Monday, February 28, 2011

The Deadly Art of Science (Part Four)

As the mysterious scientific robberies continue Atomic Robo and Helen take a night off to enjoy a movie and a leisurely stroll. It's a perfect night, at least until they come across a massive robot committing another robbery. Robo's attempt to help the police apprehend the thief is less than helpful.

There are some nice moments between Tesla and Robo and Robo driving Tarot a little more insane when the robot can't remember not to keep using the secret entrance. And Helen makes the hard realization she's dating a robot who is only seven years-old. Yeah... when you put it like that it is pretty creepy.

We also get a little more of the book's villain this time around - Thomas Edison. We only get a short glimpse as to what his scientists are working on, but the final issue seems primed to wrap-up all these stories satisfactorily. Worth a look.

[Red 5 $3.50]

Megamind on Blu-ray

Anyone who ever enjoyed old Silver Age Superman comics and always wanted to see Lex Luthor beat the Man of Steel should go grab this movie right now. Megamind asks a simple question: What happens to a villain after he's vanquished the hero? DreamWorks answer is as much fun on Blu-ray as it was in the theaters.

After giving us a short background on Megamind (Will Ferrell as our villain) and Metro Man (Brad Pitt as our hero) the movie quickly moves to the villain's latest plot. Everything is going as usual, the hero is ready to save the day, rescue the girl, and thwart the bad guy. And then the unexpected happens - the villain wins.

The rest of the film focuses on Megamind trying to redefine his role in the world, his evolving relationship with intrepid female reporter Roxanne Ritchi (Tina Fey), and his own hero's journey to be the next champion of Metro City.

Megamind is a merging of the corniness of Silver Age tales with modern sensibilities. And it's a helluva lot of fun. The film's look, style, and slightly off-beat sense of humor fit perfectly with this kind of tale. The film has a character who is a fish inside the body of robotic gorilla voiced by David Cross. What else do you need? For more on the film (read my original review).

In terms of extras the Blu-ray there's a little something here for everyone including behind-the-scenes featurettes on the film and the design of the character of Megamind and his secret lair, a deleted scene, a new animated short "Megamind: The Button of Doom," and a few games for kids including a tutorial on how to draw Megamind. A trivia track and a storyboard video/audio commentary track from the creators of the film are also included.

I enjoyed this film in the theaters and liked it ever more on Blu-ray (Jonah Hill's character wasn't quite as annoying the second time around). It's an easy recommendation for anyone, especially those with a love of classic comic books.

Comic Rack #117

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

This week includes Archie, Astonishing Thor, Avengers Academy, Batman Beyond, Batman: Streets of Gotham, The Boys, Brightest Day, Bring the Thunder, Chew, Conan: Road of Kings, Deadpool, Freedom Fighters, Green Lantern, Heroes for Hire, House of Mystery, Irredeemable, Locke & Key: Key to the Kingdom, Powers, Red Sonja, Secret Six, Secret Warriors, Thunderbolts, X-Factor, the first issues of 5 Ronin, Annihilators, Axe Cop: Bad Guy Earth, Carbon Grey, Darkwing Duck Annual, Emma, Herculian, The Intrepids, Marvel Zombies Supreme, Venom, Wolverine/Hercules: Myths, Monsters & Mutants, Wulf, and the final issues of Angel: Illyria, Azrael, Batman Confidential, Doorways, and First Wave.

Enjoy issue #116

Friday, February 25, 2011

All-Star Superman

Based on the comic of the same name by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely All-Star Superman gives us the world's first super-hero in his final days. Lex Luthor (Anthony LaPaglia) has finally won. He's found a way to slowly kill the Man of Steel, but the last son of Krypton isn't going to go away quietly.

The movie begins with Superman's (James Denton) overexposure to the Sun's radiation and follows a series of adventures in his final days including fighting with the Parasite, dealing with newly arrived survivors of Krypton, and finally admiring the truth to Lois Lane (Christina Hendricks).

The straight-to-DVD film is a good adaptation of the original series, but does make some changes to the story. We don't get Jimmy Olsen / Doomsday story or Superman's adventure to Bizarro World, and Krypto, sadly, finds himself on the cuttting-room floor as well.

Of the stories we do get Lois Lane's birthday works the best (even if I did get tired of the annoying demigod figures of Samson and Atlas). The movie also has a little more life when Lex Luthor is on-screen. Denton isn't bad as the voice of the Man of Steel but his delivery is a little too laid back making film's main character come off as bland at times.

I was less impressed with the story involving Bar-El and Lilo (fellow Kryptonians who have made their way to Earth) which I felt was rushed and a little out of place. Yes, it provides one of the film's big battle sequences, but the movie has plenty of others. I would have preferred the time used here to focus more on Superman himself, his relationships, and the more human scenes of Superman dealing with, and saving, regular people from threats other than aliens and super-villains.

The film certainly captures Quitely's style (which is both good and bad) but there are a couple of small gaffes which bothered me. The first is the crowd sequence at Lex Luthor's trial which both looks and sounds incredibly cheap, and the second appears near the end of the film when a character appears to be walking up stairs only to be revealed to be flying. Is it a cool reveal? That's arguable, but what's not is the motion of his legs moving up and down the steps doesn't make any sense if he was simply floating up from the subway. Small nitpicks to be sure, but both felt like something that should have been seen and taken care of well before the film hit DVD shelves.

The DVD extras are scant, but the Blu-ray does include quite a bit worth watching. And it seems DC is finally listening to me by including extras for the movie they are releasing instead of only extras for their upcoming projects (although we do get a sneak peek at Green Lantern: Emerald Knights). The best feature is the full-length commentary with Grant Morrison and producer Bruce Timm discussing the film, the graphic novel, Superman, and comics in general.

There is also a featurette with interviews of Morrison and Dan Didio discussing the creation of the original comic as well as a shorter featurette showcasing some of Morrison's original artwork. Also included are a couple episodes of Superman: The Animated Series and a virtual comic of All Star Superman's first issue.

Is All-Star Superman a great film? No. It's certainly not in the league with Justice League: New Frontier, but it does capture the feel of the character and the original comic very well. It's a solid effort from Warner Premiere and DC Animation that's worth adding to any comic book fan's shelf.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bad Teacher trailer

Cameron Diaz stars as one Bad Teacher who tries to steal both a bonus and a potential beau (Justin Timberlake) from a fellow teacher (Lucy Punch). Jason Segel, Phyllis Smith, and John Michael Higgins also star. The film was directed by Jake Kasdan (The TV Set, Walk Hard). The foul-mouthed shenanigans hit theaters on July 24th.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Supergirl #61

Better watch out Damian, you wouldn't want Red Robin to find out you got saved by Supergirl. Although I'm still on the fence with Bernard Chang's art, I'm always glad to see a team-up with Supergirl and Robin. I can hardly wait until Batgirl gets brought in to this story arc and the fun can really begin.

After fighting off her own gang of super-villains, who appear and disappear without a trace, Kara travels to Gotham to save Robin from the same fate. And if that's not enough for you there's a touching (if slightly forced) moment between Lois Lane and Supergirl that goes further in validating Kara than any super-villain knockdown ever could.

There are a couple of nagging issues here (the most obvious being the continuity issue surrounding Blue Beetle's involvement in this story), but it is FUN and a far cry from the dreary story arcs the character was stuck in just a few months ago. Definitely worth a look.

[DC $2.99]

Darkwing Duck #9

After a brief meeting with an image consultant in an attempt to clean up his image after the army of Darkwings helped demolish large sections of St. Canard. Next up for our hero: an unlikely team-up with an agent of F.O.W.L.

Things must really be bleak if Steelbeak is willing to turn on his own criminal organization and befriend the duck who has thwarted his criminal enterprises for years. So what could be so awful, so unthinkable? F.O.W.L. has decided to use dark magic to bring forth... Duckthulhu!

Okay, I'll grant you that this isn't a great idea for a story, but I actually enjoyed Darkwing Duck and Steelbeak together on the same side, and the plot for this story arc (even if it makes me groan) does allow this to happen. It also gives us a chance for a harebrained scheme and the pair behind overwhelmed by an army of Eggmen.

Throw in the funny opening with the Duck Draper (which goes over as badly as you'd expect) as well as the reactions of both Gosalyn and Morgana Macawber to being taken for granted, and there's more than enough here that's worth a look.

[BOOM $3.99]

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Devaluation of a Hero

The Silver Surfer is one of my favorite Marvel characters. Sometimes I lement that he goes long stretches without a monthly comic on his own, but then I take solace in the understanding that not everyone can write a good Silver Surfer story. And when the character is done poorly it's excruciating to read. Take this comic as an example.

Writer Greg Pak's "Devolution' strips Marvel's most noble hero of his adamantium skin and then shoots him several times in the chest. Honestly, I can't imagine a worse Silver Surfer story, and I've read Ron Marz's take on the character. And we've got four more issues!

Pak's writing comes off like someone who has read Silver Surfer stories in the past but didn't understand them. In essence what he's done here is given the Surfer the Michael Bay Transformers treatment. (And if you find a way to take that as a positive I hate you.)

The idea behind Pak's story is our hero is experimented on by the High Evolutionary who does what even Galactus himself has never been able to do - return Norrin Radd to his mortal state. But at least it took him four whole panels to do it! Anyone else feel the increasing need to vomit?

Pak, in order to tell this poorly thought out tale, also ignores Surfer continuity, most importantly the beautiful "last Silver Surfer story" Requiem which states quite clearly that the corruption of his outer skin would mean the death of Zenn-La's greatest champion. The Surfer hasn't been a living, breathing being in years. His entire cellular structure, not just an outer layer of skin, has been irrevocably altered, permanently, to house the Power Cosmic.

Is anyone at Marvel vetting ideas for comics anymore? No matter how you slice it this is a terrible idea presented with the subtlety of a punch to the crotch. I don't believe in burning books, but if I did this one would already been set ablaze.

[Marvel $2.99]

Green Lantern #62

I will be so glad when Brightest Day is over. Hal Jordan and the rainbow corps come face-to-face with Krona (and get their asses handed to them in short order). Krona escapes with the entities and Hal wakes up hours later back on th JLA Satelitte with a concussion and broken ribs just in time for a scolding from Batman.

Needing all the help he can get Hal immediately turns down Superman, Batman, and the Flash (who all agree to help), and promptly disappears with the rainbow corps back into space.

There's so much wrong with this issue I don't know where to begin. The story is just gawdaful. Hal's refusal of help makes no sense for a guy who's known to use whatever advantage and leverage he can get over the years. Nor does his protection of Atrocitus given his most recent murderous offenses on Earth. I've also got to complain about the inconsistency of Doug Mahnke's artwork over the issue - he can't even get Batman's costume right (he puts Bruce into Dick Grayson's costume).

Did I tell you how I can't wait until Brightest Day is over? Pass.


The Batmobile through the ages

Click the pic for the full-sized image

Get Low

Robert Duvall stars as a grumpy old hermit nearing the end of a lonely life who decides to hire a local funeral director (Bill Murray) and his assistant (Lucas Black) to plan a living funeral - something never seen before in Tennessee during the 1930's.

Duvall is given a meaty role, and Murray has some fun moments, but eventually the film simply runs out of gas. The hermit's deep dark secret, once exposed, is... kind of lame, and far less interesting than I hoped. And the promise of others gathering at his funeral to tell tales of this mean old hermit's violent outbursts (which have become legend in the small town) is never fulfilled, at least on-camera.

Get Low gives you exactly what you'd expect (complete with a big bright bow wrapped around the ending) and nothing more. It's ike so many uninspired films that play it safe and don't cash-in on the chances offered them.

Available one both DVD and Blu-ray the film comes with a small selection of extras which includes Q&A from the Tribeca Film Festival, commentary by Duvall, Sissy Spacek, director Aaron Schneider and producer Dean Zanuck, the film's trailer, and a collection of short featurettes on the background and creation of the film.

I could never recommend anyone buy this (at any price), but those seeking a feel-good story about a grumpy miser coming to terms with his life's biggest mistake might want to give this one a quick look. Sadly, those, like me, looking for more are bound to be disappointed.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Doom Patrol #19

I love Keith Giffen, but not everything he does is a winner. This second-half of the Secret Six crossover finds the Doom Patrol and Catman and company battling it out on an island while an active volcano turns everything to slag around them.

Although I liked the madcap action of the first-half of this crossover, this one's a bit disappointing. There are some fun moments (including the crazed charge of the Science Squad), but the craziness ultimately never pays off. On the plus side, Catman and Scandal get off some good lines (reminding us of pre-Bane Secret Six days).

Although the Secret Six are present, they take a definite backseat to the Doom Patrol (who, to be honest, I've never really been that fond of).

It's not a bad read, I was just hoping with all the insanity at his disposal Giffen would knock the second-half of this one out of the park. Hit-and-Miss.

[DC $2.99]

Atlas Shrugs off its first trailer

Congratulations Ayn Rand, you're the new J.K. Rowling. That's right, the rumors that someone was not making just one but three movies based on Rand's novel appear to be true. And it's directed by Highlander: The Raven star Paul Johansson. (This just keeps sounding better and better, doesn't it?)  Taylor Schilling, Paul Johansson, Edi Gathegi, Matthew Marsden, Michael Lerner, and Armin Shimerman star. Coincidently, you can start looking for Part I on the day your taxes are due this year.

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 Astonishing X-Men, Avengers, Deadpool, Detective Comics, Gotham City Sirens, Green Arrow, Godland, Invincible Iron Man, Kato, Lady Death, Power Girl, Savage Dragon, Scalped, Spike, Teen Titans, Thor, Usagi Yojimbo,X-Men, the first issues of Iron Man 2.0, King Conan: The Scarlet Citadel, Transformers 3 Movie Prequel - Foundation, True Blood: Tainted, and the final issues of Fantastic Four, Green Hornet: Blood Ties, Iron Man/Thor, Kull: The Hate Witch #4 (of 4), Star Trek: Infestation, Warriors Three, and X-Men: To Serve And Protect.

Enjoy issue #116

Friday, February 18, 2011

I Am Number Four

Based on the young adult novel of the same name by Pittacus Lore I Am Number Four is somewhat bland coming of age tale of a high school aged alien (i.e. college aged actor) on the run from another group of aliens that want him dead. Incredibly silly, and more than a little dumb, the film tries to cover up most of its flaws with a sense of humor and some well executed special effects.

We meet the alien savior John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) and his protector Henri (Timothy Olyphant) on the beaches of Florida before they hastily relocate to the scenic town of Paradise, Ohio, in an attempt to stay ahead of the other aliens.

These evil visitors to our world, known as the Mogadorians, are systematically hunting down nine children from John's home planet in order of the numbers someone (the film never mentions who) has given them. Once these children are dead the Mogadorians plan to turn their attentions to the helpless earthlings.

Henri's mission to keep John safe is compromised by a variety of factors including the beginning of John accessing his alien abilities, his inability to stay hidden and keep his face off the Internet, a new friend (Callan McAuliffe), his first girlfriend (Dianna Agron), and a group of bullies intent on showing the new kid who's boss.

The movie certainly feels like it was cribbed from a young adult fantasy novel. Most of the sci-fi elements that surround John are pretty ridiculous and the film tries to spend the least amount of time on them as possible before throwing the alien boy into a new kid in school storyline. But, hey, at least he can use his hands as flashlights! That's cool, right?

And the numbering of these children, at least for someone who hasn't read the book, is confusing (not just to me, but it seems the screenwriters as well). The reason behind this chronological hunting is never given (nor why or how each child got their number). Why do they have to kill Number One first, Number Two second, and so on? Wouldn't it make more sense to just kill the kids once they've been found, no matter in what order they were discovered? It's a ridiculous rule that makes no sense, but that's hardly anything new for middling sci-fi fantasty. Where the film completely loses me is when it throws its own ridiculous rules out of the window to stage its biggest action scene.

If we are to believe the Mogadorians must kill in order (as we are told at the beginning of the film) then the creatures shouldn't and wouldn't attempt to kill Number 6 (Teresa Palmer) while both Number 4 and Number 5 (who hasn't even been located yet) are very much alive. But that's exactly what happens when 6 finally shows up to save our boy. If you're going to make the audience accept such a ludicrous premise on which the entire plot of the film relies the least you can do is stick to it for a couple of hours. It also doesn't help that Palmer's character, who has much more control of her abilities, kicks more ass in ten seconds as our protagonist does over the entire course of the film.

Aside from looking far too old for the role Pettyfer does his best with what he's given to work with, but he does come off wooden and dimwitted at times. Agron, who most will recognize from Glee, has moments as well but her character is so paint-by-number (the once popular girl now turned even cooler outsider) it's hard not to roll your eyes.

Other than major plot problems, perhaps the most disappointing thing about the film is the villains. The film can never decide if it wants the Mogadorians to be truly scary or have some humor as well. The result makes them funny in all the wrong ways. I was also confused why all the aliens seem to spontaneous burst into smoke and light when they die, and why something so unusual is so easily accepted by those who see it. It didn't make sense in Elektra and doesn't work here either.

I Am Number Four is a mess that's far less entertaining than it should be. Young kids might enjoy it, but other than a few special effects sequences there's really nothing here of much interest for anyone over the age of Four.


Liam Neeson stars as Dr. Martin Harris, a scientist from the United States who arrives in Germany with his wife (January Jones) for a medical conference, only to find his very life stolen from him in the space of four days.

After a car accident leaves him in a coma, Martin awakes days later to find his life has been Taken away from him and an another man (Aidan Quinn) has assumed his identity. Frantic, Martin tries to piece together his fractured memory with the help of a cab driver (Diane Kruger) and a former East German spy (Bruno Ganz).

The film was based on the novel by Didier Van Cauwelaert, but could have just as easily been pieced together from a variety of recent Hollywood thrillers. There's nothing new added to the equation, and the execution is far from thrilling.

That's not to say Unknown is a bad film. It hits the right marks, the action sequences are passable, and the movie does include one fairly well done car chase through the streets of Berlin.

The structure of the film limits both the dramatic impact of scenes and the surprise (or lack of) over the eventual unraveling of the mystery. We're introduced to Martin and his wife before the accident. Even if the film allows him to question his sanity momentarily (for all of 15 seconds before a hitman tries to kill him) we know he's not insane. This drastically cuts down on the choices the screenwriter has to square various characters and plot issues (such as Martin's doppelgänger, his wife's reaction to him, mysterious codes, and the various threats against his life) with little things like logic and common sense.

Neeson, no stranger to throwaway thrillers these days, carries the film well. We never really grow to care for the character, but he's a good enough actor for us to stay with him as he peels away the layers of Deception to find the truth. And I'm always willing to spend a couple of hours with Diane Kruger.

Sadly, I was less impressed with Jones who I felt was poorly cast, especially considering the changes to her character as the film progresses through its several twists and turns. She would have fit more naturally into Kruger's role, which requires her to be mostly standoffish and scared while running for her life rather than the character at the center of the mystery. Frank Langella has a small but important role as Martin's friend, but there's little doubt from his first second onscreen whose side he's really on.

The twist/revelation on which the entire premise relies is far less shocking than it means to be. Although it does (for the most part) explain away what has happened to his character, it doesn't have the impact today it might have had 15 or 20 years ago. Anyone who has a passing relationship with Robert Ludlum's work (or the Bourne films adapted from his novels) won't be the least bit surprised by what happens here.

For a midwinter action-thriller, Unknown, even with its various twists and turns, isn't anything more than you'd expect.

Those looking for nothing more than a forgettable thriller may get their money's worth, but the reason for the film's unnecesarry existence will be left Unknown.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Awesome Characters - Winifred Burkle

"Handsome man saved me from the monsters."

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

I enjoy all five season of Angel, but for me the show really hits its stride at the beginning of Season Three when it incorporates the character of Winifred Burkle as a full-time cast member.

"Fred" was introduced in the three-part season finale of Season Two in which Angel, Wesley, Gunn, and Lorne travel to Lorne's home dimension of Pylea to save Cordelia. It's in Pylea where we meet the once brilliant science student turned human slave.

Take Me or Leave Me (Glee-style)

There may have been way too much Justin Bieber for my tastes in this week's episode of Glee, but the message of getting back to basics was a good one for both Sue (Jane Lynch) and Rachel (Lea Michele). We also got more of the Finn (Cory Monteith)/Quinn (Dianna Agron)/Sam (Chord Overstreet) triangle - with a little Santana (Naya Rivera) thrown in for good measure - and more of the odd pairing of Puck (Mark Salling) and Lauren (Ashley Fink). And, I kind of liked Britney's (Heather Morris) arm-warmers. This week also marked another diva-off between Rachel and Mercedes (Amber Riley) with a very entertaing performance of "Take Me or Leave Me" from Rent which you can watch in this clip.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Red Robin #20

Enter the Catman. The first issue of a two-part crossover with Teen Titans begins here as Red Robin battles with Catman who has been hired by the Calculator to keep the hero out of the ubernet. His solution is simple, and deadly - he puts Tam Fox in danger.

I've got to say any comic can be helped by a little Catman, and the fight between the two is pretty good. I'm also glad to see how seriously Drake takes a threat like Thomas Blake. You've come a long way, baby (thank you Gail Simone!).

That said, the best part of this issue is the second-half where Red Robin reconnects with the Teen Titans (and Damian). The Empire Strike Back reunion scene is pretty good, as is the chemistry between Drake and his former teammates is enjoyable as well as telling on how much Drake has grown into his own character. Now if they can just survive the daunting task of taking out Calculator's base of operation protected by an army of robots made in his own image. (I wonder if he calls them Doombots?) Definitely worth a look.

[DC $2.99]

Impressive Avengers Fan-Made Trailer

I hope the real trailer looks this good. Take a look.

Cinderella: Fables are Forever #1

I've never really gotten into Bill Winnington's Fables series which sets various characters from fairy tales and folklore into the Vertigo Universe. This new six-issue mini-series from writer Chris Roberson centers around what might be the most accessable character for those unfamiliar to start with - Cinderella.

In the Fables universe Cinderella is Prince Charming's third wife and the world's best secret-agent. A girzzly murder and the calling card of an assassin from Cinderella's past sends her on a mission to Russia in search of a woman she believed was long dead.

I've got to mention the cover by Chrissie Zullo which immediately caught my eye and proved to be the deciding factor in picking up this issue. And I'm glad I did. This super-spy version of Cinderella is an intriguing take on the classic character, and one I wouldn't mind spending a few issues getting to know better.

Although there's not a ton of action in this first issue, we do see Cinderella's spy skills at work as well as learn the identity of the assassin she seeks. I'm not sure how this is going to play out, but it's a strong first issue that will make me take a look at next month's as well. Worth a look.

[Vertigo $2.99]

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Batgirl #18

Here's something you may have not known: Stephanie Brown tastes like Christmas. Not surprising mind you, just food for thought. This Valentine's issue pairing of Batgirl and Klarion the Witch Boy out to stop his familiar from a murder spree while it searches for true love isn't exactly you average Batgirl tale. It's not every day our heroine finds herself shrunk and trapped in a magic snow globe.

What works here is how Stephanie Brown is immediately put on the defensive by dealing with a magic user - not something that comes up regularly in her patrols on the streets of Gotham. Still, Stephanie adapts and agrees to help the Witch Boy after Klarion returns her to normal size (dashing her dream of fighting lice alongside the Atom in what would surely be an epic team-up).

Of course this includes dimension jumping, trying to prevent herself from being burned at the stake, fighting off a Witch Boy's cat (which turns out to be a man-sized vicious were-cat), and even kissing Witch Boy in front of her friends. Weird, but also worth a look.

[DC $2.99]

I Know Who the Killer Is!

I do love this show.

X-Men: First Class (first trailer)

The first trailer for X-Men: First Class has been making its way around the 'net and I finally decided to post it here. What little we see here doesn't make me feel much better about the project, but I do like the design of the classic X-Men costumes. The film stars Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Dr. Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne), Emma Frost (January Jones), Azazel (Jason Flemyng), the Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Havok (Lucas Till), Angel Salvadore (Zoë Kravitz), Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), and Professor X (James McAvoy) and hits theaters this June.

The Deadly Art of Science (Part 3)

"The Deadly Art of Science" continues as Atomic Robo learns from vigilante Jack Tarot (somewhat successfully), fights a giant robot (less successfully), and learns a few things from Jack's daughter Helen (smoochie-smoochie!).

Although Tarot has little respect for out hero's ability in the field (he'd rather work with a gorilla), Tarot is impressed with his scientific knowledge and astounded when Robo helps make a break in the case. What else can the vigilante do but reluctantly agree to train the troublesome robot?

A very enjoyable issue all around punctuated with Tarot's increasingly short-temper towards all of Atomic Robo's "help." And aside from giving or hero his first kiss, Helen also teaches him a lesson about family which gives us a nice closing sequence between Robo and his creator Nikola Tesla that brings the pair's confrontation earlier in the issue full circle. Worth a look.

[Red 5, $3.50]

Monday, February 14, 2011

Justice League: Generation Lost #19

Power Girl finally knows the truth about Maxwell Lord, but is it too late for the JLI to save the Blue Beetle from a fate all to similar to that of Ted Kord? The cover might give you a clue.

The team sets out to save Blue Beetle from Max Lord who lets a little more about his plan slip to Jaime and how he's used the former Justice League International members to seize control of Checkmate.

The story unfolds with the team mounting their rescue operation as Lord tortures Jaime in hope of learning more about the Scarab and how to use its technology to further his plans. Once Jaime escapes there's a big throwdown between the Beetle and Lord (with the help of Checkmate defenses) which ends with the shocking death (even given the the foreshadowing of the cover) of an immensely popular DC character.

Perhaps its my nostalgia for Keith Giffen's Justice League, but I've always preferred Ted Kord to Jaime Reyes. I also think the best of the current run of Booster Gold centered around the issues which featured the return of one of the greatest duos in DC history.

That said, over time I've come to appreciate what Jaime brings to the table as a character and how he's managed to carve out his own little niche in the DCU without coming off like a bastardized douchey shadow of the character he replaced (*cough*Kyle Rayner*cough*).

Judd Winick at company allow Jaime to go out swinging, and his death certainly helps drive home how dangerous a character Maxwell Lord is, but I'm just not sure his death necessary (or even a good idea). And what does this mean for the future? Does Jaime return? Ted Kord? Or are we in line for an all-new Blue Beetle? If I was betting I'd say we haven't seen the last of Jaime quite yet.

We'll have to wait and see how permanent the fallout of this issue becomes and what his death means to Booster Gold and the Justice League, but for now the DCU is again left without a Blue Beetle. Must-read.

[DC $2.99]

Comic Rack

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

This week includes Angel, Avengers Academy, Batman, Booster Gold, The Boys, Daredevil: Reborn, Darkwing Duck, DMZ, Edge of Doom, Fables, Green Lantern, Loki, Memoir, Proof: Endangered, Spider-Girl, The Spirit, Star Wars: Knight Errant, Supergirl, the first issues of Flash Gordon Invasion Of The Red Sword, Formic Wars: Burning Earth, Hawkeye: Blindspot, Jennifer Blood, Marvel Girl, Silver Surfer, Styx & Stone, Young Justice, and the final issues of Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis, Dungeons And Dragons, Doorways, Iron Man: The Rapture, Ratchet and Clank, and Transformers: Infestation.

Enjoy issue #115

Friday, February 11, 2011

Just Skip It

As a critic I've seen my fair share of romantic comedies over the years. Some are cute, some are sweet, some are funny, and far too many that are dumber than the celluloid on which they've been shot.

Fans who feel Adam Sandler has gotten too far away from his roots (where he made ridiculous comedies without a semblance of reason) are in for a treat. Sadly the rest of us will have to struggle through the painful cinematic misfire that is Just Go With It.

Sandler stars as Danny, a plastic surgeon who, on his wedding day, learns his wife-to-be has been cheating on him. He takes his sorrows to the local bar where his wedding ring and white lies about his long-suffering dysfunctional marriage turn into years of bedding a number of young hotties that rivals Wilt Chamberlain.

Everything in Just Go With It is based on lies, and not even good ones. The main plot begins when Danny sleeps with a beautiful woman on the beach (played by Brooklyn Decker, whose bikini gives the film's only good performance).

After she finds his wedding ring the next morning, he creates a complicated lie which quickly, and moronically, spirals further and futher out of control in the most insanely contrived series of events I can remember seeing in any film that didn't star Kate Hudson. The truth, a half-truth, or even a simple lie could easily solve 99% of the issues which are caused by this one scene but sadly Sandler's character seems as mentally challenged as the writers of this film.

The main trouble with Just Wait For It is nothing feels real. There's not a single character reaction that's at all believable or natural. And truth or a bit of drama is far too much to ask for when a cheap laugh will do. The second biggest problem is it's just not funny. At all. This is the kind of movie where one character will poop on someone's hand, where a sheep will receive mouth-to-mouth, and Sandler will take a header in the groin for all the cheap laughs that can be had.

Jennifer Aniston stars as Danny's assistant, a single mom with two precocious kids (Bailee Madison, Griffin Gluck) who Danny uses as his fake family to impress his new girlfriend. Soon the entire group, plus his brother (Nick Swardson) doing a ridiculous Dolph Lundgren impersonation, fly to Hawaii to spend quality time together.

Although the scenery improves, the convoluted plot goes into overdrive including more lies involving  a painfully unfunny Nicole Kidman and the kind of basic Hawaiian sequences you've seen in every romantic comedy that takes place on the islands (overhead lush shots, hikes to watefalls and cliffs, hotel suites far too expensive for the characters to afford, and a dingy bar on the side of the island where something "funny" is sure to occur).

The comedic timing of both Sandler and Aniston is wasted here, and the script is so bad it's hard to judge whether or not Decker has a career as an actress. The first half-hour of Just Go With It is mind-numbingly dull. Sadly that's the film's high water mark. Once the group makes the trip to Hawaii becomes increasingly insufferable. Nor is there any real chemistry between Sandler and Decker, or Sandler and Aniston. We know who he should, and will, wind up with. We just don't care.


...has had enough.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Garden State

For the week leading up to Valentine's Day I went scavenged through RazorFine's database and collected a few Valentine's Week posts and reviews for the week. Here's my review for Garden State.

Garden State is one of those films I missed in the theaters and hunted down on DVD after a number of people had recommended it to me. I'm so glad I did! Zach Braff's first time as writer/director produces a truly great romantic comedy with a heart bigger than even an infinite abyss.

Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff) leaves his struggling acting career and returns home for the first time in nine years to attend his mother’s funeral. Andrew is disconnected from his family, and life in general, through a variety of medications that create an overall malaise. The death of his mother and his return home begin a series of events that allow Andrew to reexamine his life and start to live again.

On his return to New Jersey Andrew meets up with old friends Mark (Peter Sarsgaard) and Jesse (Armando Riesco) and has an unexpected encounter at the doctor’s office where he meets Sam (Natalie Portman).

A friendship develops between the two as Sam brings out feelings in Andrew that have been buried for years. His growing love for Sam makes Andrew face his father (Ian Holm), the death of his mother, and the event of his childhood that altered his family forever.

Andrew’s metaphorical internal journey takes over the screen in an actual journey as Andrew, Sam and Mark travel across Jersey making stops at a hardware store, a hotel, and an infinite abyss.

The film is amazingly moving and effective and you just want to keep watching it over and over again. Filled with unbelievably great music and moments both funny and moving the film also containts some great supporting peformances by Jean Smart, Michael Weston, Denis O’Hare, Method Man and Geoffrey Arend as Handi-World worker Carl Benson.

If you want to see how great a film Garden State is compare it to Cameron Crowe’s Elizabethtown. Braff’s first film predates Crowe’s eighth film by a year and is superior in almost every single way in a similar story about a son's return home to face the death of a parent and start a new romance. Braff doesn’t have all the answers and leaves the film open-ended (much like Crowe’s Say Anything…) as to what will happen between these two characters. What he does have is a great eye for romantic comedy, and provides us one of the best recent examples of the genre.

The Adjustment Bureau trailer

Based on a short story by Phillip K. Dick, Matt Damon stars as a U.S. Congressman who begins to suspect that someone is keeping him from a possible romantic relationship with a dancer (Emily Blunt). His investigation into the matter leads him farther down the rabbit hole than he could ever imagine when he uncovers the existence and purpose of The Adjustment Bureau. Terence Stamp, Anthony Mackie, John Slattery, and Michael Kelly also star. The intrigue begins in theaters everywhere on March 4th.

Captain America: The First Avenger trailer

The first trailer for Captain America: The First Avenger hit airwaves during the Super Bowl. In case you missed it, have a look. The film stars Chris Evans (as Cap), Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci, Hayley Atwell, Neal McDonough, Toby Jones, and Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull. Captain America: The First Avenger hits theaters July 22nd.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Man with One Red Shoe

For the week leading up to Valentine's Day I went scavenged through RazorFine's database and collected a few Valentine's Week posts and reviews for the week. Here's my review for The Man with One Red Shoe.

I have a confession to make; my favorite Tom Hanks movie isn’t Forrest Gump, Big, Philadelphia, Apollo 13, The Terminal, Splash, or Sleepless in Seattle.  My favorite Hanks film is 1985’s The Man with One Red Shoe.  Now, I'd never argue it's his best movie, but for my money its sheer enjoyment value is off the charts. A great farce, fun suspense, Jim Belushi losing his mind, Carrie Fisher in a leopard print bikini, and an off-beat love story make this a great addition to anyone’s DVD collection.

Richard Drew (Tom Hanks) is a concert violinist who is sleeping with his best friend Morris’s (Jim Belushi) wife Paula (Carrie Fisher).  Richard leads a boring life of concerts and violin lessons. 

That’s all about to change as CIA director Ross (Charles Durning) sets up a trap to catch the illegal operations of a competing CIA boss Cooper (Dabney Coleman).  Ross plants a fake story about having a witness to Cooper’s activities and sends his top man Brown (Edward Herrmann) to pick a man at random realizing that Cooper will take a run at him and then they will have him.

At the airport Brown chooses Richard Drew simply because he is wearing two different shoes, including one red one.  Cooper’s minions go into full gear bugging Richard’s apartment and taking it apart to search for this evidence he has.  Leading the group is Maddy (Lori Singer) who Richard falls in love with at first sight.

It’s just great fun all around.  The film blends the farce of mistaken identities and situations with an entertaining tale.  Hanks is outstanding as the leading man and Singer is well cast as the femme fatale who is tired of the game.  Coleman and Durning work well fighting out their own private battle not caring about casualties and Belushi and Fisher give some of the best performances of their careers.

The film is filled with great gags and moments: the team tearing up Richard’s apartment and putting it back together (badly) in haste, the ambulance listening to the tape of Richard and Paula and Morris overhearing and chasing after it, the softball scene, the dentist’s office, the concert (including a nice cameo by David Ogden Stiers), and Maddy’s attempt to seduce Richard into telling him her secrets with the entire team watching behind two-way mirrors.  Great stuff.

This is just a fun film that although isn’t your average love story it does have surprisingly tender moments.  Though it’s a bare-bones edition without any extras, The Man with One Red Shoe is a great film with a terrific cast and wonderful script make this one DVD that belongs on your shelf.

The Art of Seduction

This week's Chuck was all about seduction. Super-spy Roan Montgomery (John Larroquette) is caught while trying to seduce his way into a female terrorist's (Lesley-Ann Brandt) camp, although his charms start to pay least until the rescue team botches the mission, again. Roan's seduction techniques work even less well for Casey (Adam Baldwin) who tries to seduce a guard and ends up having to use explosives instead. And Chuck (Zachary Levi) and Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) have their own battle of seduction (hers involves a belly dancer costume, which you can see in the clip) as the fight over their impending wedding. Good times all around.

She-Hulks #4

I honestly think Marvel and DC are in a race right now to come up with multiple insignificant versions of the same character. At this point I'm not sure if DC's got more Flashes or if Marvel has more Hulks.

This mini-series, which ends with this issue, has been primarily focused on two of the She-Hulks (no, that's not all of them), the original She-Hulk (Jen Walters) and Lyra, the young daughter of a Hulk from a distant future in a parallel dimension (or some such thing that makes my head hurt if I think too long about it).

Issue #4 has some nice moments, particularly two talks Jen and Lyra have together before and after the school dance. The two work well together, although I'd like Jen to have a little more to do here than simply be the voice of wisdom (and kick-ass in two or three panels). There's also some nice humorous touches by the omniscient narrator but I've also got to find fault with writer Harrison Wilcox for a trite moral lesson to end the series on a down note.

If you haven't been reading it there's no reason to pick it up. If you have you probably enjoy the character of Lyra more than me (or at least care enough to remember who she is). Or maybe I'm just Hulked out from all the Hulksanity that's been running wild over the Marvel Universe the past few months (years?). Hit-and-Miss.

[Marvel $2.99]

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Gotham City Sirens #19

The latest issue of Gotham City Sirens is split up into two-halves. The first half concludes the Talia/Zatanna tale and the problem over the dangerous knowledge Catwoman carries.

The second half of the issue deals with the fallout from that encounter, the sirens getting a new pad, and Selina and Harley sitting down together for a heart-to-heart that leads one of them off the deep end. (I'll give you one guess as to which one.)

It's here where the sane, clinical side of Harley is shown (right before she journeys on another trip to crazytown). Given her various antics, it's easy to forget the character was a psychologist before falling for the Joker and it's nice to see that part of here honored here in her attempt to help a friend in need.

I also enjoyed how writer Peter Calloway juxtaposed the Catwoman/Batman relationship with that of Harley and the Joker. Harley's internalizing of the pain Selina has endured at her relationship with a man who wouldn't and couldn't give himself to her fully sparks the crazy fires one more time as Harley sets out to find Mr. J. for a final confrontation. It's not a great issue but the scene between Catwoman and Harley alone makes it worth a look.

[DC $2.99]

Get Over It

For the week leading up to Valentine's Day I went scavenged through RazorFine's database and collected a few Valentine's Week posts and reviews for the week. Here's my review for Get Over It, for more daily V-Day posts head here.

Ah…teenage love and loss. When Ben is dumped by his girlfriend he’ll do whatever it takes to win her back including signing up for the high school play - “Midsummer Nights Dream - The Musical” directed by Martin Short! A funny teen comedy; think that’s an oxymoron? Well think again…

Ever been dumped and are unwilling to let the other person go? Get Over It tells the story of a guy who loses his girl and will do anything to get her back even making a complete jackass of himself by singing outside her window and joining the school play not even noticing that maybe the one helping him, his friend’s little sister, just might be a better match for him.

Berke Landers (Ben Foster) has just been dumped by his longtime girlfriend Allison (Melissa Sagemiller), which is followed by one of the best opening credit sequences in recent movie history.

Berke doesn’t take the rejection well and becomes even more determined to get his girl back after he sees Striker (Shane West), a one-time boy band teen heart-throb, putting the moves on Allison.

When they both try out for the school play Berke enlists the help of Kelly (Kirsten Dunst), the younger sister of his best friend Felix (Colin Hanks). As Kelly spends most of the movie helping, and crushing over, Berke, Felix spends most of the movie trying to get Berke past Allison, including setting him up with the class klutz (Kylie Bax), a guys night out at a local strip club (with a cameo from Carmen Electra), and a party thrown in Berke’s home.

Of course all of Felix’s good intentions end in disaster.

The movie is a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and besides the hilarious musical version performed on stage directed by Dr. Desmond Forrest Oates (played to the hilt by Martin Short), we also get Berke’s dream sequences that take place in that world. Other stories include Berke’s friend Dennis (Sisqo) and his infatuation with Kelly’s friend Basin (Mila Kunis) and the rather lax parenting style of Berke’s parents (Ed Begley Jr. and Swoosie Kurtz).

Okay, the film’s not Shakespeare but it’s a darn good time. I enjoy the fact that the main actors that are cast (Foster, Sagemiller, Hanks, Kunis, and Dunst) look like high school students and not Noxema models. Also fun is how well the story plays on Shakespeare’s theme while making the story it’s own. Up and down the cast is outstanding, even Sisqo - who’s thankfully given a very small role.

It’s a fun little romantic teen comedy that has no business being as entertaining as it is. The movie’s helped out by wonderful supporting performances, especially by Martin Short, and one of the worst ideas for a high school musical ever, and the DVD has some nice extras make it worth checking out. If you enjoy teen romantic comedies or just have to see what “Midsummer Night’s Dream - The Musical” would look like performed by high school students then go grab a copy on DVD.


From last night's Castle comes this mashup taking the rapping of two murder suspects and intercutting them with Castle (Nathan Fillion) and Beckett (Stana Katic) working undercover at a club earlier in the episode.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Secret Six #30

Scandal Savage and Liana decide to arrange Bane's first date by hooking him up with one of the other dancers at Liana's strip club. The results are BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!

The Secret Six take on the Doom Patrol in the middle of a river that's home to a mutated half-man/half-fish creature. And then there's the story of a full-time loser with nothing is left a destiny by his dying grandfather - a particle cannon and the seed of idea to bring glamor and style back to the world of crime. That, and a secret hideout inside a exploded volcano (which may not be as dormant as he believes).

The first-half of a two-part crossover with the Doom Patrol, this one's got it all (even a team of sexy parachuting female suicide bombers). Manic action from the first page to the last, writer Gail Simone shoots from both barrels here with both dark humor and the kind of ass kicking only the Secret Six can deliver. Must-read.

[DC $2.99]

Comic Rack

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

This week includes Atomic Robo Deadly Art of Science, Batgirl, Batman and Robin, Betty, Birds of Prey, Carnage, Deadpool Team-Up, The Flash, G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero, Osborn, Red Robin, Starborn, The Walking Dead, Warlord of Mars, X-Factor, the first issues of Avengers: Earths Mightiest Heroes, Cinderella: Fables are Forever, Deus Ex, Hack/Slash, Onslaught Unleashed, Power Man and Iron Fist, Sherlock Holmes: Year One, SpongeBob Comics, Star Trek: Infestation, and the final issues of Assassins Creed: The Fall, Hotwire: Deep Cut, and Widowmaker.

Enjoy issue #114

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Company Men

Written and directed by John Wells, former West Wing showrunner and once president of the Writers Guild of America, The Company Men takes a look at three men each effected when the company which has employed them for years begins massive downsizing that eventually leaves each of them without a job.

Ben Affleck stars as the hot-shot salesman with a wife (Rosemarie DeWitt) and family who can't accept his new situation and becomes increasingly frustrated when no new opportunities for employment present themselves. Chris Cooper is the longtime company man who worked his way from the factory floor to the boardroom. And Tommy Lee Jones is the best friend of company owner (Craig T. Nelson) who dislikes his life, the compromises being made in the company he helped start, and a wife whose only cares seem to be opportunities to shop - which explains why he prefers the spending time with the company's hatchet woman (Maria Bello) instead.

The majority of the first-half of the flm deals with Bobby's firing and the effect it has on his family as he struggles to find a job, meets new friends in a job placement center, and eventually swallows his pride and begins working construction for his brother-in-law (Kevin Costner). This part of the tale plays out as you'd expect: a jerk who's had it too easy for years learns to swallow his pride and make sacrifices as his family rallies around him.

These scenes are inter-cut with Cooper's fear of being let go and Jones' relationship with Bello. Early on the film struggles to fine a consistent rhythm and pace. It's only when the other two find themselves in similar circumstances as Affleck's character that the film really finds itself.

The Company Men is a solid film without many surprises. If you don't know where each of these characters is going to end up by the end of the movie you simply aren't paying attention. That doesn't mean the journey is worth watching. The performances are all solid and the relationships between the characters are more complicated than a simple word or deed can fix. No one here is perfect; I enjoyed how the film let each character be petty at times.

It's certainly not in the league with Up in the Air (my favorite movie of 2009). Although the dialogue is a bit clunky, and at times it feels a little too much like Wells is hand-holding us through the story, The Company Men does a good job in delivering the frustration, anger, and loss each of these three individuals are feeling. Even if the words aren't always right, the emotion behind them is (even if movie smells more than a little like Oscar-bait to my trained nose).