Friday, February 28, 2014

Psych - 1967: A Psych Odyssey

Chief Vick (Kirsten Nelson, who also directed the episode) returns to Santa Barbara to say goodbye by announcing she's taken a new position in San Fransisco. One group hug later, Lassiter (Timothy Omundson) rounds up Shawn (James Roday), Gus (Dulé Hill), Juliet (Maggie Lawson), and Henry (Corbin Bernsen) to investigate an unsolved 1967 homicide in order to impress Mayor Swaggerty (John Kapelos), whose uncle was the victim, and become the SBPD's next Chief of Police. The cast does double duty by playing various roles in 60s flashbacks (including Hill performing as the lead singer of the lounge band) as Lassiter attempt to piece together the case with the help of the remaining living witnesses (Loretta Devine, Peggy Lipton) while becoming increasingly obsessed with solving the crime.

Batman/Superman #8

After pretty much hating the first issue of Batman/Superman I've given the comic a wide berth and haven't looked back. However, the recent cross-over with Worlds' Finest involving the Huntress and Power Girl revealing themselves to this world's versions of their relatives begins here so I found myself picking this issue up (along with Part 2 of the story in Worlds' Finest #20 also released this week). I was pleasantly surprised.

Despite an art style by Jae Lee that doesn't really mesh with much of anything in the New 52 (which from one perspective can certainly be seen as a good thing), writer Greg Pak gets the beats right as Batman is confronted by his daughter from another world who he inherently trusts (but doesn't necessarily trust that he feels that way).

We also see Superman's first meeting with an out-of-control Power Girl who he is determined to help whether she wants his help or not (or whether such efforts could endanger himself). I'm curious to see where this storyline will go. Worth a look.

[DC, $3.99]

Perception - Curveball

Perception returns from its mid-season break with Kate Moretti (Rachael Leigh Cook) bringing Daniel Pierce (Eric McCormack) in on a case involving an autistic train-obsessed teen (Nate Hartley) who is facing murder chargers after he stole a train and ran over a train yard security guard (Andrew Lawrence). Although Pierce sees no intent in the young man's actions he is forced to go to Donnie (Scott Wolf) for a legal excuse to save the young man from a life sentence (which turns out not to be necessary as the episode quickly abandons the autistic killer plot thread in favor of a more complex, but ultimately less original or interesting, murder).

The Wind Rises

Over a lifetime in animation Japanese film director Hayao Miyazaki has made a name for himself as one of the premiere filmmakers of his generation. Although I haven't always loved his films, I found Princess Mononoke too bizarre for my tastes and a bit unwieldy with its 133-minute running time, it's impossible to come out of any Miyazaki film without a profound respect for the talented man who brought them to the screen.

For his final film Miyazaki delivers a love story to aviation in the fictionalized biography of Japanese aircraft designer Jiro Horikoshi (Hideaki Anno), a young man with dreams of building beautiful flying machines who would design the Mitsubishi A5M and Mitsubishi A6M Zero which Japan used during WWII. Adapted from the novel by Hori Tatsuo, The Wind Rises may not quite be the all-ages adventure some might be hoping for, but it beautifully captures the fire of imagination that drives Jiro in his designs and the lively but ill Naoko (Miori Takimoto) whom he falls desperately in love with. As he approaches his life's ambition he feels the other great love of his life slowly fading away.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Happy Birthday Kate Mara

Arrow - Time of Death

While throwing Sara (Caity Lotz) a welcome back from the dead party, Oliver (Stephen Amell) also asks for Black Canary's help to take the mastermind behind meticulously-planned robbery of Kord Industries of a skeleton key which can be re-purposed to break into any bank vault. While Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) struggle with Sara's inclusion in Team Arrow, her impressive skill-set, and Sara picking up her romantic relationship with Oliver, Felicity also attempts to find the Clock King (Robert Knepper) who always seems to be one-step ahead and have one more ace up his sleeve including hacking into, and destroying, the vigilante's computer network.

Mind Games - Pilot

ABC's second attempt at a mid-season replacement in the same time slot (replacing the cancelled Killer Women), Mind Games stars Christian Slater and Steve Zahn as the Edwards brothers struggling to prove their start-up company can make good on its promise to control and manipulate fate to achieve their clients' desired outcome. As premises go it's actually pretty good, although the Pilot episode features a lot of the characters struggling to convey the idea to both investors and the audience and might do well to incorporate some slick CGI work to visually help get their point across (like Numbers, Intelligence, or a number of other shows).

Glee - Frenemies

Friends become enemies as Sue (Jane Lynch) pits Jake (Jacob Artist) and Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) against each other for class valedictorian and in New York Santana (Naya Rivera) puts her relationship with Rachel (Lea Michele) in jeopardy becoming her understudy for Funny Girl (because she's the same age, and not in any way the same type, of the girl the producers chose despite thinking she was too young for the role?), and then taking credit for all of Rachel's success. Meanwhile Kurt (Chris Colfer) frets over Starchild's (Adam Lambert) influence over the band and New Directions settles on solos for Nationals.

Pretty Little Liars - She's Come Undone

Despite revealing Ezra's (Ian Harding) deceit to the rest of the Liars, and the fact that he's been working on a book about Alison's (Sasha Pieterse) murder/disappearance for years (which he claims to believe one of the Liars may be responsible for), Aria (Lucy Hale) refuses to accept the fact that the man she loves could be A. Slowly spiraling out of control, Aria lets herself into Ezra's apartment and begins frantically searching for answers. Not liking what she finds, Aria's time in Ezra's apartment quickly devolves from investigation to trashing her secret boyfriend's apartment.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Person of Interest - Last Call

Finch (Michael Emerson) goes undercover as a 911 Operator to sniff out the threat to The Machine's latest number, a training supervisor (Melissa Sagemiller) in charge of a 911 Call Center who is being blackmailed by a mysterious voice on the other side of the phone and members of a Mexican cartel holding a young child (Julian Shatkin) hostage in order to force the woman to compromise the Call Center. The woman's tragic history involving the loss of a child gives the kidnapper, a ghost who could teach Finch a thing or two about anonymity, the perfect leverage to control the situation and get exactly what he wants.

Intelligence - Delta Force

When a former member of Delta Force (Matt Gerald), and an old friend of Gabriel's (Josh Holloway), begins assassinating presidential candidates in Bolivia, Gabriel, Riley (Meghan Ory), and Jameson (Michael Rady) head to La Paz stop him before he kill his next target (Yancey Arias) and the man's wife (Iris Almario) on the eve of him meeting Undersecretary Jim Sutters (Michael Albala) but when their CIA contract gets shot and blown up and the assassin learns the location of the safehouse things get even more difficult.

Fables #138

In a break before beginning the series next arc in Scotland, Fables #138 gives us a glimpse at the evil machinations of Gepetto who has grown tired of his recent position on the Farm and regain a bit of the power now lost to him. To that end he sends a small wooden soldier into the magic grove which he is barred from entering to retrieve the villain a bit of magic which may aid in his mischief somewhere down the line.

Presented mostly from the view of the noble and faithful knight Gepetto sends on a suicide mission (whose real purpose on the tinkerer truly knows), we see the wooden solider fight off a variety of obstacles (or to his view vicious monsters) before entering the heart of the grove and leaving with a tiny bit of magic which he returns to his master.

Slow simmering, the single issue lays the groundwork for Gepetto's possible return to power sometime down the line while, as he notes, all eyes in Fabletown and the Farm are on threats elsewhere. Worth a look.

[Vertigo, $2.99]

Godzilla trailer

We now have a full-length trailer for this summer's update of Godzilla starring Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth OlsenAaron Taylor-JohnsonVictor RasukJuliette BinocheKen WatanabeDavid Strathairn, and Sally Hawkins also star. Godzilla rises from the depths on May 16th.

The Blacklist - Madeline Pratt

Looking for a bit of revenge, Reddington (James Spader) sicks Lizzie's (Megan Boone) on the latest name in The Blacklist: Madeline Pratt (Jennifer Ehle), a master thief looking to steal a valuable Syrian artifact which may hold the priceless names of six infamous Russian spies. Going in undercover as part of Red and Pratt's team, even realizing that Pratt will likely betray them, Lizzie is caught while breaking into the safe inside the Syrian Embassy while Pratt executes her real plan and leaves with the effigy.

Nova #13.NOW

Sam Alexander vs. the Space Horse! For a title which screams about its newness (given the lame .NOW tag) Nova #13.NOW is actually a throwback issue to a longtime staple of comics history. Two heroes meet under some form of misunderstanding leading to the pair to duke it out for a few panels before discovering their error and agreeing to team-up to take on the real threat.

Following on the events of last issue and Nova accidentally helping the wrong side in a conflict, Beta Ray Bill comes to Earth for answers. As a longtime fan of Bill I'm happy to see him, and the fight between Nova and and Walt Simonson's creation of a Space Horse dressed up as Thor with his own Asgardian hammer is fun to read (especially playing on the idea of Bill using his Hammer to hold Nova in place).

By the end of the issue the heroes are finally on the same page and next month we'll see they can provide as much fun working together as fighting as the pair head off into space to find the ship of slave traders who tricked the young Nova into helping them. Worth a look.

[Marvel, $3.99]

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Journey Double Feature

Re-released together as a two-disc set on both DVD and Blu-ray, 2008's Journey to the Center of the Earth and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island star Josh Hutcherson as a young protagonist who discovers truth behind the writings of Jules Verne while looking for missing members of his family.

Of the two films, the first (co-starring Brendan Fraser and Anita Briem) featuring the group's discovery of a secret world in the center of the Earth holds up better than its sequel (co-starring Dwayne "It's Okay to Call Me The Rock Again" Johnson, Vanessa Hudgens, Luis Guzmán, and Michael Caine) and the discovery of a secret island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Family friendly, the effects of the two films and the magical settings of each might provide enjoyment for younger viewers and even interest them in Verne's original works (not a bad thing), but adults aren't likely to come back to either film too often.

[New Line Home Video, Blu-ray $19.98 / DVD $12.97]

Castle - Room 147

Beckett (Stana Katic) is surprised with the ease she gets a confession of the murder of an actor, by a confused sober alcoholic (Alexie Gilmore) with impossibly-detailed knowledge of the crime scene who was seen arguing publicly with victim days before his death, but when Esposito (Jon Huertas) confirms the woman couldn't have committed the crime things get interesting. Much to everyone's confusion, even Castle, the mystery will lead to one of the show's more complicated storylines.

Almost Human - Beholder

Filling in a bit about Chromes (genetically-enhanced humans which played a role in last week's episode), "Beholder" features a killer (Michael Eklund) targeting the select group who died under apparently natural circumstances, including the murder of a Chrome which Detective Stahl (Minka Kelly) brings to Kennex (Karl Urban) and Dorian's (Michael Ealy) attention. Stealing a bit of each victim's DNA using experimental nanobots (which were outlawed for killing donors during medical trials), their killer is slowly building a map of a new perfect face piece by stolen piece.

Amazing X-Men #4

The reunions continue as Nightcrawler talks some sense into an out-of-control Beast and gathers the rest of the team including saving Iceman and Firestar (who between the two of the literally froze and then burned down Hell), and rescues Northstar and Wolverine from the icy wastes (finally bringing Logan and Kurt together again).

Inter-cut with flashbacks of Nightcrawler with his various teammates, the latest issue continues to deliver with fan-friendly scenes while building to the story's climax. With the reunions finished and team reassembled, Amazing X-Men sets up next month's conclusion of its opening arc featuring the X-Men vs. a band of demon-mutant pirates with the fate of all creation at stake. Sounds fun, don't it?

Along with the various reunions writer Jason Aaron reveals the origin of the Bamfs and lays the groundwork for the possible cost of Nightcrawler's current heroism which may have serious repercussions for the still-dead hero and his teammates very soon. Worth a look.

[Marvel, $3.99]

House of Lies - Pushback

Marty (Don Cheadle) deals with trouble on multiple fronts as Lukas’ (T.I.), aware that Dre (Mekhi Phifer) is attempting to push him out, sets fire to the company he helped build by firing all the key positions, shutting down production, and blocking any attempts to resolve the situation leaving everyone involved with the day-to-day business (including Kaan and Associates) unpaid. Meanwhile, Marty also has to deal with Roscoe’s (Donis Leonard Jr.) new crush (Bex Taylor-Klaus) whose influence on his son (and their drunken night together) continues to rub him the wrong way.

Monday, February 24, 2014

True Detective - Haunted Houses

While continuing to interview Hart (Woody Harrelson), and bring in his wife (Michelle Monaghan) for a separate interview, Detectives Gilbough (Michael Potts) and Papania (Tory Kittles) turn their attention specifically to 2002 and the series of events that led to Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) leaving the force. In flashbacks we see Hart's temporary state as a sober and loyal husband is broken when he encounters one of the former child prostitutes (Lili Simmons) from the 1995 case and gets to know her much, much better.

Supergirl #28

Finding himself over-matched, crappy New 52 pseudo-Lobo first tries to beat Supergirl and when that fails he tries his best to reason with the extremely pissed-off young woman whose tired of being taken advantage of. The only thing that saves the supremely-awful redesigned character from the ignoble death he surely deserves is Kara's all-out rage that sets up the next several issues of the title and its tie-in with Red Lanterns.

Putting aside the shittiness that is this version of Lobo, a constant complaint I've had with Kara is her propensity to whine (which comes off even pathetic from someone with Superman's power set). Apparently that's not going to be an issue going forward.

Although I'm against throwing a ring on an already super-powered character like Supergirl, I have hopes the experience might give her a bit more perspective once she inevitably returns to normal (and gives her a little bit of Power Girl's spunk, which this version of Kara is sorely lacking). And, hey, maybe we'll get a cameo from Dex-Starr? Worth a look.

[DC, $2.99]

G.I. JOE: Special Missions #12

The search for Destro continues as Scarlett, Mainframe, and Helix track their escaped prisoner Copperback to a bizarre location in Russia known as Beaver Falls made to look like a small American town. Here they will discover the secret of Destro's new B.A.T. experiments as the group walks right into a demonstration Destro has planned for Cobra Commander and high-ranking Russian officers secretly providing the criminal organization with their base of operations.

By the end of the issue the pressure on Destro continues to build as the JOEs outperform his new weapons and even decide to turn his new prized soldier back on his master.

I'm hoping the inclusion of Helix to the Special Missions team continues after wrapping up the current "Destro Must Die" arc next month. Aside from finally forcing both Scarlett and Helix to deal with each other and the loss of Snake Eyes it would also add another kick-ass female character to a team that at times has lacked some star power. Worth a look.

[IDW, $3.99]

Daredevil #36

With the final issue before yet another relaunch, writer Mark Waid and Chris Samnee send Daredevil out in style with Matt Murdock's public admission in a court of law to his radar sense, his vigilante activities, and why he enjoys parading around in red tights. Daredevil #36 feels a little rushed as it deals with Murdock's big shocker while also tying up the loose ends of the Sons of the Serpent, Foggy's life-threatening illness, Matt's relationship with Kristen McDuffie, and setting up the new monthly title featuring Murdock and Nelson in San Fransisco.

Before its over Daredevil will get to kick a little ass and kiss the girl, but Nelson and Murdock will both be disbarred (setting up more obstacles to their possible return to New York sometime down the line). As to McDuffie, it's left unsaid whether or not she will be accompanying the partners out west or if this is (for now) the end of Matt and Kristen's story.

The final issue does its best to justify an unnecessary renumbering and reboot next month while providing a milestone in both of Murdock's chosen professions. Worth a look.

[Marvel, $2.99]

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Mighty Mugg Catman

I've loved Catman since reading his appearance in one of the first Batman comics I ever owned. This little bit of awesomeness was created by TOdesigns and has a special place on my bookshelf.

Red Hood and the Outlaws #28

With the League of Assassins, the All Caste, and Jason Todd's temporary amnesia all behind them the series offers the Outlaws a temporary reprieve of the most exclusive island resort in the world and a chance to bring back Isabel and tie-up the loose plotline of her relationship with the Red Hood.

Although the vacation starts well enough, despite Starfire's complaining about the hologram hiding her true form to the other guests and Isabel's obvious distance, things take a turn when the super-villain in charge of the island gets wind of the Outlaws appearance and, assuming the worst, decides to preemptively strike.

Far less convoluted than several issues of the series, the straightforward storytelling works well and provides plenty of action while introducing a new enemy in Midas and the Army of the Golden Hand. Stephen Segovia steps in to do an okay job with the art this month although his Starfire is a little off and some of the wideshots are less detailed than I'd like (a common complaint about much of the New 52). Worth a look.

[DC, $3.99]

Batman: The Animated Series Catwoman by Mary Colette

Uncanny X-Men #17

Dropped off in the middle of nowhere in a bizarre locale by Magik, the young X-Men (Tempus, Fabio, Celeste, Irma, Phoebe, Benjamin DeedsTriage, Hijack) are put to the test in a field training exercise to determine both their survival instincts and their ability to follow orders and work together to stay alive. Although the entire group makes it back home in one piece, the casual disregard for Cyclops' explicit orders means (for now) that one member of the team is no longer an X-Man.

I've got to say I'm not altogether happy with the set-up of this issue as Cyclops throws the unprepared recruits into a dangerous situation without the control of a Danger Room scenario. Although they each perform well in surviving the bizarre super-evolutionary town in Montana, they nearly get taken in by S.H.I.E.L.D. thanks to Hijack's cellphone leading the heroes right to them. And I'm not exactly buying the idea that this is the last we've seen of Hijack whose skills are far too valuable not to see him return after he's "learned his lesson" (if that's even why he was truly let go). Worth a look.

[Marvel, $3.99]

Red Alert MP-14

Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond - Episode 4

The final episode of the mini-series brings an end to the war, and Ian Fleming's (Dominic Cooper) time with Naval Intelligence, but not before Fleming makes it into the field for his only real action and begins inventing the final piece of the puzzle in the various gadgets used by the spy the world would come to know as James Bond.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Saturday with Sarah

Batman '66 #8

More of an homage to the wacky adventures Batman and Robin were having in the comics than on the television show in the mid-to-late 60s, the latest issue of Batman '66 pits the Dynamic Duo against professor of Egyptology turned deranged super-villain who actually believes himself to be King Tut.

Originally created for the show, Tut's inclusion in the comic is appreciated, but the adventure itself involving a time tunnel hidden inside a sarcophagus taking the villain and Batman and Robin into Egypt's past is pretty damn bizarre (as it the convoluted plot involving time travel for the sole purpose of trading chocolate for gold).

The back-up story is also a bit odd as it puts Batman and Robin in cowboy hats and sends them after the outlaw Shame in the modern Old West. Only partially successful like the main storyline, the adventure seizes on a villain from the show while offering an odd story which would have been more in line of the comics at the time than on television. Hit-and-Miss.

[DC, $3.99]

Teen Titans Go! #2

As in the style of the cartoon which spawned it, the latest issue of Teen Titans Go! includes two wacky adventures for our heroes. The first involves Robin bowing to peer pressure (and his crush to Starfire) and allowing the team to compete on a reality-TV talent competition which becomes more of an all-out brawl when they discover The Brotherhood of Evil are also contestants.

The second-half of the comic involves the consequences of Captain Cold successfully freezing Robin in ice. Eventually thawing their leader, the Titans decide to shrink Beast Boy to microscopic levels in an Innerspace style advneture to send him into Robin to kill the virus making him sick. Of course things go terrible wrong and Robin awakes "years later" with a broken arm as the team tries to play off their various mistakes with a prank.

Both adventures are fun. I like the choice of judges in the first story, and the inclusion of the classic version of Captain Cold (who is honestly surprised he was able to successfully freeze one of the heroes) is terrific. Worth a look.

[DC, $3.99]

The History of Rap (Part 5)

Last night Justin Timberlake made his first appearance on the new The Tonight Show to perform another installment of "The History of Rap" with host Jimmy Fallon.

She-Hulk #1

I've always liked She-Hulk and although her involvement in Future Foundation wasn't enough to keep me coming back to that series I'm pleased to see the lawyer/super-hero get her own well-deserved title (although I think Marvel misses a huge opportunity by not relocating her to the West Coast as the trouble she could get into with Daredevil, in and out of the courtroom, would be a real treat).

The first issue deals more with She-Hulk's role as a lawyer than super-hero as she quits here well-paying job at a prestigious law firm rather than trade on her super-hero connections and takes a case of a widowed single-mother who has a case against Tony Stark's company stealing her husband's work.

Although I think it goes too far, the automated levels Stark leaves between himself and any legal problems (even those brought to him by friends) is humorous as things get more complicated and further out of hand before She-Hulk goes into smash mode to get his attention. Overall a solid first issue (even if I'm not sold on the art of Javier Pulido that appears to be aping Mike Allred's art on FF). Worth a look.

[Marvel, $3.99]

Friday, February 21, 2014

Teen Titans Go! - Opposites

Set chronologically before last week's Valentine's Day episode, "Opposites" explains the mutual attraction between Cyborg (Khary Payton) and Jinx (Lauren Tom) who try their best (i.e. not all that well) to hide their feelings and burgeoning romantic relationship from both the Titans and the H.I.V.E.

3 Days to Kill

It would be easy to simply call 3 Days to Kill as a bad movie and move on, and I certainly wouldn't blame anyone one for doing so. The inconsistent thriller concerning the final mission of dying spy Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner) dealing with apartment full of an extended family of squatters, reconnecting with his estranged wife (Connie Nielsen) and daughter (Hailee Steinfeld), and working for a sexy spy (Amber Heard), immediately after promising his wife he was done with the the agency, to find and kill a target known only as The Wolf (Richard Sammel), is one hell of a B-movie mess.

Costner, who has had some notable voice issues earlier this year causing him to pull out of planned appearances, could give Christian Bale's gruff Batman voice a run for its money with his gravel monotone performance here. Despite making assurances he's given up the life, and without explaining to his wife and daughter how killing dozens of people where they live in Paris might come back to haunt them, Renner agrees to slowly kill his way to The Wolf and his top lieutenant The Albino (Tómas Lemarquis).

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Winter Soldier: The Bitter March #1

Set in 1966 at the height of the Cold War the new mini-series from writer Rick Remender and artist Roland Boschi gets off to a strong start with S.H.I.E.L.D.'s top two agents successfully extracting a pair of Nazi scientists from a HYDRA base. Personally I could have done with a little less of the monstrous Madam Worm, but Boschi's art fits style of the comic well and the interaction between Nick Fury and the cock Ran Shen offers several fun panels.

Despite escaping the castle without raising any real trouble from the terrorist organization with plans to use the scientists' discovery of the alchemy formula (allowing them to duplicate any element in any quantity) to destabilize the world's economy, Fury and Shen run into trouble with the appearance of a Russian agent who has his own plans for the Nazis.

Offering us a look at the more murderous version of Bucky under control of the Soviets, the issue sells me completely on the idea of Shen alone with an injured Fury on a mountain against a mythical enemy he fears he can't beat. Chris Eliopoulos also provides an awesome variant cover. Worth a look.

[Marvel, $3.99]

Li'l Sonja

When Dynamite started putting out all of these cute one-shots inspired by the company's current catalog, Li'l Sonja was the one that caught my eye. It took me a while to get to the issue, partially due to having to special order the terrific variant cover by Agnes Garbowska, and partly out of my own forgetfulness, but once I picked it up I was in heaven.

Written by Jim Zub, whose work in IDW's new Samurai Jack comic I have been enjoying, with art by Joel Carroll, Li'l Sonja is the type of comic I want to see Dynamite start putting out monthly. The story centers around the heroine's travels leading her to investigate disappearance of red objects and red-headed children caused by greedy red dragon.

Fighting off the dragon with her sword, wits, and a full page of wonderful puns, Sonja eventually outsmarts the dragon and saves the day. A hell of a lot of fun, my only disappointment comes from how long it took me to pick it up and the fact that there's no issue #2 to look forward to. Must-read.

[Dynamite Entertainment, $3.99]

Pretty Little Liars - Free Fall

Realizing the bombshell Spencer (Troian Bellisario) and the other Liars are about to drop on Aria (Lucy Hale), Ezra (Ian Harding) decides to defuse the situation by preemptively dropping one of his own by alerting his girlfriend, Emily (Shay Mitchell), and Hanna (Ashley Benson) to their friend's pill problem and increasingly erratic behavior. Although Aria dismisses what she takes for her friend's drugged-out rantings, Ezra's slip of the tongue (and his pressure to further expose her drug use) makes Aria begin to second-guess her unflinching support of the man she loves.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Intelligence - Size Matters

After five of the world's leading scientists around the world all turn up dead, Cyber Command uncovers a plot targeting several more scientists including Dr. Shenendoah Cassidy (John Billingsley) and a former star pupil Bryce Tyler (Tommy Dewey), by someone capable of creating advanced killer nanites. After his rescue it doesn't take Bryce long to recognize Gabriel's (Josh Holloway) unique skills and quickly deduce what his old teacher has achieved.

Smallville Season Eleven: Alien #3

The third issue of Smallville Season Eleven: Alien features unexpected team-ups. As Chloe spends time in the Batcave trying to pitch Batman on the idea of joining the Justice League, Lois and Nightwing hit the streets and get into a little action while taking down a local gang, and in Russia Clark Kent and Lex Luthor work together to discover more about the identity of the Monitor and his true purpose in this reality.

I enjoyed the scenes of Barbara and Lois together and getting the chance to see Lois kick some butt. However, I question Bryan Q. Miller's choice to make Lois so capable that she comes off as pretty much equal to Batman's trained partner in a fight.

Clark and Lex finally catch up with the Monitor (for all the good it does them) leaving that thread on a cliffhanger suggesting Lex Luthor might re-discover Superman's secret (but I wouldn't bet on it just yet). The Batman story also gets an unusual ending with the reveal of a Bat-Joker from another world who will no doubt cause trouble for Smallville's version of the Dynamic Duo in the next issue. Worth a look.

[DC, $3.99]

Transcendence trailer

Johnny Depp stars as one of the leaders in Artificial Intelligence whose mind is uploaded into a computer by his wife (Rebecca Hall) and best friend (Paul Bettany) following an attack by an anti-technology extremist group. Kate Mara, Morgan Freeman, and Cillian Murphy also star. Transcendence opens in theaters on April 18th.

Almost Human - Disrupt

When the security system of computer-controlled smart home malfunctions killing a high ranking executive of the security company and his wife, Kennex (Karl Urban) and Dorian (Michael Ealy) are called in to investigate and discover whether or not the malfunction was caused in retaliation to a similar accident involving the death of a teenager exactly one year ago. Over the course of the case Kennex continues to find amusement in a running gag of spreading various vicious rumors about the reasons for Detective Paul's (Michael Irby) temporary leave.

Guardians of the Galaxy trailer

We now have our first trailer for Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy featuring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, and the voices of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel as the odd collection of space-fairing misfits and killers turned heroes known as The Guardians of the Galaxy. Lee Pace, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, Michael Rooker, and John C. Reilly and also star. Guardians of the Galaxy opens in theaters on August 1st.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Castle - Smells Like Teen Spirit

The bizarre murder of the leader (Natasha Hall) of a mean girl clique at one of many private schools Castle (Nathan Fillion) was expelled from points to the unlikely suspect of an telekinesis-obsessed outcast (Hannah Marks) who believes she may have accidentally killed the bully with the power of her mind. Along with a trip to the school, which includes Castle reconnecting with the same principal (Sam Anderson) who expelled him for a stunt involving a cow years ago, Castle and Beckett's (Stana Katic) investigation lead them to question the victim's best friends (Victory Van Tuyl, Malese Jow) who witnessed the killing through video from one of their cell phones.

Fatale #20

Picking up the thread of the ongoing B-story of Nicholas Lash's rescue and torture by Lance, Fatale begins its final arc as Josephine comes after Lash and the demented former rocker who became obsessed with her years ago during her amnesia period.

With Fatale #20 the waiting, along with Josephine's hiding, is over. Quickly dispatching disciples of the cult still hunting for her, Josephine draws on her gifts to find Lash aware it opens herself up for detection. Although Lash is grateful for her intervention, he can't help but notice how easily Josephine deals with a former lover (much like his uncle) who is no longer of any use to her.

Although I'm happy to hear of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' new deal with Image allowing them freedom to tell a variety of stories in the coming months, I'm sad to see Fatale coming to an end. The glimpses we get of Josephine's suicide attempts remind us of quite bit of backstory yet to be developed, so I'm hoping the pair might return to the characters sometime down the line. Worth a look.

[Image, $3.50]

House of Lies - Middlegame

Marty's (Don Cheadle) bullshit Trojan Horse party doesn't quite go as planned for anyone as a sober Clyde (Ben Schwartz) struggles with both his intense dislike for Will (Ryan Gaul) and trying fit in at a pretentious gala where alcohol is a necessity for enjoyment, Dre (Mekhi Phifer) performs a loyalty test on Marty that isn't appreciated, accidentally murders Lukas' (T.I.) new dog, and Jeannie (Kristen Bell) resents being sent in to feel out Lukas when Marty begins to consider jumping sides to go with the other brother who thanks to a drunken Caitlin (Genevieve Angelson) has already started putting the pieces together.

Monday, February 17, 2014

True Detective - The Secret Fate of All Life

Meeting Reggie Ledoux's (Charles Halford) meth cooking partner leads Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Hart (Woody Harrelson) to the man have been hunting for months. As the pair relate the collar which would make both of their careers to Gilbough (Michael Potts) and Papania (Tory Kittles) we notice, not for the first time, that the series of events described in the interviews immediately following the events and 17 years later don't match up with the events from the flashbacks. However, for the first time in the series we see just how far both men are willing to lie to obscure what really happened and cover their asses.

All-New X-Men #23

Continuing the story from Guardians of the Galaxy #11.NOW, the time-displaced original X-Men along with Kitty Pryde, X-23, and the Guardians of the Galaxy head into space after Jean Grey who has been taken by the Shi'ar to be publicly tried for crimes she hasn't committed yet. The odd circumstances the X-Men find themselves in leads to quite a bit of offbeat humor highlighted by Iceman's glee over interacting with a talking raccoon.

Of course, as often happens with the Guardians' plans, things don't go as smoothly as possible when they ship comes under attack from a Shi'ar warship. Unexpectedly, the heroes are saved by the arrival of the Starjammers led by Cosair whose relationship with this version of Cyclops is less cordial than his present day counterpart.

Filled with action, suspense, and an awful lot of humor and inside references (such as Kitty Pryde's mention of her uncomfortable past with space travel), the pairing of the two teams is a lot of fun while the pre-trial moments between Jean Grey and a Shi'ar telepath continue to set the stage for the trial yet to come. Worth a look.

[Marvel, $3.99]

Ender's Game

A longtime fan of Orson Scott Card's book, I was pleased enough with the recent adaptation of Ender's Game to the big screen to find a spot for it on my Top 13 Movies of 2013. The movie holds up well on Blu-ray as we follow young Ender Wiggin's (Asa Butterfield) story as child prodigy sent to Battle School to transform him into to humanity's best hope in their war against the ant-like race known as Formics.

Adapted and directed by Gavin Hood, the script streamlines Ender's journey while ignoring large subplots from the book including that of Ender's siblings (Abigail BreslinJimmy ‘Jax’ Pinchak) on Earth after his departure. What the film does deliver on is the complicated character study of a child genius striving to understand the aggression both in himself and the enemy he will be ordered to destroy, all set inside a collection of amazing effects and production design. For more on the film check out my original review.

Astro City #9

As the conspiracy behind framing Winged Victory as a super-villain continues, the heroine is forced to abandon her schools. Continuing to investigate the elaborate frame, the Samaritan and The Confessor urge the heroine to go into hiding until they can uncover the proof to clear her name.

Winged Victory's only respite comes from answering the call of the voice which has slowly grown in strength over recent days. On an inaupsicious rooftop garden she will come face-to-face with one the Council of Nike (those whose power flows through her veins) who offers the hero the story of her only life, a brief moment of rest, and the support to continue to fight for her cause.

Although the overall story isn't advanced much (the investigation hits dead ends and the evidence against Winged Victory mounts), in terms of exploring the effect of the attack on the hero Astro City #9 works well. And before it's over we get the tease of how the young man who came to her door just before her world started crashing down might have a big role to play in the arc's final issue next month. Worth a look.

[Vertigo, $3.99]

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Star Wars #14

The second-half of Ensign Nanda's five days with Darth Vader on a secret mission of revenge concludes with Vader collecting Tag Rogaren from the asteroid fields of Alderaan and swiftly dealing with the elite Stormtroopers who decide they'd rather turn in the man for a bounty than see him returned to the Empire.

The final piece of the puzzle locks into place when Vader and Nanda head to Bircher's homeworld and discover the traitor's connection to Mon Mothma whose family home the Dark Lord of the Sith obliterates from low orbit with Nanda as the only silent witness to his actions.

I'm sorry to see what has been the best arc of the series so far come to and end. Although Nanda survives her two days with the most dangerous man in the known universe, and even gets what was promised to her, we see how the emotional scars left from the five days will last a lifetime. Best of the Week.

[Dark Horse, $2.99]

Sherlock - The Complete Third Season

Sherlock Holmes' (Benedict Cumberbatch) return from the dead, the marriage of John Watson (Martin Freeman) to Mary (Amanda Abbington), and a new evil enemy in Charles Augustus Magnussen (Lars Mikkelsen) at the three major storylines to dominate the show's Third Season. The season's first episode deals primarily with Holmes attempting to repair his relationship with Watson as he returns to London to stop a terrorist attack. It's the season's middle episode, however which is the real standout not only for the humor that is offered by Watson's wedding (and bachelor party), but also because its the only episode that centers on a real mystery.

Sadly the season ends on a down note with the weakest episode of the series to date involving a twist for Mary and a new adversary who actually is proven smarter than Holmes. Ending on a cliffhanger by teasing the possibility of a return of Moriarty (Andrew Scott) from the dead for as well, the Third Season is a bit of a mixed bag containing only a couple of short featurettes on Sherlock's return and the villains of the series.

[BBC Home Entertainment, DVD $29.98 / Blu-ray $39.98]