyes as the character imagines the next layer of her fantasy. This disconnect between what the audience sees and what the characters supposedly see becomes more laughable each time it's used.

It doesn't take a genius to see all the actresses on display were chosen for their looks, not acting ability. Most come off foolish when struggling with the insipid dialogue provided while attempting to come off as both tough and sexy at the same time. Poor Carlo Gugino is saddled with such a ridiculous look and accent I kept looking for Boris Badenov every time she opened her mouth. And when the team hits the field for their sexy military squad maneuvers I dare you not to laugh out loud. Despite dressing each character in a way to hit as many fetishes as possible (Sailor Moon, fishnets, lingere, tight leather busty soldier costumes, etc.) the film isn't titillating. Oh, the film is dripping with sex to be sure, but not a single moment of it is actually sexy.

And for all its apparent self glorification of sex and female empowerment the film's message is actually the exact opposite of what you would expect. The girls don't use their sexuality to get what they want. They're forced into using it to survive. Sex isn't a weapon for them. Instead it's a chain by which they're controlled. These girls aren't empowered; they're victims.

Even Baby Doll can only contemplate an escape when she's given the blueprint by a man (Scott Glenn). These girls don't seize their chance at freedom as much as they submissively allow themselves to be led down a dangerous path by a girl who, for all they know, is crazier than the rest of them combined.

Compared to the writing the look of the film is far and away its strength, but even here there are issues. There are several well done shots and moments throughout the film. Although none are all that memorable, some are fun. One of the best of these is a train hijacking sequence (which it appears was lifted completely from Firefly's second episode "The Train Job"). It also doesn't help that every time I was getting into an action sequence Snyder pulled back to provide his trademark overdose of slow motion. The worst of these moments involves a shell shooting out of a gun and slowly passing across the screen for several seconds.

Sucker Punch is a mess, even for a throwaway action flick starring attractive young women, and this is coming from a guy who owns copies of Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li and DOA: Dead or Alive. Browning's character, on whom the entire plot relies, goes through all but a couple of the film's most pivotal scenes with all the emotion and sex appeal of a department store mannequin, and her attractive co-stars are wasted in mostly thankless, and ultimately forgettable, roles.

Zack Snyder's masturbatory fantasy gives us far too much information on what's going on in his head and far too few moments of actual fun. Don't be a sucker, let this one punch itself into obscurity with as little help as possible.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Full-Length Trailer for Captain America: The First Avenger

Yeah, I'll watch this movie. No more tease, Marvel Studios has released the first full-length trailer for this summer's Captain America: The First Avenger starring Chris Evans (as Cap), Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci, Hayley Atwell, Neal McDonough, Toby Jones, and Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull. Captain America: The First Avenger hits theaters July 22nd. I think this might be a hellova lot of fun.

Reason #12 Why I Love DS9 - Garak

There are many reasons why I love Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and why it remains my favorite of the Star Trek franchise.

Reason #12: Garak

Cars 2 Agents on a Mission tour comes to Kansas City

Any fans of Pixar Cars who happen to be around Kansas City should make their way down to Crown Center today when the "Agents on a Mission" tour sponsored by State Farm Insurance hits downtown KC - complete with life-size remote control models of Lightning McQueen, Mater and new character Finn McMissile. If you're not in KC don't worry, the tour will run through June, hitting cities throughout North America and racing through the red-carpet premiere in Los Angeles before wrapping up in San Francisco and Sonoma, CA. More pics and info after the jump.


Star Racecar Lightning McQueen, Lovable Tow Truck Mater and
Master British Spy Finn McMissile Race Across North America to Celebrate
Disney•Pixar’s Big-Screen Adventure “Cars 2”

WHAT - Presented by State Farm, the “Agents on a Mission” tour hits the road with Disney•Pixar’s “Cars 2” this spring when four-time Piston Cup champion Lightning McQueen and best friend Mater join master British spy Finn McMissile—life-size remote-controlled models that race around, light up and rev for fans.

ACTIVITIES – State Farm brings Disney•Pixar’s “Cars 2” adventure directly to fans with the “Agents on a Mission” tour. Visitors can check out the cars and take part in a variety of “Cars 2”-themed activities, including a video kiosk, e-photo opportunities, games and giveaways. They can also enter the “Agents on a Mission” sweepstakes, which features 18,000 prizes, including a new car.

ABOUT THE MOVIE - Star racecar Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) and the incomparable tow truck Mater (voice of Larry the Cable Guy) take their friendship to exciting new places in Disney•Pixar’s “Cars 2” when they head overseas to compete in the first-ever World Grand Prix. But the road to the championship is filled with surprises when Mater gets caught up in an intriguing adventure of his own: international espionage. Mater finds himself torn between assisting Lightning McQueen in the high-profile race and towing the line in a top-secret mission orchestrated by master British super spy Finn McMissile (voice of Michael Caine). Directed by John Lasseter and produced by Denise Ream, the fast-paced fun includes a colorful new all-car cast, complete with menacing villains and international racing competitors. Presented in Disney Digital 3D™ and IMAX® 3D in select theaters, Disney•Pixar’s “Cars 2” hits the track on June 24, 2011.

ABOUT The TOUR - The tour will run through June, hitting cities throughout North America and racing through the red-carpet premiere in Los Angeles, and wrapping up in San Francisco and Sonoma. For more information about the movie, the tour and a list of cities, check out

FOR MORE INFORMATION - For more information about the movie, visit, like us on Facebook:, and follow us on Twitter: For more information about State Farm and the “Agents on a Mission” promotion, like State Farm on Facebook: or follow State Farm on Twitter:


SIZE MATTERS – The replica cars are the largest production radio-controlled replica cars ever built.
• At 1000 foot pounds of torque – the electric motors provide enough power to theoretically climb a telephone pole!
• Finn weighs in around 1,760 lbs.
• Lightning McQueen weighs in around 2,250 lbs.
• Mater weighs in at just over 2,700 lbs.

ART IN MOTION -- Because of the unique scale of these vehicles, all the exterior pieces had to be fabricated from scratch. No actual “off- the-shelf” car parts could be used. The sculpting process for each vehicle’s body took 6-10 days, totaling 1000-1600 man hours. After the cars were carved in foam, a fiberglass mold was created, and from that the final bodies were produced.
• The chassis for the cars are Model-T replica frames.
• Mater is hand-painted, using a proprietary system that creates real rust on his cab and bed.
• Because the cars had to reflect the designs of the film’s characters, the control systems (switches, lights etc.) had to be built into the various parts of the car. These have been hidden from view.

FILL ‘ER UP -- The cars are all electric powered. Each runs on four automotive-style batteries at 48 volts and can run for 30 minutes at full speed.

NO SPEEDING ZONE -- The cars can travel up to 10 miles per hour.

REV IT UP -- The engine sounds and exhaust sounds are recreated through a 200-watt sound system under the hood.
• The cars are controlled by a high-tech radio-control system normally used for high-end RC hobby cars.

TRICKY TIRES – Lightning McQueen’s tires are one of a kind due to their unique size and were fabricated by Goodyear specifically for the “Agents on a Mission” tour.
• Lightning McQueen is so low to the ground that he needs specially designed ramps to get over even the smallest bumps.

YOU’VE GOT THE LOOK -- There are three sets of eyes that are held to the windshield by magnets. The fiberglass windshield is imbedded with iron filings which attracts the magnetic eyes.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Deadpool... is going to kill you in the face going to kill you in the face.

The Spirit #12

Crimelord Shonder Sheev has decided to move into Central City, but first he needs Commissioner Dolan and the Octopus taken out of the picture. He's sent his best assassin, The Professor, to deal with Dolan through a small trinket he offers to the commissioner's daughter, and a few thugs with a rocket launcher to take out the Octopus.

His plans are foiled when he fails to account for two things: 1) The Spirit, and 2) the chance that one of the deadliest assassins in the world would have a soft spot for a beautiful woman such as Ellen Dolan. It seems even a tinkerer madman has a heart.

Fans of old Silver Age Superman stories featuring the Toyman should feel right at home with this one as the weapon aimed at Dolan is a minature clockwork Spirit doll that comes dangerously close to fulfilling its task. A little odd? Sure, but a lot of fun, and its nice to see Ellen play the heroine for a change saving her father and the Spirit with one shot. Worth a look.

[DC, $2.99]

Red Sonja: Revenge of the Gods #1

Some characters are hit-and-miss. Red Sonja is one of the characters who has more than her fair share of misses, but every once and awhile will surprise you with a strong story. I'm not sure that this is that story, but it better than some comics featuring the fantasy heroine that I've read.

Revenge of the Gods picks up where Red Sonja's last mini-series Wrath of the Gods ended. Loki has been defeated by the She-Devil with a Sword and is now banished to the harsh reality of Earth, but that doesn't mean the god is going to take his fate lying down. With the help of a band of marauders and cut-throats he begins to plan his revenge and return to power by setting his sights on the kingdom of Vannaheim not realizing the city holds a dark secret that if unleashed could destroy everyone in the land.

It's not a great read, and I'm not thrilled with the art of Daniel Sampere, but fans of the character should enjoy themselves. And, despite being tied to an earlier adventure, there's little here a casual reader should need to follow the tale. Hit-and-Miss.

[Dynamite, $3.99]

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Darkwing Duck #10

If you thought magic dinosaurs were going to be the coolest thing you read in comics this week you were wrong. The latest Darkwing Duck shoves so much awesome into one issue I'm surprised it doesn't explode.

After evading an army of Eggmen by using every secret device built into the flying spy-car (including one which disguises them as the llama from The Emperor's New Groove), Darkwing Duck and Steelbeak break into the secret headquarters of F.O.W.L. (only to be followed shortly Gossalyn and Honker).

In the belly of the beast, so to speak, our heroes run into all kinds of obstacles including, but not limited to, the following: guillotine blades, alligator briefcases (briefcases with actual alligators inside), secret bookcases, Ammonia Pine, and a giant robotic walrus.

We are also introduced to another of F.O.W.L.'s top agents, the foxy (pun-intended) Femme Appeal, and we get our first look at what might happen if F.O.W.L.'s plan to unleash Duckthulu comes to fruition.

Issue #10 is filled with cover-to-cover action, great humor, and some terrific visuals. Definite Must-Read.

[BOOM, $3.99]

Power Girl #22

In this issue Power Girl and Superman team-up to fight magic dinsosaurs running loose in the streets of New York City. Let me say that again - Power Girl and Superman vs. Magic Dinosaurs! What more could you possibly need to know?

The B-story for part one of "Up, Up & Away" centers around Power Girl's alter-ego getting her company back. The timeline for this seems a bit off as it seems to be jumping ahead a couple of months after the events of Justice League: Generation Lost have been wrapped up. This, as you might expect, is somewhat problematic. However, I did like the scenes involving Superman talking to Kara about the problems with making her secret identity into a public figure and the possible ramifications if someone recognizes Karen Starr, CEO as Power Girl.

We also get a cameo from Zatanna, with the promise of more of her and Batman in the next issue as well. Sounds good to me. Oh, and did I mention this one has magic freakin' dinosaurs?! Worth a look.

[DC, $2.99]

The Next Three Days

How far would you go for the person you love? That's the central question at the heart of writer/director Paul Haggis' dramatic thriller The Next Three Days.

After his wife (Elizabeth Banks) is incarcerated for a murder she didn't commit, and every legal option is exhausted, John Brennan (Russell Crowe) decides to take the only choice left. He begins planning to break his wife out of prison and flee the country with their young son (Ty Simpkins).

Haggis delivers a compelling thriller filled with hard choices as John finds himself going further and further down the rabbit hole. The film is scattered with an assortment of strong supporting roles (Olivia Wilde, Jason Beghe, Liam NeesonAisha Hinds, Brian Dennehy), but the weight of the story falls entirely on Crowe's shoulders and, not surprisingly, he delivers.

The Blu-ray and DVD come with the usual assortment of extras including extended and deleted scenes and short featurettes on the making of the film. Unless you simply want to see it again there's nothing extra here to cause you to return to the film unless, like me, you missed it in theaters. That said, I was surprised how much I enjoyed The Next Three Days, and it is worth a first, or second, look on DVD.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Larry Crowne trailer

Larry Crowne marks the first time since 1998's That Thing You Do! that Tom Hanks has directed himself (or anyone else) in a feature film. Hanks stars as Larry Crowne, a middle-aged man who goes back to college after losing his job and soon falls for his professor (Julia Roberts). Taraji P. Henson, Bryan Cranston, Cedric the Entertainer, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw also star. The film opens in theaters on July 1st.

Cinderella: Fables are Forever #2

"Fables are Forever" continues as Cinderella deals with the possibility that Dorothy Gale, her longtime nemesis and the greatest assassin of the Fables universe, appears to be back from the dead and back to her old tricks.

I really enjoyed the structure of this comic. The current storyline of protecting Ivan Durak is the least interesting of what is covered here, but the comic is filled with multiple flashbacks involving Cinderella's previous encounters with Dorothy in the Soviet Union and Thailand which give us a better understanding about both women without giving too much away too soon.

I've also got to compliment Shawn McManus' art which fits the story by perfectly capturing the different locales and time periods the story covers. I particularly like the artist's closeups on the characters capturing various expressions over the course of the issue. Worth a look.

[Vertigo, $2.99]

Comic Rack

It’s a new week so it must be time to talk about comics! Welcome to the RazorFine Comic Rack boys and girls. Pull up a bean bag and take a seat at feet of the master as we offer you this quick list of all kinds of comic book goodness set to hit comic shops and bookstores this week from all your favorite publishers including DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, BOOM!, Dynamite, Image Comics, and others.

This week includes Angel, Batman: The Dark Knight, Creepy, Daredevil Reborn, Deadpool MAX, Dracula: The Company of Monsters, Echoes, Fables, Futurama Comics, G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero, Green Hornet, Green Lantern, Hellblazer, Hulk, Invincible, Justice League: Generation Lost, Marineman, Marvel Adventures Spider-Man, Mass Effect: Evolution, Osborn, Queen Sonja, Silver Surfer, Spawn, Supergirl, Thor, the first issues of Bartoc, Captain America Comics, FF, Hellraiser, Transformers: Heart of Darkness, Uncanny X-Force, Witchblade, X-Men, and the final issues of Batman: Streets of Gotham, Ghostbusters: Infestation, Meta 4, and Ultimate Comics Doom.

Enjoy issue #120

Friday, March 18, 2011


Simon Pegg and Nick Frost reunited? And this time the pair are directed by Adventureland's Greg Mottola? Sounds promising, doesn't it? Almost too good to be true? Guess what? It is.

Those hoping for something rivaling the comic brilliance of Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz are bound to be disappointed, but Paul does supply plenty of laughs (and a fair amount of groans as well).

After basking in the nerdom of Comic-Con, Graeme (Pegg) and Clive (Frost) hit the road on a UFO tour of the United States. On the way, as happens only in movies like this, they serendipitously run into the real thing. Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen) has been living in a government facility for decades since he crash landed on Earth. Now he's escaped, and he's enlisted these two nerds to get him home.

Along the way the pair will run into a bible-thumping trailer park manager (John Carroll Lynch) and his one-eyed daugher (Kristen Wiig) and have to stay one-step ahead of the government agents (Jason Bateman, Bill Hader, Joe Lo Truglio) hot on their trail.

One thing Paul has going for it (and perhaps relies on too much) is a love of sci-fi films. There are several nods sci-fi nerds will recognize and appreciate scattered throughout the film's 104-minute running time (and one special phoned-in cameo which I won't spoil here). Along with these clever moments come a plethora of cheap jokes and gags, some of which made me chuckle and some of which made me shake my head at the kind of lazy writing usual reserved for late night television and ABC sitcoms.

What's a little maddening is I can't tell you what I enjoyed about the film without giving away too much of the plot or ruining gags from the film. Rest assured, there are moments worth savoring here. I just wish there were more of them.

Paul is a mixed success targeted at a select audience (if you're out of college and have action figures prominently displayed on your shelf this one's for you). Those who enjoy nerdy fan-driven films such as Fanboys should feel right at home. Will it make you laugh? Yes. Will it make you groan? Definitely.

In the end I'm glad I saw Paul. Even with its flaws it's still an enjoyable, if slightly frustrating, time at the movies. Keep your expectations low, try not to compare this to Pegg and Frost's earlier collaborations, and you should be fine. Oh, and may the Force be with you...always.

The Music Never Stopped

What is it about music? It can inspire, deeply move and remind us of times long since past. It's that final piece which is the heart of The Music Never Stopped. We tie memories to sights, smells, and sounds. A familiar song can produce a rush of forgotten emotion tied to a specific moment from our past.

J.K. Simmons and Cara Seymour star as parents who haven't heard from their son in nearly twenty years. One day the phone rings and they find Gabriel (Lou Taylor Pucci) in the hospital struggling with the effects of a brain tumor which has left his mind fractured. The memories Gabriel retains are limited and inaccessable, and his illness has created an inability for him to form new permanent memories.

After doing some research Henry (Simmons) enlists the help of a therapist (Julia Ormond) and together they begin to reach Gabriel through the music of his era - the same music which created the rift between father and son years before. When a song he recognizes plays his memory returns, albeit briefly.

Based on a case study by Oliver Sacks, as adapted by Gwyn Lurie and Gary Marks, The Music Never Stopped, is more than a little schmaltzy and designed to tug at the heartstrings in all the usual ways. The film also presents few surprises. We know every note to this song long before the last chord is played.

Even with these limitations, the script does provide sequences for the actors to shine, J.K. Simmons especially. I'll also give credit to the screenwriters for not allowing Henry's character to be pigeon-holed. He's hardheaded and makes plenty of mistakes, but there are reasons for his actions (both good and bad) that help us understand his point of view in contrast to that of his son. In the end Henry isn't the bad guy, and neither is his son.

The title of the film comes from The Grateful Dead, who, along with Bob Dylan, the Beatles, and other musicians from the era are the key to unlocking Gabriel's memories (at least until the song ends). The film fits nicely into the warm family films that celebrate music and its ability to uplift the human spirit. It's not quite as strong as August Rush, but it has a similar feel and message.

You're getting no more or no less than you'd expect from a movie like The Movie Never Stopped, but I was glad to see Simmons get a chance to help carry a film rather than simply move around the edges of the main story in a supporting role. This is the type of film my mother would love, and plenty of others will as well. It's a little too by the numbers for my taste but it's still worth a look for those enjoy this type of storytelling.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Awesome Characters - Sarah Walker

" I'm just a needy love-crazed girl on a husband hunt - who's trained in over 200 ways to kill you."

There are characters we fall in love with. The perfect mix of actor and writer that breathes magic onto the screen or inside the television.

She was chosen by the CIA to protect him, but despite her best attempts she couldn't help falling in love.

Agent Sarah Walker (not her real name) has lived a life of aliases since her childhood. After her con man of a father (Gary Cole) was put away Sarah went to work for the United States Government.

Here's what we do know:

Her real first name is Sam and her real middle name is Lisa, but, like so much of Sarah's past, her real last name remains a mystery.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

On Stranger Tides Revealed

The folks in charge of the upcoming forth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise have put out a podcast featuring Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and clips of the upcoming film. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides hits theaters and IMAX on May 20th.

New Avengers #10

There are two stories going on here. The first is the current squad of New Avengers fighting Superia and her squad of former H.A.M.M.E.R. troops. One Avenger is already down and the team has their hands full with villains they were just joking about last issue.

The second takes place years before and follows Nick Fury on his mission to recruit the very first team of Avengers consisting of Silver Sable, Sabertooh, Kraven, Namora, Ulysses Bloodstone, Dominic Fortune, and Dum Dum Doogan. Aside from historical clusterfuck this presents with this team being the Avengers before the Avengers (and thus tying the Star Trek franchise for the worst idea of another Enterprise being the best ship in Starfleet decades before the original Star Trek), it's a pretty good tale. Oh, and did I mention I hate that they're called the Avengers?

Even if I do have issues with the flashback storyline it's by far the more intriguing of the two. (Sorry if I can't get choked up on the apparently imminent death of a C-List West Avengers character Marvel kills and brings back whenever it fits their whimsy.)

Fury's recruitment of the team will no doubt remind people of The Magnificent Seven (or younger viewers with Ocean's Eleven). There's actually story here, where the other plot line is basically one fun joke with Luke Cage (that's really just the same joke from last issue) and one big battle against a no-doubt dangerous, but relatively laughable, foe. (Superia? And H.A.M.M.E.R.? Really? Were Flag-Smasher and A.I.M. too busy to make an appearance here?)

More than a little hit-and-miss, but still worth a look.

[Marvel, $3.99]

Batgirl #19

After last month's magical romp with Klarion the Witch Boy (that sounded way dirtier than I meant it to), Batgirl returns to the streets to track down the speedster thief (Slipstream), try and lose her biggest fan (The Grey Ghost), and get used to the improved digs (thanks to a generious contribution by the Wayne Foundation).

We also get more of Stephanie's unsuccessful juggling of her school life, home life, and nighttime activities, as well as a couple of great panels (like this one) showcasing the humor of the character.

On the negative, I'm not sure the reveal of Slipstream's big plan makes more sense than simply emptying the various bank vaults he's hit. That said, I'm still willing to wait and see how things play out. I also thought the Barbara/Proxy showdown (i.e. here's your lesson kiddos) was a tad forced for my tastes.

Even with these minor quibbles Batgirl continues to deliver yet another good story. Worth a look.

[DC $2.99]

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Red State

I've been saying for years I wanted to see Kevin Smith try something different. With Red State, the writer/director attempts to create a horror film based loosely on the Westboro Baptist Church. It's a departure of sorts (Smith still finds a way to slide in his usual assortment of dick jokes), and even if its not entirely successful, Red State does have its moments.

The film centers around the fictional Five Points Church led by the charismatic Reverend Abin Cooper (based on Fred Phelps and played by Michael Parks). No longer content to just protest at funerals of homosexuals, Cooper and his brethren have begun entrapping and executing those who they see as a blight on their community.

In true teen sex comedy fasion Red State begins with the lustful dreams of three teens (Michael AngaranoKyle GallnerNicholas Braun), but, after more than a few twists and turns, ends with a shoot-out between the ATF and the Five Points Church.

The story is a bit muddled, inconsistent, and in need of some serious rewrites and editing. Even with these obvious flaws there is some definite filmmaking going on here. Smith, for arguably the first time ever in his twenty years in the business, steps outside his comfort zone. The look of the film (shot by cinematographer David Klein) is far more dynamic than anything the director has done. Except for its opening and ending sequences, Red State neither looks nor feels like a Kevin Smith film.

The performances are strong across the board including Parks, Kerry Bishé and recent Oscar winner Melissa Leo as the major figures in the Cooper clan. The film doesn't really begin in earnest until Parks takes center stage delivering a sermon to his flock. John Goodman has some nice moments as well as the ATF agent-in-charge in the field to take down the church.

The film has a grittiness and natural look which helps sell the tale as much as the strong performances. Red State also provides some truly disturbing moments including the Church preparation and sacrifice of those they view as the enemies of God.

There's a good story at the heart of Red State, and strong performances all around. It's also true that the film feels like Smith may have stepped a little too far out of his comfort zone into a world he isn't familiar with. The internal ATF discussions feel forced (and more than a little boneheaded given the events in Waco) but the film does provide some unseen twists that will keep audiences on their toes.

It's not his best film nor, despite his recent comments, his most grown-up movie, but it's far from his worst. Red State is a mixed success which (hopefully) marks the broadening of Smith not only as a writer and director but filmmaker as well.

Chuck Vs. The A-Team

This episode returns Isaiah Mustafa and Stacy Keibler, catches us up on what Agent Casey (Adam Baldwin) has been doing in the new offices of Castle, and finds Chuck (Zachary Levi) and Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) replaced after they as the bumped in favor of a new "A-Team."

The idea for the episode is a good one (although I'm glad both Gretas won't be returning in this incarnation), and there are plenty of fun moments (my favorite involves Chuck and Sarah blindsiding an unsuspecting Morgan), but the episode introduces several implications about the NSA, the Intersect, Orion's laptop, and Casey's boss (Robin Givens), which I'm not sure I'm going to like seeing played out. Still, a strong episode all around.

Bat-Family Movie Night

Monday, March 14, 2011

Morning Glories: For a Better Future

A new group of six students, the best and the brightest, make their way to Morning Glories, one of the most prestigious prep schools in the country. They soon find themselves tested, tortured, and locked inside a facility far more insidious than the brochures would have you believe.

Writer Nick Spencer's tale has been compared to everything from Lost to The Prisoner. For me, if feels much more like a modern teenage take on the later (and thankfully lacks the all the flashbacks of the former). What Spencer and artist Joe Eisma do give us is a tale of dark secrets which aren't going to be revealed easily about an organization that will do whatever it takes to fulfill its mysterious goals.

Volume One collects the first six-issue mini-series of the now on-going Image Comics title. The story centers around six new students: Casey (the most promising), Ike (the sociopath), Hunter (the nerd), Zoe (the bitch), Jun (the tough silent type), and Jade (the emo chick).

Morning Glories only accepts the best students in the world. They also all have the same birthday: the fourth of May. The first six issues focuses on the students adapting to their new home, and trying to survive and escape. At only $10 the trade paperback is a real bargain (all six issues individually who put you back $21). Definitely worth a look.

[Image, $9.99]

New Conan gets his first teaser trailer

No stranger to remakes (he did both Friday the 13th and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) director Marcus Nispel reboots Conan: The Barbarian this summer with Stargate: Atlantis star Jason Momoa stepping in for Arnold Schwarzenegger. Ron Perlman, Rachel Nichols, and Rose McGowan also star. Stephen Lang plays the warlord who massacred the barbarian's tribe. This new Conan hits theaters everywhere August 19th.

Comic Rack

It’s a new week so it must be time to talk about comics! Welcome to the RazorFine Comic Rack boys and girls. Pull up a bean bag and take a seat at feet of the master as we offer you this quick list of all kinds of comic book goodness set to hit comic shops and bookstores this week from all your favorite publishers including DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, BOOM!, Dynamite, Archie, Image Comics, and others.

This week includes Amazing Spider-Man, Artifacts, Bad Dog, Batman, Darkwing Duck, Generation Hope, Hack/Slash, Iceman and Angel, Invincible Iron Man, Jughead, Northlanders, Power Girl, Red Robin, Soldier Zero, Spike, The Spirit, Vampirella, Young Justice, the first issues of Avengers: The Children's Crusade - Young Avengers, Ghostbusters: Displaced Aggression, Fear Itself: The Book of the Skull, The Guild: Tink, The Lone Ranger/Zorro: The Death Of Zorro, Phoenix, Ruse, Xombi, and the final issues of G.I. JOE: Infestation, Knight & Squire, and Loki.

Enjoy issue #119

Friday, March 11, 2011

Battle: Los Angeles

It's a good thing I wasn't expecting much going into this movie because it offers the bare minimum for a uber-patriotic action flick without supplying a single original idea, moment, or story element.

Battle: Los Angeles is little more than an excuse to cash in on critical and box office successes such as District 9 and Avatar. And you don't have to look very hard to see where it "borrowed" most of its plot. Think of it as Independence Day meets Cloverfield meets a Marine recruitment film (with slightly better special effects).

The film opens by introducing us to all the major players of the unit who will be thrust into battle during an alien invasion of Los Angeles. Staff Sgt. Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) is the war-weary veteran with one foot out the door, Ramon Rodriguez is the fresh-faced Lieutenant straight out of the academy, Noel Fisher is the goofy wet-behind-the-ears Private, and so on. If you think these characters sound familiar, you're right.

Aside from the short sequences where they are introduced each of the characters, other than Eckhart, is interchangeable (and pretty damn forgettable). Even before the battle begins you'll know who will survive and who won't make it home. Along the way the unit will also pick up some scared civilians (Michael Peña, Bridget Moynahan, Bryce Cass) and a sassy hot-shot pilot (Michelle Rodriguez) ready to do her part to save the world.

Not content to let the movie play out what should be a suspenseful end-of-the-world battle to fight off an alien invasion, screenwriter Christopher Bertolini hamfistedly inserts contrived situations in an attempt to add tension where it isn't needed (and doesn't particularly work well). The script give Eckhart's character a checkered past and puts him in a new unit which doesn't trust him, with a commander with no battlefield experience, and which includes the brother (Cory Hardrict) of an officer who died under Nance's last command. Yeah, I've seen Kate Hudson movies that weren't this contrived.

The action scenes work well-enough, and there's plenty to be had. Those who don't like shaky cam might wish to stay away (you'll get a steady diet of it here), and the film's strength is it does drop you into the middle of the action with this small group of soldiers fighting for their lives.

The CGI effects are competently done as well, even if it's hard sometimes to distinguish between the aliens and their machines. But, as with some of the action sequences, there seems to be something missing. Maybe it's because we've seen this done before, many times, and almost always better. The film is also as strong a pro-military propaganda film as anything I've seen since Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor. Had these Marines started pissing lighting and crapping thunder I wouldn't have been surprised. But then again, nothing about this movie surprised me.

Battle: Los Angeles isn't an awful film. It just feels flat, like everyone involved is simply going through the motions. It's a live-action video game with some truly awful dialogue thrown in to give the actors more to do than fire their guns and determinedly stare into the camera as they march their way through the predictable elements of the story while fighting for truth, justice, and the American way. Are we sure Michael Bay wasn't involved with the making of this film?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Reason #65 Why I Love DS9 - Kukalaka

There are many reasons why I love Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and why it remains my favorite of the Star Trek franchise.

Reason #65: Kukalaka

Doctor Julian Bashir's first patient was Kukalaka. As a child Bashir restuffed and stitched his teddy bear back together performing his first surgery at the age of five. And he's been mending his friend ever since.

Kukalaka is refered to in a handful of episodes including "In the Cards" when Bashir enlists the help of Jake Sisko and Nog to recover his childhood friend from Lita (who refused to give him back after the pair's relationship ended) and, if you're quick, you can catch a glimpses of him in Bashir's quarters in "The Quickening" and "Inquisition."


...pick a fight with an Amazon.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

White Collar – Under the Radar

Since it's beginning White Collar has delivered strong cliffhangers at every mid-season and season finale. The final episode of Season Two is no exception. True, it might not be as memorable as Peter Burke (Tim DeKay) confronting Kate (Alexandra Daddario), the plane explosion, or Mozzie (Willie Garson) getting shot, but the ramifications of Burke and Neal Caffery's (Matthew Bomer) blow-up (along with that final moment in the warehouse) look like they could play out for quite awhile.

"Under the Radar" finally puts Neal in front of the man (Andrew McCarthy) responsible for Kate's death and reveals what he's been looking for all this time. It also includes two returning guest-star love interests for Neal in the old friend gone missing (Gloria Votsis) and, perhaps, the next woman in Neal's life (Hilarie Burton).

Season Two goes out with a bang and adds some tension back to the Neal/Peter relationship going into the summer when the show returns for a third season. I have my suspicions at how the final moments of Season Two actually played out, but I guess we'll have to wait a few months to find out for sure how the Nazi treasure ended up in Neal's hands. If the first two seasons are any indication, it should be quite a ride.

5 Ronin #1

Conceived by Marvel Comics as an attempt to re-imagine five X-Men characters as ronin in fuedal Japan this first issue has an interesting set-up, but it's a little light on delivery.

Issue #1 gives us the tale of the ronin who can't die (who also looks suspiciously like Wolverine underneath those samuari robes) seeking first understanding to a bizare series of events (much like the reader) surrounding the death of a lookalike and then revenge for the murder of his lord. The following issues will each re-imagine another X-Men character (Pyslocke, Punisher, Hulk and Deadpool), each after some form of vengeance for a past wrong.

More of a curiosity than anything else, this first issue is really nothing more than a mediocre What If...? story. It's not bad, the tale simply doesn't engage the reader and there's nothing here to make someone like me come back for four straight weeks to see if the other X-Men characters fare any better. Hit-and-Miss.

[Marvel, $2.99]

Usagi Yojimbo #135

Usagi Yojimbo's travels take him on a trek through secret mountain trails and another encounter with the deadly Lord of Owls.

The mysterious villain kills two groups of warriors, the first in a flashback told to Usagi by his mountain guide, and the second before Usagi's eyes as the mysterious creature mercilessly strikes down a band of outlaws disguised as monks.

As a single issue tale this one doesn't do much to stand-out, but from the verbal fencing between Usagi and the Lord of Owls you get the feeling writer Stan Sakai is laying the groundwork for an important future tale. On its own it's good story, but I wanted a little more. I also felt the art was slightly below Sakai's usual level of quality. Then again, I've been reading through a glut of very strong classic Usagi stories recently, so it's possible I'm judging this one too harshly by comparison.

Fans of the character will no doubt want to pick this one up, but for casual readers this issue delivers more on promise than execution.

[Dark Horse, $3.50]

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Annihilators #1

Taking the place of the now disbanded (and mostly dead) Guardians of the Galaxy comes a new super-powered cosmic squad of "Annihilators' including the Silver Surfer, Beta Ray Bill, Gladiator, Quasar, Ronan the Accuser, and Cosmo.

A new member Ikon, a Space Knight, arrives only to quickly anger almost every member of the team and almost lead to it disbanding before fighting a single battle. Thankfully, a crisis arises and the Annihilators set out to stop the Space Knight's arch-nemesis Doctor Dredd from freeing the Dire Wraiths from their prison.

The lighter side comes in the form of a B-story focused on Rocket Raccoon working in the mail room (where he was hired to fulfill the company's quota of cute sentient animals). Things aren't going great for the former Guardian, and then someone sends him a homicidal clown in the mail. Don't you hate it when that happens? The ensuing battle (and getting fired) lead the intrepid hero in search of his old pal Groot, but he's unprepared for what he finds.

Even if I find Doctor Dredd to be infused with way too much power for such a ridiculous character, there's still much worth reading. The choice of Quasar as the main story's narrator is an interesting one, although I am surprised (given his quantum bands) how insecure he feels towards the rest of his teammates. The real fun here, however, is the Raccoon story which alone is worth picking up.

[Marvel, $3.99]