Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year with Mila

Atlantis - The Song of the Sirens

Although initially it gives Hercules (Mark Addy) everything he could have wished, the warrior's deal with the witch Circe (Lucy Cohu) for a love spell to win over Medusa (Jemima Rooper) doesn't take long to take a turn for the worse as Medusa becomes ill from a curse which threatens her life. The introduction of Circe, a new character also tied to the throne of Atlantis and to Jason's (Jack Donnelly) destiny, allows the show to have fun with the witch's known use of transforming those who offended her into animals and force Jason and Pythagoras (Robert Emms) to deal with a version of Hercules who is even more of a pig than usual.

The Great Qualities of Adèle Exarchopoulos

Here's a look back at Blue is the Warmest Color star Adèle Exarchopoulos' photoshoot for the November issue of GQ. You can find more pics and video from the shoot inside.

Transformers: Regeneration One #97

The sudden arrival of Jhiaxus and his armada on Cyberton puts the Autobots on full alert. Despite his inital offer of peace, Rodimus Prime quickly discerns why Primus labelled the former senator a threat as Jhiaxus fills the Autobots' leader in on what he's been up to in the centuries since he left his homeworld. Not surprisingly, Rodimus turns down Jhiaxus' offer for Cybertron to join "The Hub."

Of course the senator's warriors don't wait for Rodimus' refusal before attacking both the primitive Transformers (who had just recently returned to the surface) and the Dinobots who attempt to stand-up for their new friends. Sadly, the Dinobots and Jetfire are severally injured in the attack meaning we might not see them for the next several issues.

The issue ends on an interesting note as it appears Shockwave and Starscream's roles on the sidelines as silent observers is at an end now that Jihaxus (who Starsream has some connection to) has returned. And on Earth Fortress Maximus comes back online, but he may not be the same loyal Autobot soldier as he once was. Worth a look.

[IDW, $3.99]

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Top 13 Movies of 2013

Personal journeys, isolation, the style of the 60's and 70's, self-destructive acts and debauchery, troubled romance, rivalries, and overcoming hardships - these were the major themes of the films that composed my list of the Top Movies of 2013. It turned out to be a strong year in movies as several films I thoroughly enjoyed failed to make this list. Rather than doing honorable mentions, I decided to stretch the list from 10 to 13 allowing me to include three more films I wanted to discuss but weren't otherwise going to earn a mention on a list of the Top 10 Movies of 2013. Here then are the The Top 13 Movies of 2013.

Nikita - Canceled

After four years Nikita comes to a close with a final episode putting Nikita (Maggie Q) and Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca) back into the field as assassins to avenge the death of Ryan (Noah Bean) and take down Amanda (Melinda Clarke) and the remaining members of the shadow organization responsible for his death. Offering us flashbacks to Nikita's early troubled days in Division, the finale plays on themes of the character returning to the emotionless killer Division recruited but struggled to control.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Blue Falcon & Dynomutt

Green Hornet #8

Moving on from the opening arc and the Green Hornet's battle with the Voice and Nazis, writer Mark Waid and artist Ronilson Freire offer up this more lighthearted one-shot (a rarity in the current period of comics where every 4-7 issue arc is being written for an eventual trade paperback release) featuring the tale of how the Hornet found some of the most loyal members of his underground network.

Green Hornet #8 offers an Oliver Twist-style tale as we learn about a group of homeless children working and stealing for an overweight tyrant calling himself the Green Hornet. When one of the kids happens across the real Green Hornet and Kato, the vigilante is alerted to the impostor and takes appropriate measures.

Although there's no mention of Christmas, the story fits well as a holiday-themed one-shot. It's also a nice break from the series' long opening arc (and I would love to see more single issue adventures in the months to come). Worth a look.

[Dynamite Entertainment, $3.99]

Mara Jade Skywalker by Queen Azshara Cosplay

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: New Animated Adventures #6

Given strict orders by Splinter to stick to the shadows and observe the Kraang's movements in an attempt to uncover what the alien brains might be up to, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Donatello prove that stealth and patience aren't the group's strong suit as they quickly engage the aliens and steal their new weapon which Raphael accidentally activates in the middle of the Shellraiser.

With an alien tentacle monster taking over their battle van, the Turtles' evening gets even more action-packed as the foursome work together to stop the monster (eventually turning it on its Kraang masters). The monster is your basic monster of the week, but its destructive nature (and the fact that they accidentally unleashed it on the city) does give the Turtles a legitimate threat to deal with.

Memorable mostly for the characters interactions (such as Raphael literally poking the beast after being warned not to), and with plenty of action and Turtle hijinks, fans of the show should enjoy the foursome's latest adventure. Worth a look.

[IDW, $3.99]

Saturday with Keira

Friday, December 27, 2013

Red Sonja #6

I've got to admit I found the conclusion of "Queen of Plagues," the opening arc of Dynamite Entertainment's new Red Sonja series, to be more than a little anticlimactic. After teasing us for five issues of an epic battle between Red Sonja and the brutal (and completely insane) Annisia writer Gail Simone throws a curveball by throwing in a common enemy of both women who is the puppet master behind the entire plague storyline.

The arc comes to an end with the death of both Annisia and Bazrat meeting their doom, but neither at the hands (or blade) of our Sonja. Although Red Sonja dispatches quite a few soldiers in a rage, her only memorable kill is beheading a kneeling, and defenseless, scientist. Hrm.

The comic also apparently says farewell to Sonja's loyal bodyguards Nias and Ayla who won't be accompanying the She-Devil on her journey onward (although they do get to kick some ass in their final appearance). I think the comic may be hurt without their humor and interactions with our heroine. Hit-and-Miss.

[Dynamite Entertainment, $3.99]

G.I. JOE: The Cobra Files #9

G.I. JOE: The Cobra Files comes to a close with a very talky final issue. Tomax, in the role of Bond villain, is given most of the issue to strut and share his genius with Chameleon. However, unlike Bond films, in this issue (and the series overall) the villain really does win.

As Tomax remarks, I'm not sure where the end of the comic leaves Chameleon who would be seen as untrustworthy (at best) by both Cobra and G.I. JOE following her defection to the JOEs and her unintentional role in the destruction of Flint's team.

Although we know Flint, Tomax, Chameleon (and possibly Lady Jaye) all make it out before the JOEs base is reduced to rubble the final fate of the rest of the team is far less certain, including the computer expert Clockspring whose development much of the series centered around. It's not a great final issue, but it does wrap-up the major storyline and leave the door open to new possibilities for all of these characters (at least the ones who aren't buried under tons of rubble). For fans.

[IDW, $3.99]

Friday with Ashley

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Doctor Who - The Time of The Doctor

Matt Smith's final adventure in Doctor Who gets The Doctor trapped in Christmas for centuries, sees the return of several old villains (and one former companion), and offers The Eleventh Doctor's final moments on the plains of Trenzalore. The Christmas episode feels a little too big at times, like an event careening a bit out of control, and relies far too heavily on narration, but Steven Moffat wraps up Smith's run with a nod to the very first episode of his three-and-a-half year run with the return of the Crack in space and time. And before the end, as prophesized, silence will indeed fall.

Samurai Jack #3

Samurai Jack's quest to gather the remaining Threads of Time leads him to a thriving Mediterrean town in the middle of nowhere and the city's friendly champion Gloer who holds a dark secret. At first everything in the town seems normal to the samuarai, and Gloer even proves a great host sparring with the time-displaced warrior. However, upon inquiring about the Threads of Time things take a dark turn.

Once again staying true the the original cartoon, the latest issue by Jim Zub and artist Andy Suriano offers us a tale where all is not what it seems. The truth is only discovered when the town is overrun with minions from Aku who prove too much for Samurai Jack and the Gloer (who seems reluctant to fight).

The truth is the hero, like his town is long dead in the attack the samurai witnessed and only the Threads of Time allow him to stay and remember his home as it was. Freeing the ghost, Samurai Jack continues his journey onward to best Aku and make it home. Worth a look.

[IDW, $3.99]

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

47 Ronin

It has been said the story of the Forty-seven Ronin is the definitive Japanese tale dealing with themes on honor, revenge, and the code of Bushidō. Although the events described in the tale actually took place, over the years the story has morphed into something between legend and a morality tale, however the new film certainly takes the licence to add a far more fantastic spin on the proceedings.

The crux of the original tale is the centers around the greed and deviousness of Lord Kira (Tadanobu Asano) who uses the strict rules of his land to disgrace the rival lord in the neighboring province. The film's version increases the level of machination by Kira by several degrees adding the use of a witch (Rinko Kikuchi), poison, mind control, and dark magic to force Lord Asano's (Min Tanaka) rash actions.

The Wolf of Wall Street

Based on Jordan Belfort's own accounts, The Wolf of Wall Street stars Leonardo DiCaprio as an aspiring stockbroker whose discovery of penny stocks, and how they could be used to earn a broker far more profit than an investor, led to his meteoric rise and eventual downfall. Reuniting with DiCaprio and choosing The Sopranos' Terence Winter to adapt Belfort's book, director Martin Scorsese's three-hour comedy highlights the absurdity and tragedy of Belfort's life on Wall Street while making a pretty strong argument for the entire industry's inherently-flawed nature which only feeds on humanity's worst impulses.

Three hours is too long for a comedy, any comedy, but I'll give credit to Winter and Scorsese for producing the funniest movie I saw all year. Part of this is due to the nature of the story and how Scorsese chooses to frame it for maximum effect and part is in the casting. Jonah Hill (as Belfort's best-friend and partner) and Matthew McConaughey (in the far smaller role of Belfort's mentor) both provide bizarre, but also often hilarious, moments.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

As was true of the 1947 film starring Danny Kaye, the new version of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is loosely based on the short story of the same name by James Thurber about an otherwise unexceptional man who daydreams heroic realities rather than deal with the far less exciting truth of his humdrum existence. As with Kaye's film, the lesson of the film is Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) finally having a real adventure and learning up to stand-up for himself in the world outside of his imagination.

Set in the final days of Life Magazine's print edition, Walter spends most of his time daydreaming about what he'd like to actually say to his ridiculously-bearded new boss (Adam Scott) and a fellow co-worker Cheryl (Kristen Wiig) whom he's fancied from afar for some time. The loss of the negative for the magazine's final issue forces Walter out of his comfort zone, with a little prompting from Cheryl (both the real and Walter's imagined versions), to seek out the photographer (Sean Penn) and find the missing negative.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Adapted by sreeenwriter William Nicholson, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is a solid biopic based on the autobiography of Nelson Mandela (Idris Elba). After a brief montage of his life as a child and a glimpse at his role as an attorney in Johannesburg, the film focuses primarily on the events that led to his involvement with the ANC as a leading voice in the fight against apartheid (without getting too specific about his exact role when the organization moved away from nonviolent resistance) and his eventual imprisonment of 27 years for his crimes.

The highlight of the film is the performances, particularly Elba taking on such a daunting role and Naomie Harris as Mandela's wife Winnie who we see faced several of her own hardships. During the early part of Mandela's imprisonment the film's focus momentarily shifts to Winnie's various battles against the government including her own incarceration. The film introduces the idea of how Nelson and Winnie both react differently to their situations but, as with other aspects of the story, the theme is presented but never fully developed.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry X-Mas from Geekette Ashe Rogue

Atlantis - White Lies

When a messenger (Daniel Adegboyega) is caught in the palace and mistaken for a thief, Ariadne (Aiysha Hart) learns that the brother she thought she had long lost to treason and death is still alive. However, after some torture and witchcraft, Queen Pasiphae (Sarah Parish) discovers the thief's true intention to reunite the fallen prince (whose treason she concocted to remove him as an obstacle to her quest for power) with his sister. Knowing she can not allow Ariadne to know the truth behind why Therus (Darwin Shaw) fled the city a decade ago, the witch takes steps to prevent the sibling's reunion.

Supergirl #26

Supergirl returns home after months away to reconnect with possibly the hero's only remaining friend, scientist Shay Veritas, while also taking on a new threat in Lobo for the first issue of the new creative team of writer Tony Bedard and artist Yildiray Cinar.

Let's start with the obvious, I (like anyone who doesn't work in DC Editorial) hate the New 52 version of Lobo. However, the end of Supergirl's battle with the Czarnian opens up a real opportunity to scrap the horrible redesign of the character after a single issue (which would be amazing if I actually thought DC had the balls to do it).

The new team does a pretty good job of summarizing Kara's recent storylines while jumping the character into action against a formidable (if stupidly designed) adversary. I like Cinar's take on Kara (even if I think Bedard's dialogue is a little too whiny for much of the pair's first issue). There's enough here for me to stick around to see where the new team plans to take our heroine. Worth a look.

[DC, $2.99]

Daredevil #34

The series begins to wrap-up its ongoing stories as Daredevil moves ever closer to its final issue. Returned to New York, Daredevil puts the pages he stole from the Darkhold and a little Avengers tech to good use to not only expose and take down the Jester and deal another blow to the Sons of the Serpent by exposing their plot to divide the city.

Although I haven't been the biggest fan of the Sons of the Serpent arc, this issue works well on resolving several loose threads by returning Daredevil to New York and bringing back Kristen McDuffie who Matt Murdock finally stops playing coy with and asks for her help (which almost ends disastrously for them both).

Although the tone is upbeat and Daredevil manages to get a victory while sidestepping disaster, it's obvious from the last couple of panels that the final two issues of the series are likely to be far darker as the fate of Foggy Nelson will finally be decided (and apparently the news isn't good). Worth a look.

[Marvel, $2.99]

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry X-Mas from Callie Cosplay

Teen Titans Go! #1

Given the success of the Cartoon Network show I'm surprised it's taken this look for DC to put out a Teen Titans Go! monthly comic. In the spirit of the animated series (and allowing DC to release each half issue as a separate digital comic), the new series features two stories set in the Titans Tower. Fans of the cartoon should enjoy the comics' wacky antics as well.

The first story from writer Sholly Fisch and artist Ben Bates features an investigation into who is stealing Cyborg's sandwiches from the Titans refrigerator. Although Robin's investigative methods don't turn up anything, the discovery of Raven's demonic pizza monster answers several questions.

The back-up story from writer Merrill Hagan and Jorge Corona plays on Robin's obsessively-compulsive natures as the Boy Wonder and Beast Boy get into a bet while playing miniature golf. As often happens in the cartoon, the situation gets far out of control and gets the Titans banned from the golf course for life. Worth a look.

[DC, $2.99]

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #29

Beaten, battered, and broken, the Turtles exile from New York City begins with a trip to April's family farm in Northampton. The journey not only allows the Turtles time to rest and lick their wounds, and for Leonardo to come to terms with Shredder's brainwashing, but also for April to spend some time with her parents (which may also hold some important answers for the Turtles as well).

Splinter, the Turtles, Casey, and April aren't the only ones who make the trip north as a former Foot lieutenant decides to stowaway with them. With Leonardo's mind still far from right I'm going to be very interested to see what Alopex's true motives are and whether the arctic fox becomes a friend and ally to the Turtles.

From Leonardo and Raphael's continued squabbling, and Leo's refusal to accept Splinter's commands, it's obvious there's much healing to be done over the next few months but the tale April's parents have to tell may give the Turtles yet another reason for returning home sooner than planned. Worth a look.

[IDW, $3.99]

22 Jump Street trailer

After the success of 21 Jump StreetJonah Hill and Channing Tatum return for the appropriately titled 22 Jump Street heading to college for their new undercover assignment. Ice Cube, Dave Franco, Nick Offerman, Rob RiggleAmber StevensEddie J. Fernandez, and Sal Longobardo also star.

Nikita - Bubble

The penultimate episode of Nikita offers us the calm before the storm, at least until harsh reality cracks the illusion of victory and safety Nikita (Maggie Q) and her team believe they have won. We begin with Nikita, Michael (Shane West), Ryan (Noah Bean), Sonya (Lyndie Greenwood), and Birkhoff (Aaron Stanford) all living in suburban homes on a Washington military base. In a single montage "Bubble" offers each of their separate testimony over the dark history of Division and the roads that have led them to this point which leads to Nikita becoming the hero of the story Washington desperately needs to present to frame the story and end the national nightmare.

Scarlet Spider #25

After two years Kaine's adventures in Houston as the Scarlet Spider end in the title's final issue. Picking up some time after the events that ended Kaine's super-hero career which are shown in a series of flashbacks which demonstrate the former killer's heroics and the face of his monstrous nature (and why he can never return to Houston) we find Kaine and Aracely working their way down the Mexican coast in an attempt to begin a new life and forget their old one.

Although the entire issue has a somber mood, writer Christopher Yost still manages to infuse it with the spirit of the title's more upbeat issues. I'm glad to see Kaine and Aracely together at the end of the series which suggests (hopefully) that she'll be joining him in Marvel's New Warriors title early next year. The idea I'm going to have to read a New Warriors comic to get more of Scarlet Spider isn't great news, but Aracely's involvement would soften the blow.

I'll miss this title which leaves me no monthly Spidey comics (at least none I care to read). And I'll miss Yost's rehabilitative take on a character who ends the series far more interesting than when it began. Worth a look.

[Marvel, $3.99]

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Merry X-Mas from Silver Shade Cosplay

Silver Shade Cosplay is a cosplayer from Colorado. You can follow her on Facebook, Tumblr, and deviantART.

Star Wars #12

After getting all the recently-returned Rebel soldiers up to speed on recent events (including Kell Bircher's role as the Rebellion's mole within the Empire) the comic moves forward with Wedge announcing his plans to form Rouge Squadron, Prithi's decision to leave the Rebellion and return home to Chalacta, and Leia making a startling announcement about the Rebellion's new home... and that of her future husband.

Of all the big events in this single issue fans are likely to be psyched for the creation of Rouge Squadron, but my attention was directed at the sad farewell of Luke and Prithi (by far the comic's most interesting original character who I'm very sorry to see go).

As to Leia's pronouncement of her plans to wed and get an entire planet for the Rebellion as a dowry, while still having time to get into some sexually-tense moments with Han, we'll have to see what circumstances occur to throw a wrench into the proceedings and leave Leia free, years later, to marry a certain scruffy-looking nerfhereder. Worth a look.

[Dark Horse, $2.99]

How to Train Your Dragon 2 trailer

We now a new full-length trailer for the How to Train Your Dragon sequel where Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is in for more surprises, more dragons, new dangers, and the return of his mother ()? America FerreraGerard ButlerCraig FergusonJonah HillChristopher Mintz-PlasseKristen Wiig, and T.J. Miller all return to voice their characters from the first film. How to Train Your Dragon 2 flies into theaters on June 13th.

Hawaii Five-0 - Pukana

Christmas Eve brings the case of a murdered burglar (Danny Barclay) to Five-0 whose body was dumped in the trunk of an abandoned car in a junkyard. Five-0 picks up the man's partner (Scott Subiono) but to find the actual crime scene and killer Catherine (Michelle Borth) and Chin Ho (Daniel Dae Kim) search for the final house the victim robbed. Although Chin finds the right house, the owner (James Urbaniak) has good reason for not reporting the break-in and making sure the thief never spoke of what he found in the man's wall safe.

Merry X-Mas from Liz Katz

G.I. JOE #11

Rather than move forward to immediately deal with the fallout from the "Threat Matrix" story arc, the latest issue of G.I. JOE takes a look back at the circumstances behind how Roadblock became a member of the team. The issue begins with the Roadblock dealing with the apparent death of his cousin (terrifically portrayed by artist Steve Kurth).

Despite being told Heavy Duty died on a top secret operation, the soldier begins to suspect his cousin may still be alive which leads him to hunt down an IP address, break into a secret military facility, and headbutt Snake Eyes (an awesome sight that does not go unnoticed by Scarlett). His ingenuity and toughness not only lead him to find his missing cousin but get recruited to join Heavy Duty as a member of the JOEs. Worth a look.

Giving us a look at the origins of not one but two JOEs (and a cameo from Snake Eyes) G.I. JOE #11 is a very good single issue break from the title's ongoing storylines. Worth a look.

[IDW, $3.99]

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Red Hood and the Outlaws #26

After taking several months off from this title I returned to see Jason Todd get his memory returned and battle alongside Starfire and Arsenal against the League of Assassins and newly-rejuvenated Ra's al Ghul. Although the issue still relies a bit too much on the All-Caste subplot that's been a huge part of the tile since it's New 52 launch, the characters of Essence and Ducra are kept at arms-length here.

Given the choice of watching his friends die at the hands of Ra's al Ghul and his soldiers, Todd chooses to remember his past and, once fully restored, reveals this was all part of his (irrational) plan.

The issue ends with the Red Hood and the Outlaws doing a pretty good job of holding their own against the League including the Red Hood fighting Bronze Tiger to a standstill. But should Todd be victorious (which seems likely as the comic has solicitations for the next several months) I'd like to see the character given a chance to spread his wings without the baggage of the All-Caste or the Outlaws to weigh him down. For fans.

[DC, $2.99]

Merry X-Mas from LeeAnna Vamp

White Collar - No Good Deed

White Collar's mid-season finale brings one of the missing gold coins from the season's first episode to Peter's (Tim DeKay) attention. That, and the name of the fence (Micah A. Hauptman) who is moving them, will lead to Peter's discovery of a large piece (but certainly not all) of the circumstances behind Neal's (Matt Bomer) involvement in the $1.8 million heist and how that money paid for Peter's freedom by bribing a Federal prosecutor. Curiously, Neal keeps The Dutchman's (Mark Sheppard) name out of his confession leaving one more shoe yet to drop.

Uncanny X-Men #15

The Inhumanity tie-in (Marvel's winter event cross-over) offers a look at the female members of the team (Magik, Jean Grey, Celeste, Irma, Phoebe, Tempus, and Kitty Pryde) who Emma Frost leads out for a little shopping in London. Their normal night out is sadly cut short by the presence of an Inhuman cocoon and the birth of a new Inhuman.

The Inhumans have never really interested me as anything but minor supporting characters in larger Marvel events so I'm not too keen on yet another cross-over event I'm less than thrilled about looking to hijack another book I want to read. That said, I really enjoyed this issue for the interactions between the various members of the team before running into the newborn Inhuman.

With the addition of some of the time-displaced X-Men and Kitty Pryde, Cyclops' team of X-Men is growing larger (and less reliant on former super-villains). With the teasing of Magneto's eventual betrayal it will be interesting to see how much more shake-up we see in the team over the course of 2014. Worth a look.

[Marvel, $3.99]

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Rocketeer & The Spirit: Pulp Friction #4

The four-issue mini-series comes to a close with The Spirit able to talk a mind-controlled Betty out of going all stabby-stabby on the undead hero and the two heroes once again putting their differences aside and The Spirit and The Rocketeer work together to uncover the plot of the Octopus and Trask who attempt to use their new teleporting television signal to deliver the President to the Nazis.

The Rocketeer & The Spirit: Pulp Friction #4 works well to wrap-up the various storylines (although it gives Betty a far bigger part of the final chapter than the largely absent Ellen). The use of FDR was well done, as was Cliff learning to use leverage to keep the rocket out of the hands of the U.S. Government.

The storyline ends with a hint of another possible team-up between the pair which I would certainly be up for (although next time maybe we could stick with a single artist to give the story a more consistent look?). I'd also love for DC to actually give The Spirit new life of his own in an ongoing title, but I won't hold my breath for either to happen anytime soon. Worth a look.

[IDW, $3.99]

Power Girl by Gracey Darling

Inside Llewyn Davis

Over the years the Coen Brothers have used setting, music, and tone to tell a variety of tales. Lacking the broad comedic strokes of Burn After Reading or the darker undertones of No Country for Old Men and their True Grit remake, the brothers' latest is a more straightforward and personal character study of life of a struggling artist. Thinking over their filmography you can say the Coens have produced funnier, stranger, more disturbing, and perhaps even more memorable films, but this immersive drama ranks as one of their best.

Set primarily in the Greenwich Village folk music scene of 1961, Inside Llewyn Davis follows the life of Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac), a known and liked (or at least tolerated) folk singer in his small circle and a real son of a bitch to nearly ever single person he knows. Over the film's 105-minute running-time we witness Davis nomadically travel with his guitar, a carton of unsold records, and a friend's cat as his only prized possessions.

Saving Mr. Banks

Written by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith, and based off pieces of the life of P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), Saving Mr. Banks is half of a really good film. The story is broken into flashbacks of Travers' childhood and decades later when Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) was attempting to buy the rights from the author's children's books to make Mary Poppins.

Although there is much to enjoy in the later Disney years (despite the oversimplification of Travers' stubbornness) the film gets bogged down in the weight of the constant flashbacks which may offer a peek at the real story that first created Mary Poppins on the page but ignores much of the life story of the woman who wrote her.

The scenes involving the young Travers' () drunken but imaginative father (Colin Farrell), troubled mother (Ruth Wilson), and larger-than-life aunt (Rachel Griffiths) fall in the realm of Dinsey-ized melancholy, but the scenes in California between the equally stubborn Disney and Travers provide its magic.

American Hustle

For this 70's tale of con men (Christian Bale and Amy Adams) in over their heads writer/director David O. Russell reunites with Silver Linings Playbook stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. Part character study, part insane and over-the-top adventure, American Hustle offers audiences one of the year's best films.

After a brief introduction to Irving Rosenfeld (Bale) and his mistress and co-conspirator Sydney (Adams), the pair are busted by up-and-coming FBI hot-head Richie DiMaso (Cooper) who decides to use the pair to pull in even bigger fish. Regardless of danger or consequences, and against the orders of his boss (Louis C.K.), DiMaso pushes Irving and Sydney into going after both the mob and local politicians, beginning with Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) who is interested in rebuilding Atlantic City.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Worlds' Finest #18

After finding a way to temporarily de-power her out of control partner by dunking her in the East River, the Huntress still has to continue her search for the the super-powered tattoo killer (who DC Editorial has unfortunately decided to name "Tats") who has a personal vendetta against the city's more glamorous population. Meanwhile, Power Girl continues to try and get her bearings and come to grips with the fact that her powers are now completely out of control.

Because so much of the issue is spent resolving the cliffhanger and Huntress finding a way to stop her best-friend from going nuclear in the middle of the city, little progress is made in the search for their killer. However, the issue does introduce the woman's boss, a priest of the demon Xazdi whose gifts have allowed her to wreak havoc in the city.

As always the best parts of the comic are the interactions between our two heriones which we get quite a bit of to both open and close the issue. I'm not sure where this Tats/Xazdi storyline is going but I'll keep sticking around for more of Helena and Kara who next month are finally going to earn their first annual. Worth a look.

[DC, $2.99]

G.I. JOE: Special Missions #10

The new four-part arc of the JOE's Special Mission Force focuses on taking down Destro before he finishes perfecting his deadly new version of B.A.T. To do so Scarlett decides to pull Copperback out of maximum-security prison and enlist her help to track down the man responsible for killing Copperback's father. Of course it doesn't take long for the former Cobra operative to turn on Scarlett and her team and the ruins of Destro's former stronghold.

I'm all in favor of a Destro-centric arc, and G.I. JOE: Special Missions #10 does a great job of selling me on the dangerous wild card Copperback represents. However, I am a bit confused when exactly the arc takes place as Destro just fell out of favor with Cobra (in fact Cobra Commander himself just led a raid of the weaponer's home).

Despite the timing and continuity problems (why is the Baroness all of the sudden wearing a completely different version of her basic costume?), I'm looking forward to see where writer Chuck Dixon takes things from here. Worth a look.

[IDW, $3.99]

Person of Interest - Lethe

With Reese (Jim Caviezel) on a cross-country soul-searching trip at the bottom of the bottle, and Fusco (Kevin Chapman) keeping tabs on him for Finch (Michael Emerson), resources are stretched rather thin. After ignoring The Machine for days, Harold finally discovers the latest number is an old friend (Saul Rubinek) and computer developer who worked for a rival team to build a version of The Machine following the events of 9/11 but is now suffering from a brain tumor making his ability to both remember and keep quiet about top secret operations like Samaritan a secret.

Batman: Black and White #4

The black-and-white anthology series puts out another strong issue highlighted by the final story from writer Sean Galloway and artist Derek Laufman involving a classic Batman and Robin adventure (and the 60's television show's Batmobile) as the Dynamic Duo set out to save a missing Superman from Brainiac. Laufman's style and use layering panels to suggest motion is pretty damn cool.

Without any real weak stories this month, Black and White #4 also boasts a Mad Hatter and Penguin tale from Michael and Lee Allred where Cobblepot attempts to out-wit both the Hatter and the Dark Knight Detective (which features Micahel Allred's trademark smooth but quirky style), Dustin Nguyen does double duty writing and illustrating an average night for Batman in Gotham City ending with an appearance by Catwoman, Nathan Edmondson and Kenneth Rocafort offer up a tale of Batman taking on an invisible enemy, and David Macho and Rubén Pellejero deliver a tale of Batman getting the help of a homeless veteran (and his pet rat) to take down Killer Croc. Worth a look.

[DC, $4.99]

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Nova #11

Despite the final issue of the last panel suggesting Sam Alexander was blind, that's actually far from the case (as he has his sight for he entire issue). What Sam is actually seeing (even when not wearing the helmet) is a series of dots that make up a map to the remains of other members of the Nova Squadron all of whom are dead (at least so far that we know).

After making the revelation, and serving out his sentence in Chess Club rather than detention for his latest fight with a bully whose behavior the principal so far has shown zero interest in altering, Nova eventually shoots back into the stars to investigate one of the small blips on the map where he not only finds the body of a Nova but the space-spider creatures who killed him.

Despite immediately abandoning the set-up of a blind Sam, the issue has fun moments on both Earth (involving Sam babysitting his little sister) and in space (where they hero discovers the fate of another Nova). Worth a look.

[Marvel, $3.99]

Almost Human - Arrhythmia

After a gunman with a stolen mechanical heart dies of a cardiac arrest that he correctly predicted down to the exact minute, Kennex (Karl Urban) and Dorian (Michael Ealy) investigate the world of black market refurbished organs. Their investigation isn't helped by Dorian deciding to save another DRN android whose unpredictability creates unforeseen circumstances when Dorian insists he be allowed to tag along.

Powerpuff Girls #4

Although things start off well-enough for our pint-sized heroes with working with the various former villains to keep the city safe, the second-half of the six-issue mini-series begins a big shift in the story. The new-found peace and happiness of Townsville is threatened when HIM decides to lessen his control over the city's super-villains allowing each of them to begin to revert back to form.

Powerpuff Girls #4 has some fun moments (one of my favorite being Bubbles' picnic with Fuzzy Lumpkins which is captured so beautifully on the variant cover by artist Agnes Garbowska I just had to snatch it up). Buttercup and and Blossom also have issues when their newly-reformed friends "accidentally" put the pair in danger. And it appears the transformation of Mojo Jojo back into plain old Jojo wasn't such a permanent thing after all.

With the various villains all now up to no good I'd expect quite a bit of action in the final two issues of this enjoyable mini-series from writer/artist Troy Little. Worth a look.

[IDW, $3.99]