Saturday, December 31, 2011

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Top 11 Movies of 2011

2011 was a year centered firmly on both endings and beginnings, returns to greatness, nostalgic looks back, and terrifying looks forward. The year gave us stories centered on stars and filmakers of the past, the first silent film of the new millennium, and treatises on life, death, mental illness, and the end of the world.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Glee: The Concert Movie

Concert films are tricky beasts. Not only do you have to make hard decisions in how the performances are shot, especially when you have a stage full of performers to showcase, but there's also the question of how much behind-the-scenes and backstage footage to show. For Glee: The Concert Movie there's the added challenge when dealing with characters from a popular television show as to whether you allow the actors to be themselves or stay in character throughout the entire performance.

With footage taken from the concert in East Rutherford, New Jersey, during the group's Glee Live! In Concert! tour the movie includes 24 songs (including several numbers chosen just for the concert series) performed by the Glee cast as well as backstage moments with the show's cast (in character). Sprinkled throughout the movie are short interviews and mini-documentaries of selected Glee fans.

Paula Patton Sexes up GQ

In the January issue of GQ actress Paula Patton discusses her new role in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, joining the franchise, life as a spy, doing her own stunts for the film, and her marriage to Alan Thicke. You can read a little more of the interview in GQ here and take a look inside for video and stills for Patton's GQ photoshoot.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Catch .44

I'm not sure if writer/director Aaron Harvey is attempting to give us nothing more than B-movie along the lines of 2 Days in the Valley or (God help us) Smokin' Aces or if he aspires to something more like early Tarantino. Whatever his intentions, what Catch .44 delivers is a trio of attractive actresses, short skirts, a couple loving butt shots, and a movie not nearly as smart as it wants to be.

Our story begins with a theft of a drug shipment gone wrong. Our would be robbers are a trio of women working for a local drug trafficker (Bruce Willis). After the opening shootout the movie resets to the beginning of the night as Tes (Malin Akerman), Kara (Nikki Reed), and Dawn (Deborah Ann Woll) while away the hours together before their job goes horribly wrong.

Birds of Prey #4

It takes more than half the issue but Batgirl finally joins the team. The addition of Batgil may mean good things for the future of the comic but it doesn't do much to help out here as the story is still stuck in neutral with invisible ninja assassins and super-secret scientists planting bombs in peoples heads.

Birds of Prey is a comic I want to like but now for four months it's given me little reason to do so. The addition of Batgirl isn't the only change that needs to be made on this title. We still know next to nothing about Starling, Katana remains a one-note character, and I don't see how Babs sticks around for a team that includes Poison Ivy as one of its members.

The good news is Batgirl works well here, especially with Black Canary. It's good to see the Babs/Dinah team back together. Now if we can just figure out a way to get Zinda Blake and the Huntress to replace Poison Ivy and Katana we might, might have something. Hit-and-Miss.

[DC, $2.99]

Nightwing #4

Another of DC Comics New 52 titles goes off the rails. We know we're in trouble from the very start when the comic is opened to find a that Trevor McCarthy has replaced Eddy Barrows as artist for this issue. Aside from not knowing what age to draw Dick Grayson (a common problem in Bat-books this month) McCarthy's art is certainly slick, but he seems to be suffering from the same affliction of Jim Lee and Todd McFarlane in wanting to draw characters in awkward angles in big splash pages regardless of whether it helps tell the story (or makes sense).

The story is also confusing as Batgirl comes to town asking for Nightwing's help (after telling him to stay away just one month ago). I don't know if the writers' were going for a Buffy/Angel homage here, but it's impossible not to see the similarities with "Sanctuary" and "The Yoko Factor."

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Justice League #4

I've enjoyed the New 52 version of the Justice League, but this latest issue from writer Geoff Johns and artist Jim Lee is a complete trainwreck. For the issue that introduces Darkseid, one of DC Comics' biggest and baddest villains, to fumble the ball this badly is simply inexcusable.

Almost everything goes wrong here as the characters speak in nothing more than clipped plot and character points, Lee's art finds the characters in more and more ridiculous poses, and even the action shots don't make sense from panel to panel.

The humor and character interactions that worked well in previous issues are missing (except for Green Lantern's comment about Batman's reaction to GL touching Wonder Woman's lasso of truth). Darkseid is imposing, but I'm not really sure we needed a centerfold of the character, and the layout of the sequence is bizarre as the League is starring at the villain emerging from a Boom Tube yet, in close-ups, the Boom Tube is to the back of every character. How is this possible? Pass.

[DC, $2.99]

Leverage - The Lonely Hearts Job

The Leverage team takes a case from an unlikely client when a millionaire (David Ogden Stiers), the sort the team usually takes down, begs Nate (Timothy Hutton) to find his missing wife. What starts out as a missing persons case, or a possible kidnapping, turns into something completely different when the team uncovers a ring of grifters running a complex sweetheart scam on several unsuspecting marks.

Young Justice #11

With so many Bat-titles out right now imagine my surprise in finding the best Batman and Robin story of the month in Young Justice. The rest of the team is given most of this issue off as Robin helps Batman track down Ra's al Ghul and foil his latest diabolical plot to rid the planet of humanity.

The action is great. We get Batman and Robin battling several assassins as well as Ubu, Talia, and a final showdown between Batman and Ra's al Ghul.

Writer Greg Weisman makes good use of Talia's torn loyalties and her feelings for the Dark Knight Detective as well as Batman's more understated feelings for her in return (who knows Talia isn't going to be pleased by Robin being responsible for the latest "death" of her father).

The rest of the Bat-books have been a little shaky this month, but I'll give credit for Young Justice for delivering a fun Bat-story on all counts. And the best part is we'll get even more as the story concludes next month! Worth a look.

[DC, $2.99]

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe

The Doctor (Matt Smith) literally crashes into another unsuspecting human's life on Christmas when he plummets from space to land in a crater at the feet of Madge Arwell (Claire Skinner). Despite being stuck in the suit, The Doctor is able to return to the TARDIS with Madge's help and three years later he returns to repay the favor.

Daredevil #7

The holidays turn out to be anything but stress-free for Matt Murdock when his getaway with eight blind at-risk students goes horribly wrong after their bus gets lost and crashes in a snowstorm.

Far from anywhere, thanks to the (now deceased) bus driver's shortcut, Daredevil puts on a brave face and sets out with the kids through the blizzard (which is playing havoc with his radar sense) to find some safety.

It may not have any super-villains, but Daredevil #7 is one of the year's best comics which showcases the hero's heart as well as the resiliency of the children who end up saving the hero.

There's also a great opening scene between Matt Murdock and Kristen McDuffie at the Nelson & Murdock holiday party where the lawyer shows up in horns and a red and white hoodie proclaiming he's no super-hero. I think the kids would disagree. Best of the week.

[Marvel, $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, Archie, Dynamite, Image Comics, and others.

This week includes Alpha Flight, Angel & Faith, Aquaman, Archie, Blackhawks, The Cape, Captain America, Deadpool, Dungeons & Dragons, FF, The Flash, Godland, The Guild: Zaboo, Haunt, Hellblazer, Incorruptible, Kick-Ass 2, Knightingail, Kung Fu Panda, Rain, Red Sonja, Savage Hawkman, Secret Avengers, Star Trek, Superman, Teen Titans, Warlord of Mars, the first issues of DC Comics Presents: Batman - Urban Legends, Extinction Seed, Too Much Coffee Man, and the final issues of DMZ, Iron Man 2.0, and Space Warped.

Enjoy issue #160

Sunday, December 25, 2011

War Horse

For his latest director Steven Spielberg returns to the theater of war, but in a far more family friendly way than Saving Private Ryan. War Horse centers around the relationship between a young man (Jeremy Irvine) and his horse, separated by the war, both trying to survive and make it back to each other. If it sounds like Lassie Goes to War, it is, except in this case Lassie is a horse (and Timmy falls into WWI instead of a well).

For the second time in a matter of weeks Spielberg delivers a somewhat disappointing film. War Horse doesn't have the same problem as The Adventures of Tintin, having no real heart at the middle of the story, but it is overly sentimental and far, far too much like a Lassie film than I assume the director planned to make.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #5

With the four brothers finally reunited the latest issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles takes a breath to give us a holiday issue which sees Raphael training with Michelangelo, Donatello and Leonardo, and Splinter narrating a flashback of the story of Hamato Yoshi and Oroku Saki.

I've really enjoyed this reboot of the Turtles franchise and the final issue of the year proves to be the best so far. Although bloody, the tragedy of Yoshi and his family is handled with skill as more clues to the Turtles' past are revealed.

We also get a little foreshadowing on how April O'Neil will be brought into Casey Jones and the Turtles' world as well as a sequence where each of the four turtles earns their own mask to showcase their individuality. Is the explanation of giving the characters different masks (as they wore in the cartoon) a bit of a stretch? Yes, but it works surprisingly well.

Although I'm still missing the original look of Kevin Eastman's art this comic is proving to be one of best around. Best of the Week.

[IDW, $3.99]

Chuck Versus the Santa Suit

Chuck's final Christmas episode returns a familiar face to the show when the identity of the man behind the conspiracy to destroy Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi) is revealed to be none other than Daniel Shaw (Brandon Routh).

Batman #4

Scott Snyder's run on the newly relauned Batman started pretty strong but this issue, much like issue #3, gets bogged down too much in the history of a young Bruce Wayne's obsession with the mysterious secret organization known as the Court of Owls.

The idea is presented (and thankfully dismissed) that the secret sect may have had something to do with the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne. There's also an offhand reference to Joe Chill that comes off clumsy and confusing (even more so because we don't know if Batman knows Chill killed his parents in this New 52 version of the DCU, or if Chill is even responsible here).

Although I'm happy to see Snyder focusing on the detective aspect of Batman, the mystery surrounding the Court of Owls has gotten stagnant. I'm also sad to see that Bruce Wayne's relationship with Dick Grayson appears to be more dismissive and less collaborative than I'd like.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Artist

Fame is a fickle thing. The largest star in the world can fall into relative obscurity almost overnight, and an extra can go from chorus girl to center stage almost as quickly. Hollywood films have played on these themes for decades, but none in more than 80 years have done so quite like The Artist.

Set to a Vertigo-esque score by Ludovic Bource The Artist is a marvel in itself. In an age where CGI is king this little independent film takes us back nearly a century by embracing the era of Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks.

In 2011 it's not every day you get a black and white silent film. The action alone carries the story, with title cards (rather than subtitles) to fill in any necessary exposition.

We Bought a Zoo

We Bought a Zoo certainly isn't writer/director Cameron Crowe's best film. However, it is his most family friendly and, with the possible exception of Jerry McGuire, his most commercial. It some circles that may be seen as a bad thing, but if Crowe's latest is a little more formulaic than usual he still delivers a charming film that most should be able to enjoy.

Based on a true story, Matt Damon stars as Benjamin Mee, a single-father still reeling from the death of his wife (Maggie Elizabeth Jones). In need of a fresh start, and against the advice of his brother (Thomas Haden Church) and the disapproval of his angsty teenage son (Colin Ford), Benjamin spends the family's savings to buy a rundown zoo, saving the park and the 200 species from destruction.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Ten Best Ongoing Comic Series of 2011

2011 turned out to be a pretty good year for comics. This list takes a look at the best on-going titles of the year (that means no mini-series or series released only as a graphic novel). To make the list each title had have at least four issues before the close of 2011. DC Comics leads my list with five titles (however, only one is still in print), Marvel comes in second with two of the best titles of the year, and then we throw in a rabbit ronin, a crime-fighting mallard, and a foursome of fearsome turtle power.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey trailer

It may still be a year away, but we now have our first trailer for director Peter Jackson's return to Middle Earth in the first-half of the new movie adaptation of The Hobbit. Martin Freeman stars as Bilbo Baggins who is tricked by Gandalf (Ian McKellen) to join the quest of twelve dwarves (Richard ArmitageGraham McTavishKen StottAidan TurnerDean O'GormanMark HadlowAdam BrownJohn CallenWilliam KircherPeter HambletonJames NesbittStephen Hunter) into the Misty Mountains to retrieve their treasure from the dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch). Several LoTR alums reprise their roles in the new film including Elijah WoodAndy SerkisHugo WeavingOrlando BloomChristopher Lee, Cate Blanchett, and Ian Holm. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opens in theaters on December 14, 2012.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Nine #4

Freefall, the first story arc of Buffy Season Nine, comes to an end as Buffy Summers squares off against the Siphon. In a trend that has continued through four issues (perhaps as a reverse nod to the Star Trek movie franchise?) the odd-numbered issues have been better than the even-numbered ones.

Although issue #4 isn't bad, it does have a few problems including some sketchy art by Georges Jeanty. Buffy comes out looking like the Slayer we know and love, but many of the supporting characters only vaguely resenble their television counterparts (Xander and Dawn especially).

I'm also very mixed on the comic's conclusion. Buffy being saved by the police at the last minute might get her out of immediate legal trouble (although there still is that whole "is slaying murder" issue left to be resolved), but it sure comes off anticlimactic when your super-heroine has to be saved by a guy with a gun. Hit-and-Miss.

[Dark Horse, $2.99]

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Batman and Robin #4

Although I'm still disappointed that Damian has been rebooted back into the little shit he was when he was first introduced (basically erasing all the progress the character had made working with Dick Grayson and Stephanie Brown) I will give writer Peter J. Tomasi credit for finding a way to play on the character's insecurity and rebellious nature.

One of the things Batman and Robin has done well is to give us a Batman from his son's perspective. As the reader we know why Batman is protecting and sheilding Damian from certain things, but from his perspective it looks like Batman is a stubborn ass.

I'm less thrilled with Nobody and his connection with Henri Ducard. Although he does offer Damian a tempataion, we know, despite all his flaws, Damian isn't likely to give into his baser desires this early in the New 52. This means despite being handled with some skill (although the opening diatribe in the drive-in is pretty awful) this arc ultimately has nowhere to go. Worth a look.

[DC, $2.99]

The Dark Knight Rises trailer

The first trailer for The Dark Knight Rises hit the interwebs earlier this week and left us a bit... underwhelmed. Maybe it's just me, but don't you want to see Batman in a trailer for a Batman movie? Christopher Nolan's third and final Bat-film introduces Bane (Tom Hardy) and Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) into the mix forcing Batman (Christian Bale) out of retirement eight years after the death of Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart). Marion CotillardJoseph Gordon-LevittGary OldmanMorgan FreemanMichael CaineJuno Temple, and Josh Pence (as a young Ra's al Ghul) also star. The Dark Knight Rises on July 20th.

New Avengers #19

After teasing us on several fronts for months issue #19 delivers on a number of levels. We get the first public appearance of Norman Osborne's new Dark Avengers (although off-panel), Daredevil is finally part of the team, and the first steps to determining whose side Victoria Hand is truly on.

The action is relatively light, but Peter Parker isn't the only one obsessing with the reemergence of Norman Osborn and Jessica Jones shares her fear with Luke Cage that Osborne will make good on his threat to go after their baby.

New Avengers is always a title that works best dealing with the small character-driven moments rather than big epic battles. An exception to this is the truly dreadful scene (that seems to drag on forever) between Squirrel Girl and Daredevil which is incredibly painful to read. The entire sequence feels clumsier than a production of Shakespeare staring Kevin James and Mandy Moore.

It's not the best issue of the title we've seen this year, but the latest issue of the title does have its moments. Worth a look.

[Marvel, $3.99]

Wrath of the Titans trailer

Look, here's a trailer for the sequel to the remake nobody wanted. Yah? Wrath of the Titans looks like a video game inspired by everything from Gears of War to Diablo to Legend come to some semblance of life, but at least it's original (oh, wait, no its not). The plot of the movie involves Perseus (Sam Worthington) attempting to rescue Zeus (Liam Neeson) from Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and Ares (Édgar Ramírez). Bill NighyRosamund PikeDanny Huston, and Toby Kebbell also star. Wrath of the Titans hits theaters on March 30th.

The Adventures of Tintin

For his first dabble in the world of animation director Steven Spielberg decided to adapt the Belgian comic of Hergé which center around a young reporter out to discover the truth by unraveling a mystery often by relying on his wits and the help of his dog, Snowy.

The film adapts the eleventh title of the series, The Secret of the Unicorn, which begins with Tintin (Jamie Bell) purchasing an old model ship which contains a clue to a mystery involving an alcholic sea captain (Andy Serkis), a mysterious collector (Daniel Craig), a pirate treasure, and an unsolved riddle in three parts.

Although the film lacks the heart you would suspect of a Spielberg project, The Adventures of Tintin does provide a distinct animated style and several impressive chase sequences. In fact, it could be argued the entire film is little more than a collection of these sequences.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I've never read the novels by Stieg Larsson or seen the original Swedish film, so I went into David Fincher's version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (adapted by screenwriter Steven Zaillian) without any preconceptions or foreknowledge of how the events of the plot would unfold. I enjoyed the film as a suspense thriller but I expected more (although I'm unsure if blame should be laid at the feet of the script or the original source material).

We begin not with one tale but two. The first concerns journalist and editor of a small left wing magazine Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig). The film opens with Blomkvist losing a libel case for his pubilshed accusations against billionaire financier Hans-Erik Wennerström (Ulf Friberg). Unwilling to to stay with the magazine and hurt it, and his co-editor and part-time lover (Robin Wright) any further, he finds himself untethered and at a loss as to what to do next.

Midnight in Paris Blu-ray review

The latest from writer/director Woody Allen stars Owen Wilson as a Hollywood screenwriter and struggling novelist who takes a trip to Paris with his fiance (Rachel McAdams) and her parents (Kurt FullerMimi Kennedy). Although he is in love with the city. Gil (Wilson) feels stifled by his conservative in-laws to-be and lacks patience for his fiance's friends, most notably the pedantic Paul (Michael Sheen).

Then one night, while wandering through the city, Gil somehow finds himself transported to the Paris of the early 1900's where he meets a collection of his artist idols including Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll) and his wife Zelda (Alison Pill), Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates), Pablo Picaso (Marcial Di Fonzo Bo), T.S. Elliot (David Lowe), and Cole Porter (Yves Heck). Every night Gil sneaks away, spending time in the Paris of his dreams, discussing art with the greats, and falling more and more for the lovely Adriana (Marion Cotillard).

Atomic Robo and the Ghost of Station X #4 (of 5)

Someone is playing with our robot hero. First they laid a trap for him in space and then shot him down. Only through a dangerous mid-air rescue did out metal friend survive. Robo's pals were able to trace the communication for the attacks to a sub-station controlled by a shadowy government agency known as Majestic 12. And they're not done yet.

Issue #4 opens with Robo and his team under an attack from an army of Majectic 12 operatives complete with helicopters, armored transports, and tanks. Severly outgunned Atomic Robo and his pals spend the first half of the issue on the run before eluding their pursuit long enough to enlist the help of a convoy of truckers - for science!

Thanks to the help of some low tech trucker know-how, Robo is able to trace the signals back to Hashima Island (where Louis and Martin are about to land). With one issue left (enclosed in a giant crate on his way to the island) Atomic Robo will have to save his friends, uncover the truth behind the conspiracy that wants him dead, and save the world. Best of the week.

[Red 5, $3.50]


We all know that in 1908, alongside the Sundance Kid, Butch Cassidy died in Bolivia in 1908. But what if that isn't the case? Several people believe Cassidy survived Bolivia and there are several accounts of his movements decades later.

Blackthorn centers around an elderly Butch Cassidy who has been hiding in Boliva for decades as a horse trader named James Blackthorn (Sam Shepard). As the movie opens Blackthorn has decided to return to the U.S. but an expected encounter with a thief (Eduardo Noriega) in possession of $50,000 puts Cassidy on the path for one final adventure.

The script by Miguel Barros is passable, but nothing special, relying on late twists and old adversaries to spice up a story without much to say. Blackthorn isn't a bad film, but it's far too close in themes and story to the immensely superior Unforgiven.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Leverage - The Boys' Night Out Job

It's not every episode you see Nate (Timothy Hutton) dress up like a priest and punch out a nun. Okay, to be fair Sister Lupe (Sofia Pernas) isn't a real nun and things always get a bit crazy when Hurley (Drew Powell) is in town.

Margin Call

Written and directed by J.C. Chandor, Margin Call is loosely based on the fall of Lehman Brothers, the mortgage bubble busting and the cause of the subprime mortgage crisis. Almost of the movie takes place over a single night as the reality of the situation sinks in on all concerned.

Hours after 80% of his co-workers have been fired, while working on a project begun by his former boss (Stanley Tucci), a young analyst (Zachary Quinto) makes a shocking discovery.

Due to the nature of the mortgage backed securities the firm has been handling recently trading will soon exceed the historical volatility levels used by the firm to calculate risk. In other words, very soon the company's debt will far exceed its assets.

Over the course of an evening the matter is pushed upstairs as a small group must decide whether they allow the company to fail or try to unload the worthless mortgages off on other buyers and firms.

Chuck Versus the Curse

Following the death of Decker (Richard Burgi), Chuck (Zachary Levi), Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski), and Casey (Adam Baldwin) are declared fugitives and the United States Government assigns one of their most ruthless spies, Robyn Cunnings (Rebecca Romijn), to hunt them down.

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, Archie, Dynamite, Image Comics, and others.

This week includes Avengers, Batman, Birds of Prey, Blue Beetle, Captain America, Captain Atom, Cobra, Dark Shadows, Daredevil, Fables, Ghostbusters, Hellblazer, Invincible, Justice League, New Mutants, Nightwing, Planet of the Apes, Red Hood and the Outlaws, Savage Dragon, Supergirl, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Uncanny X-Force, Young Justice, the first issues of The Activity, Formic Wars: Silent Strike, The Immortal: Demon in the Blood, William Shatner Presents: Man O' War, and the final issue of Star Wars: Knight Errant - Deluge.

Enjoy issue #159

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Green Lantern #4

Issue #4 picks up right after the cliffhanger from last months issue. Sinestro's plan to destroy the Yellow Battery by sending Hal Jordan inside of it has failed, but (despite what the final panel might have teased) Hal Jordan does survive.

Both Sinestro and Jordan are jailed separately. Jordan is thrown into isolation until the last of his ring's energy has disapated. Sinestro, after hours of torture from his former followers (whose attempts to remove the green ring prove unfruitful), finds himself caged with survivors of a world who blame him for its destruction.

The issue has some moments including Hal's final construct and his risky (and, as so often the case with the New 52 version of the character) somewhat ill-thought out plan of escape which leaves us with yet another cliffhanger.

It's not a great issue, but it is a step up from last month that leaves us still in the dark what the long term plans for Sinestro's role in the New 52 are to be. Worth a look.

[DC, $2.99]

Burn Notice - Fail Safe

While Michael (Jeffrey Donovan) finds himself with a new assignment for Agent Pearce (Lauren Stamile) heading up a team (Kristanna LokenDean CainCoby Bell) and taking down a spy recruiter (Eric Roberts), Sam (Bruce Campbell) and Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) search for the evidence that will loosen Anson's (Jere Burns) hold over Fi before he can complete his plans to put together the covert organization that burned Michael Weston and launched the series.

Snake Eyes #8

Deep inside Rodrigo Vargas' Albanian compound, Snake Eyes just needs to keep Duke alive long enough for the scientists to find a cure for the Madness Bug. Of course the fact that they're surrounded by two legions of Cobra Vipers and only back-up Snake Eyes has to rely on is Kwinn and a rapidly deteriorating Duke makes things a little more interesting.

The final issue of Madness Bug storyline leaves us with one less potential Cobra Commander candidate and one hell of a body count. Seriously folks, this one gets bloody. Snake Eyes, Duke, and Kwinn waste neither time nor ammunition in mowing down dozens of Cobra troops whose bodies litter the halls of the underground laboratory.

Eventually too far outnumbered the trio resort to a little trickery to make it out alive, and get Duke back home to recuperate once a cure has been discovered. Worth a look.

[IDW, $3.99]

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Person of Interest - Number Crunch

While Detective Carter (Taraji P. Henson) finds herself in the middle of an Internal Affairs investigation Reese (Jim Caviezel) and Finch (Michael Emerson) investigate the numbers of four seemingly unrelated strangers (Melonie DiazHelen CoxeBridget ReganJeremy Beck), the first of whom is already dead.

The All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold #14

Well, they can't all be winners. The latest issue of The All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold isn't horrible, but for a comic that's been consistently entertaining for months a story centered around Ragman and the true meaning of Chanukah is a bit of a misstep.

After helping Blue Beetle take down Crazy Quilt, the Rainbow Raider and Doctor Spectro, Batman heads further into the rougher part of town and helps Ragman stop a plot by a big real estate conglomerate to scare and force the poor out of their homes and buy the property cheap.

Along the way we get a lesson in the true meaning of Chanukah and Ragman's heart grows three sizes (wait, that last part may be from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas).

I know the title is geared towards younger readers, and this is a holiday issue, but it has done a pretty good job not talking down to them and spoon feeding them issues (religious or otherwise), which we get more than our fill of here. Hit-and-Miss.

[DC, $2.99]

The Mentalist - Fugue in Red

An attack while investigating the murder of a firefighter (Joshua Cox) leaves Jane (Simon Baker) in a fugue state with partial amnesia and no memory of his work with the CBI, the death of his wife (Maxine Bahns) and child, or Red John.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Young Adult

Reuniting with writer Diablo Cody, director Jason Reitman's latest is a darkly humorous character study of a woman who has never grown up. In fact, she may be incapable of doing so. We've seen stories like this before where a shallow lead character gets his/her comeuppance and has a last minute change of heart. Thankfully, Young Adult is not that movie.

Cody and Reitman are for more interested in showcasing how people don't change over time than how a singular reality-smashing awakening can transform a character and cause real change. Mavis is a pretty reprehensible self-entitled bitch at the beginning of the film, and a couple of days spent in her hometown doesn't do much to change that fact. Even if she is a bit humbled by events, she's still the same person she's always been.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

I had lukewarm reaction to director Guy Ritchie's first attempt at bringing his version of Sherlock Holmes to the big screen. Although the sequel has many of the same problems (needless slow motion, a far too boyish Holmes, a focus on action over mystery, and, at times, a decidedly Hollywood feel) Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is a definite improvement.

Although the sequel still feels too much like a Guy Ritchie film (and not enough like a Sherlock Holmes tale), the director has reigned himself in the second time around. The mystery surrounding Moriarty (Jared Harris) works far better than the occult nonsense we had to endure in Sherlock Holmes.

On the eve of Watson's (Jude Law) marriage to Mary (Kelly Reilly), Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and Moriarty are locked in a deadly battle that involves weapons of mass destruction (at least for the end of the 19th Century) that can only end in tragedy on the water's edge at Reichenbach Falls.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol begins with a jailbreak and ends with a chase through the streets of Mumbai. In between we get a chase through a sandstorm, an attempt to climb he largest building the world, the looming threat of nuclear war, gadgets and gizmos, a prison escape, and a hell of a lot of fun. The latest entry into the Mission: Impossible franchise is not only great summer popcorn movie fare (in December, no less!), it has the feel of the original television show as well.

Our story begins when Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is broken out of Russian prison by the IMF and given a new team (Paula PattonSimon Pegg). Together, if they chose to accept it, they are assigned to break into the Kremlin to find information about a Russian terrorist known only as Cobalt (Michael Nyqvist) who plans to start a nuclear war between the United States and Russia.

Psych - Neil Simon's Lover's Retreat

Psych's mid-season finale finds Shawn (James Roday) and Juliet's (Maggie Lawson) weekend getaway hijacked by a charming couple (Jason PriestleyJennifer Finnigan) who rob them, a real sad sack (Tony Hale) in way over his head, and the discovery of a murder victim at a nearby winery.

Nazi Frankenstein Monkeys...

...never know when to quit.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Glee - Extraordinary Merry Christmas

Glee wastes no time getting to the music in their latest Christmas episode as "Extraordinary Merry Christmas" opens up with Mercedes' (Amber Riley) performance of Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You," followed quickly by Rory's (Damian McGinty) performance of Elvis Presley's "Blue Christmas."

G.I. JOE: Retaliation trailer

The first trailer for G.I. JOE: Retaliation has hit the Internet and I've got to say, despite a cool looking sequence between Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and Cobra ninjas on the side of the mountain, it doesn't look much better than the supremely awful 2009 movie. In the new film the JOEs become renegades when Zartan (Arnold Vosloo), under the guise of the President of the United States (Jonathan Pryce) disbands the team and makes them public enemy number one. Channing TatumDwayne JohnsonAdrianne PalickiRay Stevenson,  Bruce Willis, and D.J. Cotrona also star, but  Christopher Eccleston, Sienna MillerJoseph Gordon-Levitt, Karolina Kurkova, and (surprisingly, as she was one of the first film's only bright spots) Rachel Nichols won't be returning. G.I. JOE: Retaliation opens in theaters on July 29th.

Stormwatch #4 (New 52)

The first story arc for the New 52 version of Stormwatch comes to an end as the Midnighter and Apollo are all that stand in the the way of the giant alien creature who has absorbed their other teammates.

Although there's plenty of action here, the writing by Paul Cornell struggles at times. We get more of Jack Hawksmoor literally talking to cities, the complete uselessness of Adam One, the lack of appearances of any other DC character with a threat this huge and public, and some very unsubtle stirrings between Midnighter and Apollo.

One of these issues might be taken care of in next month's issue as the Shadow Cabinet puts the team leader on trial for his failures, but the rest really need to be addressed if the comic is going to ever grow into anything more than a curiosity.

Rock of Ages trailer

The first trailer for the big screen adaptation of Rock of Ages has hit the interwebs, and oh my, does it look campy. The film follows a young couple (Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta) in love chasing their dreams in the big city. Tom CruiseMalin AkermanCatherine Zeta-JonesAlec BaldwinPaul GiamattiRussell Brand, Mary J. Blige and also star. The music from is taken from a host of 80's bands including StyxJourneyBon JoviPat BenatarTwisted SisterSteve Perry,Poison and Asia. Rock of Ages opens in theaters on June 1st.

Voltron #1

Save me from re-imagined versions of classic characters. I don't know what exactly I was hoping from Dynamite Entertainment's new Voltron, but I guess having it make sense, have at least an once of joy, and not screw up the franchise was simply too much to ask.

In the original cartoon five pilots each fly a giant robot lion. The cartoon is set in undetermined future around the planet Arus which must be defended by evil King Zarkon (from planet Doom). When in dire straits the five lions could be joined to form the universe's greatest weapon - Voltron.

The new version turns the plucky team into commandos (lacking any of the goofy humor from the cartoon), places them on Earth, in the year 2124, makes Zarkov an Earth scientist who may (or may not) have been involved in the creation of Voltron, and allows Voltron to fight the giant monster of the week without any of the team members actually being inside the robot.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hawaii Five-0 - Alaheo Pau'ole

"You've been hanging with McGarrett too long."

While the team makes final preparations for Chin's (Daniel Dae Kim) wedding they're called in to investigate the discovery by neighborhood kids of a comatose victim in an underground bunker. Things get a little more complicated when their investigation intersects with Captain Fryer's (Tom Sizemore) case.

Men in Black III trailer

Okay, I have zero interest in the revival of the Men in Black franchise but this trailer does end with an inspired bit of casting for a young Agent K that makes it worth sharing with you. Will Smith and return as Agents J and K in a plot which not only involves aliens this time, but time travel as well. Alice EveEmma ThompsonBill HaderNicole Scherzinger and Rip Torn also star. Men in Black III hits theaters May 25th.

Moon Knight #8

With Count Nefaria now exposed as the kingpin of Los Angeles, and Snapdragon now in police custody, Moon Knight and Echo continue their partnership by attacking several of Nefaria's illegal ventures and businesses.

Moon Knight's team becomes a little more realized here as Echo meets Buck and signs up for more action, and Moon Knight enlists the help of a reluctant Los Angeles police detective who is stymied by his captain when he offers up evidence of Nefaria's illegal activities on a silver platter.

Moon Knight and Echo's dialogue is the highlight of the issue, but there are some other moments worth mention including Marc Spector's surreal conversation with his assistant why the werewolves in his TV-show can't look more real, and Detective Hall's immediate reluctance to help a vigilante. Best of the week.

[Marvel, $3.99]

The Planet of the Apes Rise on DVD

Forget Marky Mark and Tim Burton's attempt to breathe new life into the Planet of the Apes franchise. The new film from director Rupert Wyatt is centered on the beginnings of the Planet of the Apes by focusing on a single scientist (James Franco) and his obsession with stopping the advancement of Alzheimer's in his father (John Lithgow).

Will Rodman's (Franco) experiments lead him into genetic manipulation of chimpanzees, but a violent outburst in a single subject in front of investors leads to the entire project being shelved. Unwilling to let his work die, Will saves a single chimp and continues his work privately.

Caesar (Andy Serkis) quickly shows the treatments are working by displaying enhanced intellect and cognitive abilities, but an angry outburst with a neighbor separates him from Will and Caroline (Freida Pinto), and Caesar must learn to adapt in a world of caged apes. Here he becomes the leader of a monkey rebellion. (Trust me, its not as ridiculous as it sounds.)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Leverage - The Girls' Night Out Job

In the latest episodes of Leverage the team splits into two groups as the ladies and gents both have themselves one crazy night. This week's episode, "The Girls' Night Out Job," showcases the ladies' adventure involving a thief, an old friend (Jeri Ryan), an embassy party, and an explosive finale. Next week, "The Boys' Night Out Job" will give us the skinny on what trouble the guys get into when another old friend (Drew Powell) returns.