Monday, January 31, 2011

Darth Vader and the Lost Command #1

Set shortly after the events of Revenge of the Sith, this new mini-series sends Darth Vader on a mission into the mysterious "Ghost Nebula" to track down a missing Star Destroyer commanded by the son of Moff Tarkin.

In this first issue writer Haden Blackman gives us a glimpse into the mind, dreams, and regrets of the man who was once Anakin Skywalker as well as his growing pains at assuming his new role as the Emperor's right hand. One interesting note here is the early scene suggesting Vader's mechanical limbs take far more (painful) maintanace than has previously been suggested.

The early scenes work well and as does the last half when the comic shifts into full-on action mode as Vader's troops attack the planet of Atoa. The feel of everything is right here, even if the Atoans themselves are a bit disappointing - although we do get a glimpse of something more in the final page. Worth a look.

[Dark Horse $3.50]

Mr. Wizard's World

Check out this skit from this weekend's SNL featuring Jesse Eisenberg which teaches us why "Science is fun."

Mister Wizard

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 Batman Beyond, Black Terror, Gotham City Sirens, Hulk, Invincible, Irredeemable, I Zombie, Last Phantom, Secret Six, Sonic the Hedgehog, Spider-Girl, Warriors Three, the first issues of Daomu, DC Universe Online Legends, Deadpool & Cable, H2O, The Stand: No Mans Land, Ultimate Comics Captain America, Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever, and the final issues of Bomb Queen VI, Hellboy: The Sleeping and the Dead, Kane and Lynch, She-Hulks, Thor: For Asgard, Ultimate Comics New Ultimates, and Ultimate Comics Thor.

Enjoy issue #113

Friday, January 28, 2011

Fantastic Four #587

The second to last issue of this incarnation of the Fantastic Four (Marvel plans to relaunch the title as FF) is a pretty good indication why it's time to close the book on these characters. This isn't a bad comic, but, for almost all of the issue, it misses the point.

The Fantastic Four aren't the Avengers, they aren't the Defenders, and they aren't the Guardians of the Galaxy. They're family, and the characters work best when their comic focuses not on the latest galactic threat but the interactions between its four main characters.

Issue #587 splits the team up into three separate tales. Reed Richards tries to save the inhabitants of a doomed world from Galactus (in what might be his most boring cameo in any Marvel book, ever), Sue Storm attempts to broker peace between Namor and the tribes of Old Atlantis, and Ben and Johnny try to save the Reed children, and the rest of the world, from an Annihilus Wave attempting to break through from the Negative Zone.

The first two stories are largely forgettable (even with Sue's unexpected coronation as Queen of the Mer-People), but the third delivers a small glimmer of what the Fantastic Four should be - exciting, tragic, adventurous, and deeply personal. It also dramatically kills off one of the main characters to save the rest of the family. And that story is worth a look. Too bad the rest is little more than filler.

[Marvel $3.99]

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Reason #36 Why I Love DS9 - Blood Oath

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

Reason #36: "Blood Oath"

Never try to clone dogs...

...dogs are weird.

Come with Doom if you want to live

Supergirl #60

As someone who works in the social media space I've got to admit I'm intrigued by the first story new writer Nick Spencer chooses to tell. There's no super-villains here, and (thankfully) no extra Kryptonian nonsense. What he does give us however is an idea how to use Facebook to kill the young heroes of the DCU with the willing help of the unsuspecting public.

Our baddie, whose name is never mentioned (unless I missed it), creates an open source Facebook app so people can immediately share sightings of super-heroes. Sounds great, right? Its real purpose is much more nefarious. Knowing their location leaves the heroes vulnerable to sneak attacks by groups of heavy-hitting super-villains (like the one Supergirl runs into here) ready to take out the heroes - for good.

I've got to admit I'm intrigued by the idea, and like that the app was created to look innocuous with a hidden purpose rather than stolen and later corrupted. The following issues promise all kinds of guest-stars as this on-going storyline unfolds.

It wouldn't be a Supergirl comic however if it didn't have a few issues. The B-story which concerns a whistle-blower in Cadmus and Lois Lane is far less satisfying. And it's conclusion (involving the cold blooded murder of child), inter-cut with Supergirl's pummeling by a group from Superman's rogues gallery, is more than a little distasteful.

Even with these issues it's still far better than most of what I've read in the series. And with Batgirl and Damian (YES!) set to guest-star in next month's issue I'm actually (and I can't believe I'm saying this) looking forward to a Supergirl comic. Well played, Mr. Spencer. Now just try and stay away little things like senseless child murder and you might be able to get this title back on the right track.

[DC $2.99]

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Uncanny X-Force #3

For those who haven't been reading this title this is a pretty good place to start. The X-Force team (Wolverine, Psylocke, Deadpool, Archangel, Fantomex) makes their way to the moon to kill a small defenseless child. Why you ask? Well, it turns out that child is the recently resurrected Apocalypse with four brand spankin' new Horsemen to do his bidding.

The story introduces all four of the new Horsemen and lets them wipe the face of the moon with these X-Men. This works well enough, even if it has one major flaw. As "edgy' as Marvel wants us to believe this title is there's no way it's going to let any of these characters kill a defenseless child who isn't even sure what he wants. This means the stakes here are far smaller than Marvel would like us to believe.

Even with this limitation the team itself works well in its own dysfunctional way. And I will give credit to writer Rick Remender for breathing some much needed life and charm back into Psylocke. For at least an issue I actually cared about the character again. Worth a look.

[Marvel $3.99]

Fairly Legal

I've been very pleased with the shows USA Network has put out in recent years. I was a big fan of Monk, and I love Psych, as well as Burn Notice and White Collar. I was impressed with the first season of Covert Affairs, and In Plain Sight has proved to be an engaging drama centered (as most USA shows tend to be) a deeply human, and deeply flawed, central character.

USA's latest, Fairly Legal, revolves around a lawyer turned mediator (played by the lovely and charming Sarah Shahi) who works for the law firm started by her late father and now run by her step-mother (Virginia Williams).

The show's Pilot episode shows promise, if at times it appears a little unfocused. Aside from working two complicated cases Kate (Shahi) also negotiates an armed robbery, has several confrontations with her step-mother and ex-husband (Michael Trucco), blackmails her own client, and deals with the pain of losing her father. That's quite a bit for a single episode, but everything turns out well enough in the end.

It's too early to say whether or not USA has another winner on its hands, but this first taste is definitely enough to make me stick around to find out.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Doctor Who #1

IDW finally brings the Eleventh Doctor to his own monthly comic. The first issue surrounds Rory's misuse of the magic phone aboard the TARDIS which leads to spamming of an epic scale.

Although the set-up is rather silly, writer Tony Lee gets the tone of the characters right including Matt Smith zaniness and his mix of acceptance and incredulity at the situation which includes a magic talking stapler (I kid you not!).

If I have one complaint its the inconsistent art of Andrew Currie where Amy Pond is concerned. The Doctor, Rory, and the various aliens and spam creations come off well, but the quality of Amy seems to vary wildly over the course of the comic.

As first issues goes it's certainly a bit of fluff, but it's entertaining enough for Who fans to pick up. It's not going to bowl you over, or compare with the best of Series Five, but it just may help tide you over until Doctor Who returns to the airwaves this Spring.

[IDW $3.99]

White Collar - Burke's Seven

White Collar returned last week with a strong mid-season opener which answered several questions (such as what happened to Mozzie, and who wants the music box) as well as unite several supporting characters to come to Peter's (Tim DeKay) defense after he's framed for a crime which would ruin his entire career.

To help take down the man who shot Mozzie (Willie Garson) and framed Peter, Burke and McCaffrey (Matthew Bomer) put together a little team to run a con on one of the deadliest assassins in the world (Paul Blackthorne). The episode provides some laughs, returns Hilarie Burton as sultry insurance investigator Sara Ellis, and finally gives us the first real clue to the music box and the man behind Neal Caffrey's nightmare.

I've missed this show while it's been off the air, and it's first episode back certainly doesn't disappoint. I'm looking forward to the rest of Season Two.

Power Girl #20

Power Girl fights her way through the new Cadmus research facility, battling all manner of genetically enhanced monsters, looking for answers to who had her cloned and why. What she finds are two old friends.

Maxwell Lord makes another appearance, stopping Power Girl's rampage and putting her on a collision course with the Justice League International to seek revenge after Captain Atom's apparanent murder of Magogg (which was also staged by Lord).

However, it's the appearance of another Superman supporting character that's the real surprise. I'm not the biggest Krypto fan out there, but I've got to admit this is a pretty good moment - as is Maxwell Lord's reaction to seeing the clone.

Those looking to see Power Girl do what she does best (kick some serious ass) will get exactly that here, along with a quick cameo from Batman and the reappearance of a Kryptonian's best friend. Worth a look.

[DC $2.99]

Monday, January 24, 2011

Darkwing Duck #8

The conclusion of "The Crisis on Infinite Darkwings" is as crazy as it sounds as various versions of Darkwing Duck from every different parallel world (my favorite might be The Doctor Darkwing) band together to stop the "uber evil" of Paddyquack and the giant version of Negaduck from destroying St. Canard.

Taken from film, television, comics, and even (gasp!) classic literature, there's a variety Darkwings adding the zaniness paying homage to everything from The Wizard of Oz to Davy Crockett. And, in true Darkwing style, all of his city saving antics only bring more people to distrust his intentions. I'm a little disappointed with the apparent end of Gosalyn's adventures in the Gizmoduck armor as "Gosmoduck," but that's really my only complaint.

Crazy fun all around, and once again the comic delivers with yet another very cool old school Batman-inspired variant cover (this one by Diego Jourdan).

[Boom $3.99]

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, IDW, Image Comics, and others.

This week includes Action Comics, American Vampire, Angel, Avengers, Captain America, Deadpool, Detective Comics, Green Arrow, Guarding the Globe, Incorruptible, Jughead, New Avengers, Red Sonja, Scalped, Secret Warriors, Spawn, Teen Titans, X-Men, Zatanna, the first issues of Age Of X: Alpha, Infestation, New York Five, Speaker for the Dead, Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Lost Command, and the final issues of Chaos War, Transformers: Prime, Ultimate Comics Avengers 3, and X-Men Forever 2.

Enjoy issue #112

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Batman #706

Sensei has abducted Lucius Fox and his daughter with the hopes of prying the secrets of a brotherhood his father once belonged. Meanwhile Batman and Robin find themselves sidetracked by a sneak attack by the Riddler and his daughter Enigma.

There's much to like here, but one thing which troubles me. The entire issue is jam-packed with as many periphery Bat-characters as could easily fit into one story (each with their own introduction) including those mentioned above as well as Catwoman, Catgirl, I-Ching, Peacock, and Reaper. The entire issue feels like an attempt to create a new jumping-in point for those who haven't been reading the title. The problem is this is part-three of an on-going storyline. So why this attempt works, it feels a bit awkward.

The story itself works pretty well as the various stories hint without giving too much away. Filled with action, this actually is a mystery story (in several different ways) for Batman to solve. It's also nice to see Grayson's detective skills highlighted. Worth a look.

[DC $2.99]

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Love Car Displacement

Last night's episode of The Big Bang Theory found Leonard (Johnny Galecki), Sheldon (Jim Parsons), Penny (Kaley Cuoco), Raj (Kunal Nayyar), Howard (Simon Helberg), Bernadette (Melissa Rauch), and Amy Farrah Fowler (Mayim Bialik) all on the road to a science symposium at an exclusive spa.

Although Sheldon's "leadership" causes problems for the group in the planning and driving to the hotel, the real fun begins that night when misunderstandings and bed jumping lead to a weary panel discussion the next morning as the group airs its dirty laundry in front of the audience.

Although I enjoy the show, I will admit from time to time it can coast on the strength of its cast with some forgettable plotlines. "The Love Car Displacement," however, does anything but. This is one of the show's best episodes this season, one where every character gets their moment, and the insanity slowly rises and then boils over with big laughs. The panel scene alone makes it must-see.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Harry's Law

David E. Kelley returns to television with yet another show about crazy lawyers. The brain behind Boston Legal, The Practice, and Ally McBeal gives us a talented but disgruntled patent lawyer who finds new life by starting a criminal practice run out of a shoe store in the worst part of town.

Kathy Bates stars as Harriet "Harry" Korn who is fired from her lucrative practice and decides to go into business for herself. Though not as good as the recent Eli Stone, Harry's Law relies quite a bit on coincidence and fate to set up the initial plot lines of the series. Harry's first client is a man (Aml Ameen) who jumped off a roof and landed on her, and her junior associate (Nathan Corddry) ran her over with his car. Brittany Snow also has a small role as Harry's secretary who spends as much time selling the remaining shoes from the previous owners as she does helping out her boss.

Kelley's latest show is full of the kinds of antics and oddball characters fans have come to expect, but something here just feels off. The cast is solid, and Bates makes an intriguing central character, but Coddry's antics in the courtroom are a far cry from the brilliance of John Cage, and Snow, at least so far, is mostly wasted in a rather thankless role.

It may just be the rough edges of a Pilot episode, but Harry's Law feels a little too forced and not nearly as fun as it should. Maybe Kelley is losing his touch. Although I enjoyed William Shatner in Boston Legal, I felt the show itself was a pale shadow of the glorious insanity of Ally McBeal. And, at least so far, Harry's Law is no Boston Legal.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Batgirl #17

Batgirl and Robin, together again. YES! I just love Stephanie and Damian together.

The pair team-up to solve a case of missing children which leads Damian to go undercover as a regular kid (much to the delight of Batgirl). We get the regular barbs between the two on a fire escape in front of a low level thug, but there's also a nice realization by Batgirl when she sees Damian doesn't know how to be a kid. He doesn't know how to play. Her attempt to remedy this in the comic's final page is priceless.

There's also a good opening dialogue between Damian and Alfred, who Damian has come to accept as "an adequate servant," and the random panel of Stephanie's dream mumblings about killing Abraham Lincoln. Throw in a high speed chase involving a school bus, which Damian stabs (successfully) and attempts to drive (a little less successfully), and you've got everything you need for a great read!

[DC $2.99]

Catwoman and Bane ready to help the Dark Knight rise

Holy Meh, Batman! Catwoman has been cast in Chris Nolan's upcoming The Dark Knight Rises. And the actress chosen to play her is... Anne Hathaway? Let me say that again, Catwoman will be played by Anne Hathaway? Hrm. Also announced today is the role Tom Hardy has been cast to play: Bane. I find both of these choices troubling. Although Hathaway is a great actress, she's certainly not my idea of Selina Kyle. And Bane's involvement is also troubling since Nolan can't use Knightfall to set him up as a credible threat (as you would have to use the entire Batman rogues gallery - most of whom haven't been introduced yet). There's still no word on who will play the expected role of Talia al Ghul, but you can check out the full press release below.


BURBANK, CA, January 19, 2011 – Warner Bros. Pictures announced today that Anne Hathaway has been cast as Selina Kyle in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises.” She will be starring alongside Christian Bale, who returns in the title role of Bruce Wayne/Batman.

Christopher Nolan stated, “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Anne Hathaway, who will be a fantastic addition to our ensemble as we complete our story.”

In addition, Tom Hardy has been set to play Bane. Nolan said, “I am delighted to be working with Tom again and excited to watch him bring to life our new interpretation of one of Batman’s most formidable enemies.”

Nolan will direct the film from a screenplay he wrote with Jonathan Nolan, from a story by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer. Nolan will also produce the film with his longtime producing partner, Emma Thomas, and Charles Roven.

“The Dark Knight Rises” is slated for release on July 20, 2012. The film will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

The Thanos Imperative: Devastation

Following the events of The Thanos Imperative the Guardians of the Galaxy are no more. Phaya-Vell and Gamora were killed, Star Lord and Nova sacrificed themselves to stop Thanos, and Adam Warlock and Drax are both dead (again).

This leaves the rest of the team scattered and Cosmo to fulfill Star-Lord's final request: put together a new team of "absolute badasses" and "annihilators." This one-shot follows Cosmo on his quest to gather the Silver Surfer, Beta Ray Bill, Quasar, Ronan, and Gladiator to stop Blaastar's attack on the Inhuman/Kree capital of Attilan and agree to band together to save the universe from whatever next big threat emerges.

Cosmo's discussions with each of the reluctant warriors are well done. My favorite is the short scene with the cosmic telepathic dog taking a ride with the Silver Surfer on his board.

The new series, The Annihilators, is also set to return two former Guardians in their own adventures - Rocket Raccoon and Groot. As to what will happen to the rest of the Guardians, we'll just have to wait and see. Worth a look.

[Marvel $3.99]

Chuck Vs. the Balcony

After a brief winter hiatus Chuck returned with our favorite underachieving geek turned spy looking for the perfect scenario to propose to Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski). The mission to recover the microchip gives us several fun moments including a late twist foreshadowed earlier in a conversation between Sarah and Gen. Beckman (Bonita Friedericy), Sarah pretending to be drunk, and Morgan and Chuck's (Zachary Levi) homage to The Court Jester as Chuck frantically searches for a "peppery pinot with a stable on the label on the cork."

Aside from Morgan's role as matchmaker there's also a terribly sweet moment where he gives Sarah his permission to marry his best friend as well as an uncharacteristically human moment between Casey (Adam Baldwin) and Chuck about what a proposal is really about. Chuck and Morgan's floundering attempts to find the perfect proposal are saved by Sarah who takes control of the situation, at least until... well, I don't want to spoil it if you haven't watched yet.

The episode's B-story involves Lester's (Vik Sahay) attempts to avoid and then woo the woman his parents have set up an arranged marriage. It's the weakest part of the episode does supply some laughs as well as the return of Jeffster! performing Whitesnake's "Is This Love."

Needless to say, this is one of the season's best episodes with our characters surrounded by danger, intrigue and the beautiful French countryside. The final few moments also mark an important shift in the season arc meaning we should soon be seeing the return of both Linda Hamilton and Timothy Dalton.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Amazing Spider-Man #651

You know what? It's nice for Spider-Man to be fun again. The latest issue finds Spidey and the Black Cat breaking into the Kingpin's tower after the stolen Reverbium.

Spidey's sporting his new stealth suit (something I'm still on the fence about) and the Black Cat is sporting her trademark teammate skills as the two find their secret mission discovered before it even starts when the Kingpin and the new Hobgoblin give the heroes a rather chilly reception.

I've really only got minor complaints here such as the length of time Fisk toys with the Black Cat without doing her any real harm (something which could have been fixed by reorganizing the panels a bit). I do like Phil Urich as the new Hobgoblin and the dark mirrored take with him selling footage of his other persona for his job at the Daily Bugle. There's also a nice moment with Carlie when Parker realizes how naked he feels with all his Spidey stuff stored at his new job instead of his apartment.

The issue also includes a short Scorpion story tacked onto the end of the issue. I'm okay with Mac Gargan taking back the name, but I'm not sure I like the HYDRA looking design of the new suit, and I'm sure I hate the issues final couple of pages where the new Scorpion army is revealed. Ugh.

[Marvel $3.99]

Birds of Prey #8

Is that a little Batman mixed in with the Birds of Prey? I think it is!

There's actually quite a lot to like about this issue including Oracle's inner monologue about having Bruce help her team and Black Canary's reaction (including a sly smile) at seeing "the" Batman back in action.

The entire issue centers around the Calculator's goons trying to locate Oracle. There's also a far less satisfying B-story of Hawk checking up on the Penguin. Everything works fine... until Oracle puts everyone in danger by inexplicably asking Batman to take a dive (which he does?) thus putting her entire team in real jeopardy.

The finally few pages really seem to drop the ball on what was a very fun, engaging story filled with ample amounts of action and internal monologue. It's still worth a look but ends on a rather disappointing note.

[DC $2.99]


Odds are you missed Stone in theaters. And, sadly, odds are you're going to want to pass it up on DVD and Blu-ray as well.

The film focuses on retiring parole officer Jack Mabry (Robert De Niro) and one of his last assignments - an incarcerated arsonist named Stone (Edward Norton). What follows is a twisted tale of Jack being seduced by Stone's wife (Milla Jovovich) in order to help facilitate his release.

Stone is a bit of a mess. It has its moments, including a strong opening which sets up the personality of De Niro's character, and several interesting pieces, but the script by Angus MacLachlan never puts the whole story together in an engaging or believable way.

The most troubling aspect is that the movie can never quite decide how smart the title character is supposed to be. At times (even in scenes alone with his wife) he seems just dimwitted and desperate enough to offer up his wife to Mabry in this last ditch effort at early release.

However, at other points in the film he seems much more manipulative and far more in control of the situation. Just as troubling is how much of Lucetta's (Jovovich) antics we're supposed to take at face value. If the actress doesn't seem to know how much of the role is a con and how much is real, how are we to decide for ourselves?

Neither the DVD nor Blu-ray adds anything new to add other than the trailer and a short behind the scenes featurette in terms of extras. There's simply not enough here to recommend. Unless you happen to come across it late one night with nothing better to do, I'd leave this Stone unturned.

Monday, January 17, 2011

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, IDW, Image Comics, and others.

This week includes Batman, Conan: Road of Kings, Darkwing Duck, Dungeons & Dragons, Deadpool MAX, Fear Agent, Hellblazer, Power Girl, Queen Sonja, The Spirit, Thor, Transformers: Prime, the first issues of Doctor Who, Mass Effect: Evolution, Memoir, Wolverine and Jubilee, and the final issues of Avengers vs. Pet Avengers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, Ides Of Blood, Thor: First Thunder, Transformers: Sector 7. All that plus the 500th issue of Invincible Iron Man.

Enjoy issue #111

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Green Hornet for Dummies

Director Michel Gondry and star/co-writer Seth Rogen set out to do their version of the Green Hornet. They've succeeded. This is unlike any Green Hornet I've seen, and probably as far removed from my idea of who these characters are as could be done and still title the film The Green Hornet. In fact, the main character is so unrecognizable you have to wonder why even use the Green Hornet characters instead of simply making an original film.

The Green Hornet debuted on radio in the 1930's alongside other popular programs such as The Lone Ranger and The Shadow. Since then the character has bounced around comics, low budget movie serials, and, most notably, the 60's television show starring Van Williams and Bruce Lee.

Seth Rogen's dumbed-down concept of the character has a few key differences to what's come before. Britt Reid (Rogen) is no longer the brilliant media mogul taking on the underworld. In Rogen's version he's a spoiled rich kid who has squandered his life and is faced with the insurmountable task of taking on his father's (Tom Wilkinson) newspaper after his death. The whole fighting crime thing is more a drunken brainstorm than any sense of responsibility or wish for justice.

Rogen's Reid is, to put it kindly, a horse's ass. Rogen loves unlikable characters and his script pulls no punches in making him nearly impossible to root for. Reid is a loser, without charm, skills, or brains, who has been handed everything he's whole life - including his new late night career which is made possible by the guy (Jay Chou) who makes his coffee in the morning and turns out to be a genius mechanic and martial arts expert (also possibly a Terminator).

Cameron Diaz has a small but thankless role in the movie as Reid's new secretary who proves to be the brains of the Green Hornet without realizing it. She spends most of the movie deflecting the unwanted advances from both her clueless boss and his executive assistant.

The most entertaining characters of the movie turn out to be the villains. Christoph Waltz steals the movie as the old school crime boss who's not ready for the pop culture digital age. There are also a couple clever cameos by Edward Furlong and James Franco as other gangsters.

I've spent quite a bit of time telling you what's wrong with the movie, but that doesn't mean there aren't positives to take away. The film is fun, and at times entertaining. There are several big laughs (my favorite centering around the Hornet's gas gun), and one impressive action sequence involving the Black Beauty which occurs during the film's climax. And the 3D, though not great, does enhance the film. As a dumb action flick I've certainly seen far worse.

And this version of The Green Hornet is dumb, almost offensively so. There's even a moment where the movie stops for several moments and spells out the entire plot to any member of the audience that's given up caring by that point. However, like much of the movie, the bit is saved by an amusing joke at the end. There are plenty of cheap yucks to be had at the expense of our dimwitted protagonists and several trademark touches by Gondry to spice up a rather uninspired plot.

For a character like The Green Hornet just getting on film is something of a success, I just wish the hero was a little more recognizable and the film didn't feel so much like a throwaway Rogen comedy given a huge budget for special effects. Much like Frank Miller's The Spirit, this feels like a big budget B-movie misstep not quite as good as The Shadow or The Phantom.

Those without any emotional tie to the character, and who enjoy Will Ferrell style comedies (which this definitely feels like), may enjoy the film more than I did. Even with my issues, I'm glad I saw this version of The Green Hornet. I'm just not sure I ever need to see it again.

Rabbit Hole

Is there anything worse than the loss of a child? Adapted from his play, writer David Lindsay-Abaire gives us the tale of a couple struggling with the death of their young son Danny (Phoenix List) eight months after his death.

On the outside the lives of Howie (Aaron Eckhart) and Becca (Nicole Kidman) seem normal enough. But we can tell something is wrong. We slowly realize there is a missing member of this family whose absence is not only felt in every frame but is slowly destroying the couple from within.

For 90 minutes we follow Howie and Becca through their pain, various coping techniques, and watch each of them struggle with their inability to move beyond such a devastating loss. Director John Cameron Mitchell's film is not a fun hour-and-a-half by any means. This version of Lindsay-Abaire's play is full of raw emotion just under (and often boiling over) the surface.

The crux of the movie is how each of the characters reacts to Danny's death in different ways, and how as a couple they aren't able to deal with the issue together. Becca's response is to push away painful memories by giving away her son's clothes, looking to remove his traces from their home, and even expressing a desire to sell the house. In contrast, Howie becomes lost in old videos of Danny and grows increasing angry and resentful of what he sees as his wife's callous reaction to his death.

Both Eckhart and Kidman are terrific and balancing the various emotions each needs to bring to the surface at any time. It's also an interesting choice to go somewhat against type by making the mother the more logical of the pair, and the one attempting to bury the feelings that threaten to crush her.

With the couple's relationship so strained, we learn much more about each of them in their interactions with others than with themselves. These scenes include the couple attending a support group for parents who have lost their children, Howie's flirtatious friendship with another member of the group (Sandra Oh), and Becca's odd friendship with the young teen (Miles Teller) involved in the accident that took their son.

There are several small roles of note in the film but the two that stand out are Tellar as the awkward teen weighed down by both guilt and confusion over Becca's offer of friendship, and Dianne Wiest as Becca's mother who can't find the right words to comfort her daughter. Tammy Blanchard also has a small role as Becca's irresponsible younger sister whose pregnancy is a bittersweet reminder of what she's lost.

Rabbit Hole isn't a pleasant film to watch, and there a couple of troubling scenes involving Eckhart's character getting high with Sandra Oh in the one piece of the film where it seems to get off-track. But for the most part the film sticks to its unflinching look at two people in people in a tremendous amount of pain. You don't want to spend more than 91 minutes with these people, but for that amount of time Rabbit Hole delivers a strong story about grief and loss which is filled with powerful performances by its cast.

Casino Jack

Jack Abramoff was a greedy prick. That's really the only message Casino Jack has. If you were expecting anything more from this political biopic by director George Hickenlooper and screenwriter Norman Snider you're bound to leave disappointed.

Kevin Spacey stars as the Washington D.C. super-lobbyist who became a household name working for Preston Gates & Ellis and Greenberg Traurig and a director of the National Center for Public Policy Research. The film gives us a look into Abramoff's rise to prominence and the personal flaws and series of events which led to his conviction on charges of embezzlement, fraud, and corruption.

The script is never quite sure what to do with this charismatic character who has dreams of helping the world while robbing his defrauding of Native American tribes and lining his own pockets with gold. It's certainly a meaty role for Spacey, but the film gives us no reason to root either for or against this deeply flawed individual addicted to both money and power.

Facing financial crisis and given the opportunity to make some real money, Abramoff and his protege (Barry Pepper) devise a plan to bilk their Native American clients and use the money to buy SunCruz Casinos from shady businessman Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis (Daniel Kash) with the help of a sleazy mattress salesman (Jon Lovitz).

When the film stays in the world of politics and the behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing it works well enough. As it journeys into the realm of Abramoff's greed and ambition and the affairs of his partner that land them in hot water, it struggles. In the end what we're left with is a smart, sad man who never takes responsibility for his actions. You've seen this story before and Casino Jack doesn't bring anything new to the table.

The most troubling aspect about the film is also it's greatest strength - Kevin Spacey's performance. The entire movie is centered around a juicy role that Spacey greedily sinks his teeth into at the expense of other characters, plot, suspense, or good storytelling. From the opening monologue to the dream sequence as Abramoff testifies in Congress, every frame is centered around the idea of making a mediocre film surrounding a very strong performance. When people refer to "Oscar-bait" Casino Jack is the kind of movie they're talking about.

Those interested in Abramoff aren't going to learn anything new here. And those with little to no knowledge of the lobbyist may find the story a bit dull. For a movie about a guy who bilked his own clients out of millions, got into bed with gangsters, and went to jail, you would expect Casino Jack to be more compelling. Too bad it's not.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Reason #20 Why I Love DS9 - Our Man Bashir

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

Reason #20: "Our Man Bashir"

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Batman Beyond #1

Due to the recent success of the latest Batman Beyond mini-series, Terry McGinnis and friends get a new series starting here. Although there's nothing all that special about this story (especially as a first issue launching a new title) there are several interesting notes worth talking about.

The first is the choice to launch a new title rather than simply continue the numbering from the recent mini-series. This volume picks up shortly after the events from the "Hush" storyline (which is referred to) so you'd think the more natural choice would be to continue the previous series rather than launch a brand new one.

There's also the choice of using a brand-new villain, one who steals the (not particularly well-guarded) weapon of a former super-villain to cause mayhem with the new found ability to transmute people and objects into metal. As Bat-villains go this guy ranks pretty far down the list.

The final note is the curious use of action words in the style of the old Batman tv-series (THOOM, KA-KROOM, BOOFF). It's not a bad choice but it does feel slightly out of place - unless this is a style which will be used going forward throughout the series.

That's not to say everything's bad here. The opening fight between Batman and the new Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum is fun, as are Terry's interactions with his girlfriend and his family. I love the scene over the phone between MGinnis and his little brother.

One thing the issue does well is show-off it's main star, letting those unfamiliar with him get to know Terry McGinnis. The issue also includes an appearance by the future version of the Justice League. It will be interesting to see how big a role they play in the new series.

[DC $2.99]

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Avengers #8

For both good and ill the latest issue of Avengers is set up to allow our heroes to get caught up on the events of the previous issue. The Illuminati come back together to discover not one but two of the Infinity Gems they split among themselves have been stolen.

The conversations between the characters work well, but the story itself lacks some punch. The only action sequence we get is a flashback to Parker Robbins beating the snot out of the Red Hulk. Speaking of Parker Robbins, am I the only one who finds it strange (pardon the pun) that Dr. Strange can't mystically identify the identity of the villain putting the stones back together again?

The issue's final panel sets up what looks like more retreading of the same points as Steve Rogers shows up to find out what Tony Stark and his friends are hiding. That initial conflict should be interesting, but I hope we'll get some real advancement of the plot as well.

This is actually an issue you could easily skip and not miss any big developments in the story arc. That said, it's still worth a look for the interactions between the Illuminati, but it's far from a must-read.

[Marvel $3.99]

Monday, January 10, 2011

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, Vertigo, Image Comics, and others.

This week includes Batgirl, Batman and Robin, Birds of Prey, Black Panther: The Man Without Fear, Booster Gold, Deadpool, Green Lantern Emerald Warriors, Halcyon, Incredible Hulks, Justice League: Generation Lost, Let Me In: Crossroads, Marvel Adventures Super Heroes, Northlanders, Red Robin, Savage Dragon, Stan Lee’s Starborn, Superman, Titans, Walking Dead Weekly, the first issues of B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth: Gods, Casanova: Gula, The Infinite Vacation, and the final issue of I Am An Avenger.

Enjoy issue #110

Sunday, January 9, 2011

D.C. Cab

A recent post over on Cave of Cool made me search around to find my old review of that cinematic gem D.C. Cab which gave us the following philosophy:

“Don’t let your dick run your life.”

“You have faith in God.  You have faith in your country.  You do not have faith in The Eight Stooges!”

“Why are women so uptight?  They’ve got half the money and all the pussy.”

After the death of his father, young Albert Hockenberry (Adam Baldwin) moves to Washington D.C. to stay with his dad’s Vietnam buddy (Max Gail) who owns his own cab company.

Albert decides he likes the life, despite the odd characters (Mr. T, Gary Busey, Bill Maher, Marsha Warfield, the Barbarian Brothers, Charlie Barnett, Paul Rodriguez) who work there, and decides he wants to be a cab driver.  Things get complicated when Albert falls in love with a girl he can’t have (Jill Schoelen) and a kidnapping he gets mixed-up in, but everything works out fine in the end.

Let’s get this straight.  D.C. Cab is not a good movie by any rational standard.  It is however an immensely enjoyable trainwreck.  Where else are you going to find a movie where Gary Busey fits in so naturally?  Or where Mr. T pimps out a taxi-cab?  The inmates have control of the asylum from the get-go here, and turns out they know how to have a pretty good time.

The movie is more a series of bits than a full film, and is at its best when the plot, or any type of reason, isn’t allowed to get in the way.  There are several memorable moments including an impromptu stop at a strip club, the search for Bruce Lee, the “run” on the train tracks, the flame-thrower, and a not too shabby 80’s soundtrack.

Mr. T pities the fool who doesn’t get a kick out of D.C. Cab, and I must agree.  It’s a guilty pleasure which is worth a look.  There are bad movies that sometimes can be just as enjoyable as good ones, despite all their issues (or even sometimes because of them), and D.C. Cab fits the bill better than most.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

This is the Blu-ray you've been looking for

We'll still have to wait nine more months, but Star Wars is finally coming to Blu-ray.

Friday, January 7, 2011

All Good Things

Although the film is based on the real events surrounding the life of Robert Durst, the main problem with the screenplay by Marcus Hinchey and Marc Smerling is how ridiculous the events appear when recreated on film.

What starts as a love story and tense drama about a troubled son of a real estate broker devolves into a thriller. Then the thriller turns into the kind of cinematic disaster nobody wants on their resume. All Good Things may be based on a real story but it plays like bad fiction.

There's something off about David Marks (Ryan Gosling) the first time we meet him, but that's not enough to stop the charming Katie (Kirsten Dunst) from falling for him. Needled by his father's (Frank Langella) disapproval David and Katie leave the tranquil health food store in Vermont so David can act as the bagman for the family business collecting cash from various seedy Times Square enterprises which the Marks famly owns.

Tensions begin to rise as Katie suspects there's far more wrong with the man she loves than she ever thought possible. David has a violent temper and his mind at time appears fractured, although the world schizophrenia is never used it's obviously implied. That the film never makes an attempt to adequately diagnosis David's condition, or the reasoning his actions (other than mention the traumatic suicide of his mother), is but one of the film's problems.

Another problem is the movie's attempt to cover 30 years in less than two hours. The script follows the couple from their happy early days to David's violent outbursts and well-past his wife's disappearance and into his life of seclusion. There's simply too much going on here, including David's struggles with his father and work, the police investigation into the Marks family, the corrupt Senator, the hot shot new DA (Diane Venora) out to make a name for herself, and David's trial which presents the story but itself isn't covered. That's quite a bit, and much of it isn't handled with the necessary care the the David/Kate relationship is given.

When Dunst is on camera the film feels grounded, but with her character's disappearance the story moves further and further off the rails introducing multiple murders and even a subplot involving crossdressing. Those who enjoyed Gosling's performance in Lars and the Real Girl know that he's capable of playing a troubled internalized character. Unlike Lars, however, the script can't find a way to let us in to what the character is thinking or feeling (other than his obvious unresolved daddy issues).

There are some strong performances here. Although he's not doing anything new, Gosling performance is solid. Langella, Lily Rabe, and Philip Baker Hall are all well-cast in supporting roles. And Kristen Wiig has a couple of great scenes with Dunst as her character's best friend. But it's Dunst, who has to play the gamut of emotions from young love to scared for her life, who steals the show.

Although there is some foreshadowing, the film violent shifts from drama into thriller and almost immediately begins to lose its footing. With the disappearance of Dunst's character the script becomes an lesson in how to implode a perfectly good drama with unnecessary twists (even if some of the events may be true).

All Good Things is a trainwreck, and that's sad. It wastes talented actors and a strong set-up by allowing itself to become little more than a clich├ęd thriller. Dunst performance is worthy of note, but the rest of the good things don't add up to nearly enough to recommend.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Castle - Nikki Heat

Castle has been teasing us this season with the news of Richard Catle's (Nathan Fillion) novel getting turned into a feature film. In this week's episode Eric Forman's old flame (Laura Prepon) shows up as the actress chosen for the role of Nikki Heat.

Although the episode starts out a little slow there's plenty of fun to be had including Castle's early misgivings which are met, and surpassed, by Detective Beckett's (Stana Katic) growing discomfort at how seriously the actress takes her craft (as you see in the clip).

Fillion's reaction to seeing Nikki Heat for first time is great. This week's mystery isn't half-bad either. And if Stana Katic gets any more adorable this show is going to have to start coming with a warning label. Great stuff!

Batman: The Dark Knight #1

I don't know that we need another Bat-title, but as long as its not penned by Grant Morrison I'm not going to complain too loudly at Batman getting another monthly comic.

David Finch does double duty here as both writer and artist and I must say this isn't a bad first issue. We get appearances by two classic Bat-villains as well as the introduction of a figure from Bruce Wayne's past. I appreciated Finch's decision to let us view Dawn Golden only through the eyes of the young Bruce before the death of his parents. Although the story centers the missing troubled young woman, who may have come to a gruesome end, the only relation we make to the character is the same one Batman does.

Finch does a good job of jumping Bruce back into the saddle of Batman but still showing some rust (such as his confrontation with Killer Croc in the dark alley). I don't know that I'm ready for the "terrible ramifications" this story is meant to have on Batman's life, but it's a strong beginning. Worth a look.

[DC $3.99]

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Gotham City Sirens #18

Selina Kyle knows Bruce Wayne is Batman. That's a problem. But is it a big enough problem to justify wiping her memories surrounding Batman's true identity from her mind?

The issue is really more about Zatanna and her struggle with the implications of changing someone's memories, even for the greater good, than Catwoman herself. There's also a B-story with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn trying to pry the truth from their friend while Talia al Ghul and Zatanna attempt to keep them away.

Although the outcome is cheapened a bit by a late twist (which sets up the conflict for next month's issue), I actually really liked what writer Peter Calloway does here by wrapping the entire issue around a moral dilemma that has no easy answer. He also breathes some life into Zatanna who is much more vibrant her than in her own series.

While I'm not the biggest fan of how the issue uses Talia, at least it's better than what Grant Morrison did with the character. This title has had some uneven stories lately but this one is worth a look.

[DC $2.99]

Captain America #613

The trial of Bucky Barnes begins here, and if this first issue is any indication most of the story is going to take place outside the courtroom.

The current Captain America only makes a brief appearance here as most of the issue deals with the recently Steve Rogers and the Falcon trying to track down the escaped Sin and dealing with the fallout of her leaked tape to try and discredit Bucky-Cap by claiming he was a willing soldier for her father, the Red Skull.

Far from a traditional super-hero story this issue, as fans of the title have come to expect from writer Ed Brubaker, this issue sets the tone for the next story arc well. I would have liked to have seen more of Bucky-Cap here, but the one scene we do get (the prison guards reacting to the news he's a Nazi traitor) is one of the best sequences.

I thought the handling of the Winter Soldier's past being disclosed to the public was pretty shoddy (not to mention rushed), now we'll get to see if Brubaker can pull things back and give us the first big super-hero trial we've had in years. Worth a look.

[Marvel $3.99]