Friday, April 29, 2011

Fast Five

There's insane and then there's INSANE. Every time I thought the latest edition of The Fast and the Furious franchise had hit the limits of insanity they proved me wrong and found new ways to defy logic, common sense, and basic laws of nature. There's a scene in last summer big-budget version of The A-Team where the team attempts to fly a tank that is falling through the air. The last twenty-minutes or so of Fast Five feel a lot like that.

With the exception of Michelle Rodriguez (whose character was killed off in the last installment), Fast Five brings together all the major characters of each of the films and picks up right where Fast & Furious left off with springing Turetto (Vin Diesel) from a prison bus.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Awesome Characters - Veronica Mars

" I used to think I knew what tore our family apart. Now I'm sure I don't. But I promise this: I will find out what really happened, and I will bring this family back together again. I'm sorry, is that mushy? Well, you know what they say. Veronica Mars, she's a marshmallow."

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.

Once part of the cool crowd, now totally embracing her outsider status, Veronica Mars was everything you wanted her to be, and more.

The daughter of a private detective and town's former sheriff (Enrico Colantoni), haunted by a dead best friend (Amanda Seyfried), and in love with a boy (Teddy Dunn) who may or may not be her brother and the rich guy (Jason Dohring) who is trouble written in large letters. Let's just say not all of her choices were good ones - but they were all made from the heart.

Harry Potter and the final trailer

The end is nigh! Check out the trailer for the final film in the Harry Potter franchise featuring Harry's (Daniel Radcliffe) final confrontation with Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and his unresolved homosexual feelings towards Ronald Weasley (Rupert Grint). Okay, I might be making the second part up. Emma WatsonHelena Bonham CarterGary OldmanTom Felton, Bonnie Wright, and Alan Rickman all return as well. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 hits theaters everywhere on July 15th.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Power Girl #23

Superman and Power Girl finally discover who's behind the magic dinosaurs rampaging across the city. Problem is, it's Zatanna.

Okay, it's not actually Zatanna. It's a magic-stealing douchebag (I believe that's the clinical term for his condition) who is trying to copy Zatanna's powers and incorporate them into his own. Let's just say Zatanna, Power Girl, and Superman might have something to say about that.

Also in this issue we finally see Power Girl's new, and safe for public consumption, alter-ego Karen Starr. Despite the risks Power Girl has decided to go public in her other, less-super, identity, but she has made a few changes to help disguise the buxom blonde-haired super-woman from the public.

It's not a great issue, but it does have magic dinosaurs and a pretty good appearance by Zatanna (who keeps to my rule that she's far more interesting guest-starring in other books than in her own current monthly title). Worth a look.

[DC, $2.99]

Darkwing Duck #11

Although it might not be as good as last month's issue (which was the best issue of the series so far - and one of the best comics I've read in 2011), this one's still brings the fun as Darkwing Duck, Steelbeak, and Femme Appeal make their way through the secret fortress of F.O.W.L.

The issue spends quite a bit of its time wrapping up of the cool ideas and story elements introduced in issue #10, including the giant robotic Walrus and Gosalyn and Honker's confrontation with Ammonia Pine, before giving us an inevitable betrayal that leaves our hero at the mercy of Duckthulu (who has converted most of St. Canard into his mindless zombies - including Launchpad).

We'll have to wait another month for the conclusion of the Duckthulu arc. I've enjoyed this storyline, but I'm ready for a new story arc. Even if this issue can't quite live up to the insane level of awesome of last month it's still definitely worth a look.

[Boom, $3.99]


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

We're ready to believe you

Super Dinosaur #1

Okay, it's a comic book entitled Super Dinosaur about a super-smart kid and his best pal who just so happens to be a smallish nine-foot tall Tyrannosaurus Rex in robot armor who helps save the world. What's not to like?

The comic centers around Derek Dynamo, the son of struggling uber inventor and discoverer of "Inner Earth' (a hidden world in the center of the Earth where dinosaurs still exist) - Doctor Dynamo. Making modifications to his father's work Derek and Super Dinosaur work together to to the legion of dinosaurs under the control of evil scientist Max Maximus from grabbing control of the powerful, and dangerous, DynOre.

Okay, so it's not Shakespeare. What it is, however, is fun! This series regathers the team of writer Robert Kirkman and artist Jason Howard who gave us The Astounding Wolf-Man. This comic has much the same feel (including the possibility of the fun being weighed down at times by somewhat shaky storylines). If you liked Astounding Wolf-Man, which I did, then this one should be right up your alley.

As a first issue should, this one really lays out the enter world of Derek Dynamo and his relationship to his father and his reptilian best-friend. I'm a little less sure of the family assigned to their base, and the villains themselves, but there's certainly enough here for me to give this one a good long look.

[Image, $2.99]

The Spirit #13

The three-part storyline featuring "The Professor" (a villain who uses toys, robots, and automotons to kill - think the Toyman only creepier) concludes. Once again it's Ellen Dolan who steps up to save the The Spirit by destroying a robot created in her likeness.

This issue has all kinds of creepy sexual undertones (as to how the Professor planned to use this copy of Ellen Dolan), but it's also balanced with tension, mystery, and fun which makes sure it never becomes too unseemly.

Although the epilogue makes sure we'll never see the character of the Professor again, which I'm a little sad about, it's the right choice. Writer David Hine foreshadowed the tragic end of the character over the course of the last couple of issues and presents us with a moral to the story: Never scorn a woman, even a robotic one.

The Professor may have been defeated, but the man who hired him, New York gang boss Shonder Zeev, is still out there. We'll have to see how this larger storyline plays out over the next few issues. Worth a look.

[DC, $2.99]

Another Earth trailer

Written and directed by Mike Cahill, Another Earth earned a standing ovation at this year's Sundance Film Festival. In the film, the discovery of an alternate planet Earth will effect the lives of a young astrophysics student (Brit Marling) and a composer (William Mapother) who are linked by one tragic night. Jordan BakerFlint Beverage, and Robin Taylor also star. Start looking for this one when it hits theaters on July 20th.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Avengers #12

The final issue of the Infinity Gauntlet story arc begins and ends with a little slight of hand. Personally, I would have liked the Thanos storyline to play out in a different way, but what we get here certainly works (even if it is slightly disappointing).

We also get all the Infinity Gems joined together for the first time in years and under the control of a single master - Iron Man. Once all the gems are assembled together Stark faces the same dilemma of everyone who has worn the gauntlet - do I use this power to fix the world? Although not that surprising, his conclusion is dramatically well told and does line up with Stark's personality. There's no question, this is the choice he would make.

In the end the Hood goes back to jail, the Red Hulk becomes a permanent member of the Avengers, and we see Steve Rogers making a compromise he wouldn't have made three or four years ago. It may not be as good as the last issue, but it's still worth a look.

[Marvel, $3.99]

30 Minutes or Less red band trailer

Jesse Eisenberg reteams with Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer in this dark comedy about a pizza boy (Eisenberg) and his best friend (Aziz Ansari)  who are forced to rob a bank by a pair of criminals (Danny McBrideNick Swardson) who strap a bomb to the pizza boy's chest. Bianca KajlichMichael PeñaFred Ward, and Dilshad Vadsaria also star. 30 Minutes or Less hits theaters on August 12th. NOTE: This is the red band trailer, so be warned it is NSFW.

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 Action Comics, Angel, Batman Incorporated, Captain America, Deadpool, Detective Comics, Doctor Who, FF, Green Arrow, Incorruptible, Incredible Hulks, Scalped, Star Wars: Legacy - War, the first issues of Danger Girl and The Army Of Darkness, Netherworld, Planet of the Apes, Ruse, The Strange Case of Mr Hyde, X-23, X-Men, and the final issues of Age of X: Universe, Brightest Day, Echoes, Justice League: Generation Lost, Locke & Key: Keys To The Kingdom, Osborn, The New York Five, Thunderstrike, Turf, and Velocity.

Enjoy issue #125

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Booster Gold... in it for the fame, fortune, and the chicks.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Friday, April 22, 2011


...does not eat Nachos!

Booster Gold comes to Smallville

That's right Booster Gold, along with Blue Beetle (or the ridiculous Smallvillian versions of them) hit Smallville tonight. Check out the promo for Booster and pics of both.

Batman says...

...crazed ballerinas should go home.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Reason #77 Why I Love DS9 - Empok Nor

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

Reason #77: "Empok Nor"

New X-Men: First Class international trailer

Okay, X-fans take a gander at this new version of the X-Men: First Class international trailer. The film hits theaters everywhere this June.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Chuck Versus the Wedding Planner

The theme of this week's episode, "Chuck Versus the Wedding Planner," was fathers and daughters. After Chuck (Zachary Levi) and Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) get taken in a con by their wedding planner they turn to the best con man they know for help - Sarah's father (Gary Cole). In the B-story episode Casey (Adam Baldwin) and his daughter Alex (Mekenna Melvin) decide to tell her mother (Clare Carey) he's still alive. We also get a short sequence with Awesome (Ryan McPartlin) and his baby daughter. What's surprising, in a story about fathers and daughters, is we don't get any movement on Ellie's (Sarah Lancaster) investigation into her father's work.

Although the episode is fun, and more than a little goofy (such as Chuck faking a flash to use CIA resources to find their wedding planner), it's a little weak in spots (such as how easily Chuck and Sarah are taken in by the con and how quickly the situation spirals out of control).

That said, there are some very good moments - particularly the con scenes such as the team working together to con three brothers out of Iran's nuclear codes. The flashbacks with a young Sarah and her dad also give us a better understanding of her strained relationship to her father (as well as give us a great idea for a Girl Scout con).

It's the final scene with Sarah alone in the bedroom that really puts the episode over the top. Not only is it great way to end the episode, but it foreshadows what it might mean for these two characters down the line. I'm hopeful we'll see Gary Cole at least one more time to give Sarah and her father the on-screen moment they really deserve.

Cinderella: Fables are Forever #3

Month after month Cinderella: Fables are Forever continues to be a pleasant surprise. Who would have thought a fairy tale princess turned super spy would make such a fun read? And Cinderella, master spy, has somehow quickly become one of my favorite current leading ladies in comics.

In the latest issue Cinderella's search for Dororthy Gale continues. Issue #3 also delivers a few more flashbacks filling in the years between the character's interactions to give us an idea what Dorothy has been doing since she left Oz. I like that the pair seem evenly matched, though Dorothy's insanity and bloodthirsty nature give her a definite advantage.

The confrontation with the Chiss (think giant porcupine) has a satisfactory, even humorous, conclusion and Cinderella decides the only way to track down the elusive assassin is to put herself inside spider's den. The spy has made herself the bait, but that's fine with me. I'm ready to go wherever she wants to lead. Worth a look.

[Vertigo, $2.99]

Birds of Prey #11

Since it's relaunch I've had mixed feelings with Birds of Prey. When compared to writer Gail Simone's other major title I've always preferred Secret Six. Until now. Of course, the fact that the entire issue revolves around Catman may have something to do with that.

The issue is centered around the Huntress and Catman reconnecting, and spending the night together working to track down a small gang of thieves. The mutual attraction we saw back in the previous volume of Birds of Prey is still present, as are Helena's growing concerns with the changes to Thomas Blake.

The story's climax is more convoluted than I'd like, but I actually like this pair together. It's also nice to see the screwed-up but still noble side of Catman that's been missing since before the storyline involving the kidnapping his son. I also quite enjoyed the final conversation between Catman and Deadshot. Their friendship (something else I've been missing from Secret Six lately), definitely deserves more page time. Worth a look.

[DC, $2.99]

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Justice League: Generation Lost #23 (of 24)

Batman has rejoined the team, they've finally found Wonder Woman... and all hell has just broken loose. Maxwell Lord has begun his endgame by releasing the OMAC Prime with one purpose: to kill Wonder Woman.

As super-evil-mastermind-plans go it's a little anti-climactic, but there's plenty of action this time around as Max has used the JLI once again to his own ends. Now he's located Wonder Woman and only the former Justice Leaguers stand in his way to completing his revenge.

This still leaves quite a bit to be taken care of in the maxi-series' extra-sized finale including 99.9% of the world's heroes not knowing who Maxwell Lord is, oh, and saving Wonder Woman, too.

However this ends, and I feel pretty safe in assuming Wonder Woman isn't going to die, writer Judd Winick has given us a DC year-long event I really enjoyed. I'm going to be sorry when this one's over. Worth a look.

[DC, $2.99]

Amazing Spider-Man #658

With this issue we get yet another "first day with the Future Foundation" story. Not that I mind, but how much blood can Marvel squeeze from a stone? The story showcases Spider-Man being thrust into several missions all at once, but it does start off with a very questionable opening joke.

Spidey shows up for his first real day on the job wearing a modified Fantastic Four costume, much to the horror and disgust of his new teammates. Is it a funny joke? Sure, but it's also completely oblivious and far from the what we'd expect from the current Peter Parker who took Franklin Richards under his wing and shared his grief with the rest of the FF.

I have to say the amount of whining Spidey does in this issue troubles me a little. It looks like the decision is to make Peter far more kid-like than we've seen him in recent years in an attempt to better the team dynamic (which I think is a really, really bad idea). We also get the first rumblings of a major problem with Peter and Carlie's relationship which could lead to a big confrontation in the next issue. Worth a look.

[Marvel, $3.99]

Country Strong

Coming out of rehab (again) country music star Kelly Canter (Gwyneth Paltrow) hits the road with her manager and husband (Tim McGraw), and two young aspiring stars (Garrett Hedlund, Leighton Meester) on a comeback tour.

The film's running time is under two hours but it feels much longer as the characters and plot struggle to make their way to the story's climactic performance in Dallas.

The performances are solid, but nothing special. The music is more country pop than country, and both Paltrow and Meester are adequate at performing them. However, neither the songs nor the performances will make you buy the soundtrack. And the story itself, aside from the ending (which serves up a very questionable message), is all to predictable.

Although the version I viewed contained no extras (not even the trailer was included), some version do include deleted scenes, the film's original ending, an extended musical performance, and cast and crew featurettes.

Is it worth a quick rent? Only if you're a huge fan of one or more of these stars and simply have nothing better to do for a couple of hours. Country Strong is a trainwreck that wants to be a great drama about the struggles of alcohol and drugs, the price of fame, life on tour, and the world of country music. It's too bad it comes up short in almost every department.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Batgirl #20

This issue marks the end of "Team Batgirl" as we've known it. Oracle pulls back, trusting that Stephanie Brown and Proxy can stand on their own and take down Slipstream and solve the mystery of the Reapers.

I understand the idea of Barabara stepping away to let Steph stand on her own two feet, but I have to say I'm disappointed that the relationship between the two Batgirls, which has been central to the comic's success, seems to be going away.

On the positive side, we do get a good wrap up to "The Lesson: Tunnel Vision" and Stephanie learns she can stand on her own without relying on Oracle. Good for her, but is it wrong of me to still want her to?

Even if the central relationship to the comic seems to be going away, it's tongue-in-cheek humor is still very much in display here (including an impatient Steph struggling to get through class). Batgirl also creates some new super-duper Batarangs and takes her new ride, "The Compact," out on its first mission. Worth a look.

[DC, $2.99]

Sleeping Beauty (2011) trailer

Writer/director Julia Leigh reimagines the classic tale of Sleeping Beauty as a modern day erotic tale of sexual discovery (anybody else get a Wild Orchid vibe from the trailer?). Sucker Punch's Emily Browning stars as a college student who takes a job at a high end bordello where old men pay for an erotic experience in the world of her dreams. Rachael Blake, Ewen Leslie, Peter Carroll, Chris Haywood, Henry Nixon, and Mirrah Foulkes also star. Sleeping Beauty will make it's debut at the Cannes Film Festival in May. As you would expect, the trailer is slightly NSFW.

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 Avengers, Batman, Darkwing Duck, Deadpool MAX, Fables, Generation Hope, G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero, Gotham City Sirens, Green Lantern, The Green Hornet, Hack/Slash, Hellblazer, The Last Phantom, Power Girl, Sigil, Silver Surfer, The Spirit, Teen Titans, X-Factor, the first issues of Dark Horse Presents, Halo: Fall Of Reach - Covenant, Malignant Man, Marvel Backlist Chronology, Suicide Girls, Super Dinosaur, Zombies Vs Robots: Undercity, and the final issues of Mass Effect: Evolution, Twilight Guardian, and Wolverine & Jubilee.

Enjoy issue #124

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Friday, April 15, 2011


Rio is by all accounts a very traditional animated feature. We get likable stars in the form of cute animals, a few big musical numbers, stories centered around friendship and true love, and even a menacing villain or two. Although the film doesn't stray too far off the path of what we've seen (many) times before, Rio delivers a colorful film and its share of fun.

The story centers around Blu (Jesse Eisenberg), a domesticated Spinx Macaw who never learned to fly. Blu travels from his cozy home in Minnesota to the Brazilian wilderness with his owner Linda (Leslie Mann) when an ornithologist (Rodrigo Santoro) convinces them to help save Blu's endangered species.

I would have liked to have seen more of Linda and Blu's life together in Minnesota. After a brief introduction, we only get a montage of the two growing up together and then a single scene before moving onto to their adventure. Although the film has plenty of relationships, this is the one that held the most promise, and is sadly interrupted by the series of events which follow.

In Brazil, Blu meets the only other known Blue Macaw, the feisty Jewel (Anne Hathaway). Let's just say their first meeting doesn't go quite as well as the ornithologist hoped. The two immediately start fighting, despite an obvious attraction, and being chained together doesn't help either of their dispositions. Anybody want to take money on these wacky kids ending up together?

Blu and Jewl soon finds themselves on a much wilder adventure than either of them bargained for which includes smugglers, crazed monkeys, and an evil cockatoo (Jemaine Clement). With the help of a toucan (George Lopez), a bulldog (Tracy Morgan), a canary (Jamie Foxx), and a cardinal (Will i Am), Blu and Jewel try to stay alive long enough to remove the chain which binds them together and get on with their lives.

In old school Disney fashion the movie contains quite a few musical numbers with several of the characters bursting into song. The music fits the locale of Rio de Janeiro as well as the tone of the story, but none of the songs, individually or as a group, are at all memorable. Much like the movie, you'll most likely enjoy them momentarily and then promptly forget them after leaving the theater.

I will say I enjoyed the film's look which is an explosion of color. In terms of high quality animation it might not measure up to Pixar or Disney's best, but it does provide a vivid setting partaking of a wide palette of colors. This should appeal especially to young children, although the somewhat convoluted plot and meandering of the story might also put them off.

The screening I attended was in 3D, and although it's competently done and far better than some of the retrofitted films put out recently, there's nothing here that demands you see it in an extra dimension (especially at a higher ticket price). You'd be just as well off paying the regular price, or even waiting to catch this one on DVD or Blu-ray.

Rio is far from a must-see, but if you're looking for a spring flick to take the kids to, or simply a colorful adventure to take your mind off things for about 90 minutes, then it just might be what you're looking for. This is Disney light (like all of Blue Sky Studios' animated features). So keep your expectations low, sit back and enjoy the pretty birds, and you should have an okay time.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Catman... the gist.


He may have been killed off in IDW Publishing's current comic run, but Cobra Commander can still be yours with this detailed Premium Format Action Figure from Sideshow Collectibles.

Chuck is Fan-tastic

At least according to TV Guide's Fan Favorite Awards. NBC's Chuck (which unbelievably is on the fence once again facing possible cancellation) took home awards for Best Actress (Yvonne Strahovski), Best Couple "Who Have" (Strahovski and Zachary Levi), and Best Villain (Timothy Dalton). As Chuck's brother-in-law would say, that's awesome dude! I'll also give a shout out to Castle's Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic who took home the award for Best Couple "Who Should" (yes please!), and the entire cast of The Big Bang Theory who took home awards for Best Comedy.

For all of you still looking forward to the Green Lantern movie

Is it just me or do you find it tremendously sad that the clips for Green Lantern so perfectly fit the theme song to Pokémon?

Indeed it is, sir

Another Gavril moment. It's not that I haven't liked Rocket Red in the past, but I'm surprised how much I like the current incarnation in Judd Winick's Justice League: Generation Lost. I'm not sure what's going to happen to all these characters once Generation Lost ends, but hopefully those without their own books (like Gavril) will be able to carve out their own spot in the DCU. (And I certainly wouldn't object to seeing more between Gavril and Fire).

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Usagi Yojimbo #136

The rabbit ronin's travels lead him to cross paths with Suzuki-Sensei, a friend to his master Katsuichi, and moves further into the countryside that is threatened by the attacks of the mysterious and deadly Red Scorpion Gang (which may be far closer than Usagi Yojimbo realizes).

As we've come to expect, Stan Sakai delivers another strong issue. I especially enjoyed the duel between Usagi and Suzuki-Sensei in front of his students, and the split-second decision Usagi must make whether or not to win the match. Usagi makes the right decision, which may prove more important than he realizes as this storyline continues.

This issue begins a multi-story arc and the final page delivers all we need to know about the troubles the rabbit ronin has in store for him next month. If you haven't been reading Usagi (what's wrong with you?) this is actually a really good story to jump in and get your feet wet with the character and his world. Worth a look.

[Dark Horse, $3.50]

Annihilators #2

The second issue is full of action as Silver Surfer, Beta Ray Bill, Gladiator, Quasar, Ronan the Accuser and the Space Knights battle Doctor Dredd and the Dire Wraiths.

In the B-story Rocket Raccoon rescues his friend Groot from the Isle of Punishment only to discover he's put every living thing on Planet X in terrible danger. More clown assassins, psycho woodpeckers, some awfully good puns, an annoying computer, and our first glimpses into the secrets of Rocket Raccoon's past make this one impossible to put down.

Both stories get equal time this time around and both provide great moments. The cosmic level of the Annihilators matched with the craziness of Rocket and Groot is a great combination. The level of adorableness Timothy Green II infuses the art the B-story with (particularly the look of Rocket Raccoon) is just wonderful. If you only bought one comic this week I hope it was this one. It's rare I'm happy paying $5 for a single issue, but this time I think I got my money's worth. Must-read.

[Marvel, $4.99]

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Secret Six #32

The Secret Six continue their journey through Hell, to rescue Knockout and find Ragdoll, and Catman takes a side trip to poke a demon in the eyes and visit someone from his past. I'll be glad with this storyline is over.

It's not a bad story, in fact it has a couple nice turns, but every story that takes in Hell, be it DC, Marvel, or any other comic publisher, is limited by design. And too often writers trying to tell a tale in Hell quickly write themselves into a corner. I'm hoping that's not the case here with Gail Simone, but I'll admit after two issues I have my doubts.

I'd much rather see the Six back in action in Gotham City than traipsing through the underworld. The storyline I enjoyed most was the all-too-short look into Scandal Savage's recent squeeze which seems far more ominous than the team's struggles down below.

The last panel does give us a bit of a surprise and should make the final issue of this storyline worth reading, but I'll just be glad when things get back to "normal" for the team. Hit-and-Miss.

[DC, $2.99]

Rio premiere press conference

The stars (Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Jamie Foxx, Will i Am, Sergio Mendes) and director Carlos Saldanha discuss Rio at the film's world premiere in Rio de Janeiro. Check back on Friday for my review when the film hits theaters everywhere.

Fear Itself #1 (of 7)

Although I liked this issue more than I thought I would, I was surprised at the amount of effort writer Matt Fraction went to try and convince me how epic Marvel's latest summer event Fear Itself will be (ex: giving seemingly everyone who works at Marvel Comics credit on the title page). For a story centered around Odin and the Red Skull's daughter, you'll have to forgive me if I'm not yet ready to drink the Kool-Aid just yet.

The story begins with Sin, having adopted the persona of her late father the Red Skull, breaking into a secret Nazi base to retrieve the Hammer of Skadi. On taking possession of the hammer Sin is tranformed, still herself, but also imbued with the presence and power of the former god. Sin uses the hammer to release the "true All Father" from his prison and help him take his revenge on Odin and Asgard.

Also in this first issue we get the falling out of Odin and Thor, Tony Stark's determination to help the economy by rebuilding Asgard on Earth, and the total ineptitude of Steve Rogers to prevent a riot. Although the Sin story works well enough, I had problems with each of these pieces.

Let's start with the fracture between Odin and Thor which feels all too familiar (especially given that the Thunder God's new film will also play on this theme) and more than a little awkward given Odin's foreknowledge of the trouble ahead. Although the Stark storyline of gathering support to rebuild Asgard works better, it's completely thrown away by the end of this first issue.

And don't even get me started on the former Captain America and Sharon Carter's failure to stop a riot. I understand Marvel's idea here to play on current events, the struggling economy, and the disenfranchised populace, but the difference between our world and Marvel's is the super-heroes. And that's a pretty big difference.

Are you honestly telling me Rogers has never been put in such a situation and can't handle it better than what we're shown? Especially when he's got the Avengers and all of New York's super-heroes to call in for help? I understand the idea Fraction is trying to use here, but rather than making it seem like the world is starting to fall apart it seems like the heroes are completely overwhelmed by everyday situations and moving far too slow given their abilities and years of experience. The preachiness of it also felt more than a little forced, at least to me.

I liked this first issue more than I thought it would, especially the Sin storyline, but I'm far from convinced this isn't going to get worse before it gets better. Hit-and-Miss.

[Marvel, $3.99]

Monday, April 11, 2011

Deadpool Family

It only took me a couple pages of this one-shot to remember why I stopped reading Deadpool Corps. Sometimes stories featuring these characters can be fun, but sometimes they can be excruciating to read.

The issue is broken into four separate stories surrounding various Corps members. Kidpool attempts to join in on robot fun with the other kids (mildly entertaining), Lady Deapool and Zombie Deadpool go to counseling (I wanted to stab out my eyes), and Deadpool himself is presented in a serious cheap Frank Miller style noir that has far less gravity than it should given the choice of main character and the rest of the antics on display here (all around bad idea).

Although the Kidpool one is passable (barely), the only one of the four stories that I can actually say I enjoyed was the insanity of Dogpool going against Sunny the Sentry Dog, written by James Asmus. Yeah, that was fun. The rest I could give or take (or line a birdcage with). Hit-and-Miss.

[Marvel, $3.99]

Anonymous trailer

Director Roland Emmerich trades in disaster porn for conspiracy theory in his latest film which postulates that the works attributed to William Shakespeare (Rafe Spall) were  actually written by Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (Rhys Ifans). Vanessa Redgrave, Joely Richardson, David Thewlis, and Xavier Samuel also star. Anonymous opens in theaters on September 30th.

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 Amazing Spider-Man, Batgirl, Batman and Robin, Birds of Prey, Booster Gold, Carbon Grey, Cinderella: Fables are Forever, Deadpool, Farscape, Northlanders, The Flash, Lone Ranger: The Death of Zorro, New Avengers, Red Robin, Red Sonja: Revenge of the Gods, Secret Warriors, Spawn, Uncanny X-Force, Uncanny X-Men, the first issues of Elephantmen Cover Stories, Nevermore, The Walking Dead Survivors' Guide, and the final issues of Broken Trinity: Pandoras Box, Casanova: Gula, Dark Tower: The Gunslinger - The Little Sisters of Eluria, and Sweets.

Enjoy issue #123

Friday, April 8, 2011

Soul Surfer

Based on the experiences of Bethany Hamilton (played here by AnnaSophia Robb), Soul Surfer tells the story of a young girl who lost her arm to a shark attack which threatened to end a promising amateur surfing career.

The main focus of the film is Bethany's struggle, and that of her family and friends, to come to grips with with what has happened and her attempt to move forward. It's a little too Hallmark Hall of Fame for my tastes, and more than a little formulaic, but there's definitely an audience for this type of movie.

The young protagonist faces hardship, learns something new about herself and the world, has her faith tested and then renewed, and eventually comes out stronger for the experience. Sound familiar? That's because it is.

Helen Hunt and Dennis Quaid star as Bethany's parents, and both do well to present the emotion called for in each scene, even if at times the dialogue lets them down. The movie does get the feel of the entire family, including Bethany's best friend (Lorraine Nicholson) and her father (Kevin Sorbo), just right.

The only time the film feels forced is with its hamfisted religious message. I don't mind that the film is centered around faith or religion. What I do mind is that it in these scenes the message is presented with all the subtlety of a punch to the groin.

Carrie Underwood has a small role as Bethany's youth counselor and all I can say is it's a good thing she has a lucrative career as a singer. In a film filled with average to good performances this is the one that nearly sinks the enterprise. This is as bad a performance by a first-time actor in her big screen debut as any I can remember since Cindy Crawford in Fair Game.

It's really up to Robb to carry the film, and thankfully she's up to the challenge. The story demands for the character to take us with her through a range of emotion, and for the most part Robb is able to do just that. We'll have to wait and see if this can be the breakthough role for her that Blue Crush was for Kate Bosworth.

The film feels more than a little like a TV movie of the week, and I could certainly have done with a little more surfing and a little less preaching. It also looks a little cheaper than I'd like in places (some of the closeups for the surfing scenes reminded me of old Annette Funicello/Frankie Avalon beach movies). However, its heart is in the right place and the surfing sequences are fairly well executed (some of surfing is quite impressive).

Soul Surfer has more than its share of flaws. It's certainly not for everyone, and I'd only give it the slightest of recommendations, and then only for those who don't mind getting preached at as well as entertained over the course of the movie's 106-minute running time. Me? I'll take Blue Crush over this one any day.


Directed by Julian Schnabel and adapted from her own novel by Rula Jebreal, Miral is an attempt by the Jewish filmmaker to examine life from the point of view of several Palestinian women after the establishment of the state of Israel.

The film begins with the rescue of 55 orphaned children by Hind Hussein (Hiam Abbass). The children were the first discovered survivors of Deir Yassin Massacre, but within six months the number of children would swell to several thousand.

I'll stop for a second to discuss Hind Hussein, who is definitely worthy of a film dedicated to her life and accomplishments. Using what resources she had, Hussein transformed her grandfather's estate into an orphanage and institute of learning which continues today. Abbass gives a strong performance, even overcoming some questionable old age makeup for the character's later years. But, somewhat to the film's detriment, Hussein isn't the film's main character. In fact, I'm not sure it has one.

Win Win

Win Win is writer/director Thomas McCarthy's weakest effort. Now that might sound bad, but only until you realize the man has put together a pretty impressive resume so far.

McCarthy both wrote and directed The Visitor and The Station Agent, as well as penning the original story Pixar's Up was based on. That's a pretty high mark to live up to, and so I can forgive him if his latest is only a very solid indie flick rather than hands down one of the best films of the year.

Paul Giamatti, in the kind of role he's known for in indie flicks like this, plays lovable loser Mike Flaherty. Mike is a struggling attorney in a small town who helps make ends meet by moonlighting as the wrestling coach for the local high school. He's also dealing with financial problems, stress attacks, and a kind, but needy, elderly client (Burt Young) - all of which he's trying to keep from wife (Amy Ryan) and children (Clare Foley, Sophia Kindred).

Win Win is one of those stories where a confluence of events upturn the life of an ordinary individual, a shortcut always bites you in the ass, everybody learns something important, and the good outweighs the bad in the end. Mike tries to use circumstances to his advantage by fudging the law to use an elderly client's (Young) medical condition and a runaway kid's (Alex Shaffer) natural athletic ability to his advantage.

He isn't a bad person, but takes each opportunity as a way out, even if it means lying to his wife and even a judge. When forced to confront his lies and half-truths he has no reasonable explanation to fall back on, but somehow we know everything will work itself out in the end.

One of McCarthy's intriguing choices for this film is to cast wrestlers, not actors, for the roles on high school team under the idea it would be easier to teach a wrestler to do some acting than the other way around. This turns out to work well in the wrestling scenes, but does come back to bite him a bit when Shaffer and the other kids are asked to emote more than teenage angst. The performances of the wrestlers aren't bad, but I did begin to wonder what more seasoned actors might have done with these roles.

The script has some humor, some of which is dark (and some which I would like to be much darker), as well as some nice supporting performances over the course of the film including Young, Melanie Lynskey, and Bobby Cannavale and Jeffrey Tambor as Mike's bickering friends and assistant coaches.

Win Win is a well-made indie flick that in the end isn't all that memorable. It doesn't have the weight of The Visitor or the impact of The Station Agent (or even the wit of Up). I had a fine time, but even a few days later I was struggling to remember specific scenes and dialogue. It's definitely worth a look, and I did enjoy myself. Perhaps I'm doing it a disservice by trying to hold McCarthy to his earlier successes, but I wanted a little more from this one.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Awesome Characters - Wilma Deering

"Oh Buck Rogers, does that mean that we will be together for always?"

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

She was the Girl Friday for the future, a hellova fighter pilot, a stalwart defender of Earth, and a true friend to Buck Rogers. And for those who grew up in the late 1970's and early 1980's there was one, and only one, version of Wilma Deering worth mentioning.

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century gave us the adventures of Captain William "Buck" Rogers who was frozen in time only to be awoken in the year 2491. There he would meet friends, enemies, and more than a few beautiful women in need of his help.

Green Lantern WonderCon footage

Here's a condensed version of the footage of Green Lantern that debuted at WonderCon over the weekend. I know I'm not supposed to have any fear, but this certainly doesn't quell my concerns about GL's big screen debut this summer.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Avengers #11

What's most interesting about this issue is that the entire story is presented from the perspective of Uatu, the Watcher. As the issue begins Parker Robbins holds three of the Infinity Gems. By the issue's end all five of the gems will be located, but the last by a figure you wouldn't expect.

Although the dialogue is limited here, we get plenty of action and quite a bit of narration from the Watcher which gives us insight into the limitations of Parker Robbins' imagination. It's actually a very clever plot device to explain why Robbins is able to beat back the heroes rather easily but at the same time not able to use the full power of the gems. Uatu also gives an important insight into the Red Hulk as well.

Uatu's presence helps underscore the importance of the events and the power of the gems, as does the power of the Mind Gem pitted against the Earth's most powerful telepath - Charles Xavier.

Oh, and the surprise guest who makes his appearance on the final panel? Yeah, that's pretty damn cool, too. Must-read.

[Marvel, $3.99]

Gotham City Sirens #21

Harley Quinn's murderous rage continues as she works herself further and further inside Arkham Asyulm until only one door stands between her and the man she's come to kill - the Joker.

Most of the comic deals with Harley's inner struggle at what she's about to do, her conflicted memories of Mr. J., and the conversation between the loony bird (and I mean that affectionately) and the one guard left in her way.

It's an interesting scene as Harley disarms him, using the guard's past as the weapon she needs to gain access to the Joker's cell. And there she finds nothing, except her own twisted feelings, standing between her and the Joker. Even if the conclusion is a bit obvious, the buildup works quite well.

There's also a B-story as Poison Ivy and Catwoman bicker over whether or not to help their friend. Ivy throws down an ultimatum which Catwoman ignores. Is this the end of the Sirens as we know them or will Catwoman risk everything to help her friends? Worth a look.

[DC, $2.99]

Deadpool Team-Up #883

So who's teaming up with Deadpool this week? A vampire cow? Mexican wrestlers? How about Galactus, the Devour of Worlds? You know, the more insane these get the more I enjoy them.

Out of work and over-his-head in debt, and after being turned down by everyone he knows, the Merc with a Mouth takes a job to be the newest herald of Galactus. Now, you might say Deadpool is uniquely qualified for the job. He certainly loves to create mass chaos and has no qualms about killing, but despite starting out on Galactus' good graces Deadpool's antics (and his inability to shut-up) soon wear thin on one of the most powerful figures in the Marvel Universe.

Deadpool also gets a chance to test out his Power Cosmic against that of Galactus' first herald, the Silver Surfer, who is none too happy with the carnage Deadpool has unleashed. Deadpool might be all over the Marvel Universe, but this is consistently his best book. The final panel alone makes this one worth picking up. Worth a look.

[Marvel, $2.99]