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Posts tagged “Kickass

Top 10 of 2010 – Films

2010 is officially over. Now it’s time to be overly critical of the entire year and reflect upon it and judge it on the whole by the content it produced artistically. If it were up to me, the following ten films would be the nominees for best picture. But then again, I have no sway with the academy. If anything, these films will be disqualified based on my recommendation…

THE TOP TEN FILMS OF 2010


10. The A-Team (Our Review)

I think that the only other person in the world who will have this on their top ten list would be former Marvel editor Nathan Cosby who loves this film only a little less than his pet bulldog Daffy. (Seriously, check out his twitter feed. It’s amazing.) The fact of the matter is that the chemistry between the leads here is absolutely amazing. Never in my life would I have thought Rampage Jackson could be as funny as he was here. Liam Neeson gives his full effort here and never lets the fact that this is a remake of a campy eighties tv show get in the way of doing a great job playing the leader of the group. Also, Jessica Biel’s legs. So there.

 

 

 

I have this framed in my room....9. Kick-Ass (Our Review)

You know, I’ve said that I don’t care for the original series which they based this one on and that really hasn’t changed. I think the second volume has benefited from the movie by taking what was improved upon and working it onto the page. But where the comic book series by Mark Millar was hobbled by it’s own hype and uncertain tone the film thrived by finding what it wanted to do and rolling with it. It is hard to think of a film that was more fun this year than Kick-ass. That alone earns it a spot on the list. Any film that can overcome the handicaps of it’s source material and come out the better product at the end of it deserves a little bit of praise.

 

 

8.  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One

While this one has some problems with pacing, but aside from that it’s a testament to how the material has grown since it’s beginnings. The biggest test that the series has had to face was the aging of its stars and keeping the tone of the films consistent with the audience’s development. A generation literally grew up alongside these characters. A new generation is jumping on as well, and they have to be able to latch on as well. The balancing act between keeping the films friendly to the childlike wonder of the earlier entries as well as pleasing the matured sensibilities of the established audience earns this one a place on the list.

 

 

7. Toy Story 3 (Our Review)

This one was a long time coming. The franchise that put Pixar on the map came back to prove that Disney can produce a sequel that isn’t complete and utter tripe. All films are made to make money, let’s be honest, but this one never felt like a cash grab. The narrative is developed, the characters feel in tune with what they should be, and the care that went into making the film is on display in every frame. While other animated fare, like Shrek for example, seem to stop about halfway through development and focus more on cheap gags and silly humor, Toy Story 3 tried and succeeded at being a top notch film first and foremost. That sort of thing earns you loads of credit in the end. The emotional heft of the film is quite impressive and is a testament to what Pixar can achieve.

 

6. Inception (Our Review)

I’m sure a lot of people expected this one to rank higher, but having recently revisited the film on home video I have to say that while it is still quite an amazing film, it’s not the best film to come out this year. I think that Christopher Nolan will come out better because of this film however, because he’s built himself up as a big name in Hollywood because he doesn’t seem to make films that fit the established mold and therefore will be able to make more films like Memento and the like whenever he finishes up his time on the Batman franchise. If anything, the biggest accomplishment of this film is getting the mainstream to engage in layered discussion about a film. Also, good to see that modern audiences can handle cerebral sci-fi.

 

 

5. Black Swan (Our Review)

It’s hard to argue against this one. It’s ham-fisted arthouse with a great deal of marketing hype centered around a thirty second blip in the narrative to draw in the mainstream. I honestly don’t think a lesser director could have pulled this off. It’s not Aronofsky’s best film, as I think the Wrestler is better constructed and that one had Marisa Tomei as a stripper, but Black Swan has the distinction of being his most ambitious and dangerous film since The Fountain, which seemed to crumble a bit under its own weight, a problem that Black Swan didn’t have a problem with.

 

 

4. Scott Pilgrim (Our Review)

I know I’ve run this into the ground. It’s an amazing film and one of the most distinctively off kilter than anything else that hit the cinemas this year. Edgar Wright outdid himself and the fact that so many people were alienated by the style only proves that maybe the movie was released ahead of it’s time. The only problem being that the film captures a time period very much cemented to this era, and so everything about the film works against it while making it unique. Time will do great things for this film, as it creates a bubble of nostalgia that works in ways other films only wish they could attain.

 

 

Hail Mary...3.The Town (Our Review)

Ben Affleck you magnificent bastard. The fact that he has so redeemed himself these last few years is nice. Gone Baby Gone was excellent but The Town was just amazing. The fact that he managed to remind us that he could indeed act while proving that he is one of the better working directors of the moment is a feat that cannot be understated. Also, let’s not underestimate the novelty that at least in my eyes, this was about Daredevil and Hawkeye straight up robbin’ folk.

 

 

 

Profile Picture Updated2. The Social Network (Our Review)

This film is a perfect storm of acting/writing/directing. This is a film that had to overcome a serious handicap in the fact that everyone in the civilized world laughed at the very concept. However, when word spread that the film was actually quite good, people felt the need to see it as if to prove to themselves that the concept was too silly to be a good film. The joke was on them as I’ve met very few people who can say with a straight face that it wasn’t one of the best films of the year. Jesse Eisenberg managed to make Mark Zuckerberg, a certifiable cunt if there ever was one, a somewhat sympathetic character and future Spider-Man Andrew Garfield turns out an impressive performance as the partner Zuckerberg pushed to the side. The film captures the attitude of a generation so succinctly that it deserves any and all praise I can heap on it.

1. True Grit

It’s been forever since we got a straight forward western on the big screen. I think the last was probably 3:10 to Yuma a few years back. The last people you would expect to play the western straight on film would be the Coens, but they manage to pull off one of their most mainstream efforts while simultaneously reinvigorating a seemingly dormant genre by playing to its strengths. They manage to give us a film that reminds the audience why westerns were so popular once upon a time. The characters play to a part of the human condition and the stories do too. This isn’t a very complex story. It is an open and simple theme held high by complex characters. Every actor in the film gives their all to create memorable and unique characters that set the film apart from the 1969 version in nearly every way.

 

 

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I have to admit that I didn’t get to see as many films as I would have liked this year. I still haven’t seen some supposedly great films like Winter’s Bone but of the films I’ve seen this year, this is the best I could put together. That having been said, if I decided to put together a list of the worst shit I saw this year it’d likely be a top twenty.

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Weekly Comic Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

This week I had more than a few papers due in more than a few classes so the reviews weren’t the first thing on my mind. I’m trying to better myself through education and whatnot. Anyhow, I did read quite a few books and some of them surprised me so I figured it’d be a waste not to get something posted.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #645 2.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN PRESENTS BLACK CAT #4 (OF 4) 3.99
BATMAN RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE #5 (OF 6) 3.99
BOOSTER GOLD #37 2.99
DAKEN DARK WOLVERINE #2 2.99
GREEN LANTERN #58 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 2.99
HACK SLASH ANNUAL 2010 MURDER MESSIAH #1 CVR A (MR) 5.99
INCREDIBLE HULKS #614 3.99
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #31 2.99
JONAH HEX #60 2.99
KNIGHT & SQUIRE #1 (OF 6) 2.99
NEW AVENGERS #5 3.99
SECRET SIX #26 2.99
SHADOWLAND #4 (OF 5) SL 3.99
SHADOWLAND BLOOD ON STREETS #3 (OF 4) SL 3.99
SICKNESS IN THE FAMILY HC (MR) 19.99
SUPERIOR #1 (OF 6) (MR) 2.99
SUPERMAN #703 2.99
THOR #616 3.99
THOR MIGHTY AVENGER #5 2.99
TUROK # 1 3.50
X-MEN #4 3.99

Now let’s do this thing.

Is That A Goth Cinderella?HACK/SLASH ANNUAL 2010

Tim Seeley has me hooked on Hack/Slash. It’s a great book that is easily accessible if you’re willing to deal with the content and manages the kind of self-referential tone that a lot of books try to reach but can’t because they don’t know how to handle it. With this Annual, we get the bridge between the old Devil’s Due series and the new relaunch coming around at Image. It’s got a definite middle ground feeling to it, where I’m sure new readers could catch what was going on while long-time fans like myself are happy to see plot threads start to re-align after a four month mini-series that felt a little too much like wheel-spinning.

I seriously cannot wait for the upcoming relaunch. I hope that people will take a chance on the book and hop on when the new #1 issue comes out because Hack/Slash is one of those books that understands that comic books can be fun. It’s not a full on comedy book, and it’s not always serious. Which makes me happy because a lot of books nowadays cannot balance tone at all. It’s an art and Seeley should give lectures.

Also, whoever had the idea to have Six Sixx wear a Fastway shirt in the opening part of the book is my hero, because I freaking unabashedly love that band.

EXPLOSION!!!!INVINCIBLE IRON MAN # 31

Matt Fraction is writing the definitive run of Iron Man for the modern age. The world he is creating for Tony Stark here is one that builds not only off of Marvel’s rich history but off of the technological and political history of our own world. Fraction is saying something about technology and society that others have tried to in the book before but never found the right tone to make the story click. Here we’re getting an Iron Man that works on multiple levels. Stark’s unending quest for personal worth through altruism and progressive thought that has become the defining characteristic that pushes the narrative forward and it feels genuine. Tony Stark has truly become a multi-layered character in the last decade and Fraction is doing a good job of building Tony as a character while at the same time giving us the kind of story that we expect to read in an Iron Man comic.

 

 

'Ello Chaps!KNIGHT AND SQUIRE # 1

I’m just not British enough to like this book. I love me some Doctor Who and I thought Blackadder was hilarious, but even still, Cornell’s first issue of this mini-series went over my head like nobody’s business. I think that it could possibly be a great series for those who understand what happened. But that’s not me. I’m admitting this up front so that you know I can’t accurately criticise the book. It’s just the truth. I’m sorry.

The art was pretty though. So there’s always that. *sheepish grin*

 

 

 

 

Space MonkeysSUPERIOR # 1

I’ve been a massive detractor when it comes to Mark Millar. I really haven’t enjoyed anything he’s written since Ultimates 2 or thereabouts. He’s obviously capable of writing some amazing stuff, as I loved Red Son and his work on The Authority but his recent output hasn’t been in any way intriguing to me. Kickass was a solid concept made better when translated to film, Old Man Logan was inconsequential and Nemesis just doesn’t work for me.

With Superior, Millar finds his once impeccable knack for dialog and pathos that was so prevalent in his Red Son days. The story works with established superhero tropes but doesn’t seek to subvert them the way that Kickass or Nemesis do. Instead he shows that an interesting story can be told out of tried and true ideas and still feel fresh if you have a story worth telling. I didn’t think Millar had it in him to create sympathetic characters, or characters that didn’t feel paper thin for that matter. His recent work certainly wouldn’t indicate that as being the case. However he downright surprised me here.

I think this could be the strongest work he’s turned in for quite some time, though I doubt it will be his most popular because so far it’s a solid book but lacks the hyped up sensationalism that makes Millar’s books fanboy-bait. I hope people will look past the fact that there’s no forced incest or pre-pubescent female murderers and pick the book up knowing that it’s a glowing testament to the superhero genre.

Nothing Witty, The Book SucksSUPERMAN # 703

It’s hard for me to say this, as a Superman fan, but the current run of the title is just about the worst Superman stuff I’ve ever read. No middle ground to this anymore, it’s just steadily headed toward absolute horrendousness since the second JMS took over the title. And like 90% of bad Superman stories it comes from the writer just not getting what makes Superman work. Superman is not a thug who holds a stalker hundreds of feet in the air and threatens to drop him if the man doesn’t change his ways. That’s kind of what Batman does, but not Superman. Superman would talk to the guy and the mere experience of meeting Superman would cause him to re-evaluate his life and that person would go on to do great things.

Superman also doesn’t lecture Batman about saving ordinary folk. I’m sorry. I know Superman is on some sort of self-reflection kick, but he cannot reshape his entire worldview in three issues to the point where he can lecture Dick Grayson about staying grounded to reality.

I get that some people don’t like the fact that Superman isn’t edgy. But JMS doesn’t need to try to “fix” all of Superman’s percieved problems. He needs to take what works with the character and go from there, not write a character that barely resembles him in any way shape or form. For the love of God, let this little expirement wrap up soon so we can get back to the title just being mediocre instead of nearly unreadable garbage.

Wampum!TUROK # 1

My only experience with Turok comes from wasting several hours playing the N64 game back in the late nineties. That’s about it. I never read any of the classic comics or anything of that nature. I picked up the new series wondering what it was like and it felt fairly generic and tepid, so far as I could tell. It feels about the same as the other relaunched-through-Dark Horse properties like Magnus or Doctor Solar. There’s obviously some effort put into making a modern feel to a classic character but the story progression feels choppy and though I’ve never read Turok before in my life, a lot of this felt like a rehash of something I’d read before.

The series has potential to grow, obviously, as the character wouldn’t have warranted a relaunch if there wasn’t something worth exploring with the property. I just hope that the flow of the book gets a little smoother because it certainly felt rough around the edges throughout the course of the first issue.

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The End. I’m gonna go have a sandwich and watch all the crap I’ve DVR’d this week but haven’t had a chance to watch.


Millar’s Nemesis Coming To The Screen

No, KickAss Made KickAss Look Like Shit...
So, not too long ago the news broke that Tony Scott, brother of Ridley Scott and maker of multiple films featuring Denzel Washington would be directing a feature film adaptation of Mark Millar’s latest magnum opus, Nemesis. I think most of you know how I feel about that book. It just doesn’t appeal to me. Frankly, I think it’s the laziest sort of comic writing. The more I think about it, the less redeeming value I see in it outside of Steve McNiven’s excellent artwork. Let’s not kid ourselves, that guy can draw and he can make the set pieces and action sequences that Millar concocts look breathtaking. But the book itself is pretty much a shallow husk. All of it seems like the sort of thing a kid playing in the sandbox would come up with, if that kid were Sid from Toy Story and he had been watching the Nightly News cover domestic terrorism four weeks in a row.

Now, as much as I dislike the book, and I do, I also hated KickAss in it’s initial print incarnation. I mean, it was trite and not very well written and Millar seemed to want to do eight different types of book at once and never really found his footing, which is why the overall tone of the book seems so shaky. But then, when that film was adapted to film by Matthew Vaughn I enjoyed the everloving hell out of it. The book remains a shaky modest attempt hindered by Millar’s ego and inability to sell his own product properly. The film seems to have a singular purpose and tone that helps keep the narrative moving and manages to fix a lot of the flaws in the book with the personalites of the people portraying their character. Case in point, Big Daddy. Nicholas Cage turned that character into something memorable while as a comic character he’s utterly forgettable. And let’s not even get started on HitGirl.

So can Tont Scott do the same thing? I would like to think so. I haven’t really enjoyed many of his last few films however. Pelham 123 did nothing for me, Domino was near unwatchable, and I could go on and on. But at the same time, Scott at least has a bit of depth and understands the internal motivations of any given character. He may be able to make these childish one-note characters come alive in a way that connects with me.

I’ll tell you all one thing, I will thank God every day for the rest of my life that this film didn’t end up in the hands of Michael Bay…


Arc Review : KICKASS

KICKASS

The final issue of Kickass hit stands last week after a very long delay. I had let the last few issues pile up unread, not sure when the arc would ever conclude. I figured it would happen before the film hit theaters, but the specifics were pretty much unknown and so I put the book to the back of my mind and waited patiently for the climax to hit stands. So with the book finally complete, I decided it was time to read it from cover to cover, starting all the way at issue one.

I would like to begin this review by giving a little bit of my take on Mark Millar as a writer. I think that Mark Millar is a competant writer. He’s not a revolutionary, a visionary, or a sign of what comics should or will be. I have enjoyed his comics about as often as I have slapped myself in the face wondering what the hell he was thinking putting such schlock on the page. I think Civil War was a great idea tarnished by shoddy execution but The Ultimates is one of the best comic works of the last decade. Now, regardless of my opinions of the man as a writer, Mark Millar is most assuredly one of the best hype-men in the business. Even if half of what he says never comes to fruition (he once proclaimed that Kickass would be a modern day Watchmen), he can sell a project like no other in the game.

I think that Millar’s hyping of this particular project led to my eventual decision to forego reading it on a monthly basis and wait until it’s conclusion to read it in it’s entirety. He repeatedly described the story to be one thing and then delivered something that was basically 180 degrees off what was promised.

So, reading the book in it’s entirety, and putting aside what the writer intended the book to be and looking at it for what it is, the book seems oddly reminescent of one of Millar’s earlier works, that of WANTED. It has that same juvenile “fuck authority” attitude as well as an irreverant poke-in-the-eye outlook toward the comic industry itself. In Kickass, Millar makes little jokes at the expense of the books on the stands and the culture surrounding them, (fairly accurately, I might add. The message-board nerd fights are pretty much spot on) whereas he actively played with superhero/supervillain tropes in Wanted.

I am not going to say that Kickass isn’t a decent book, because it works on some level as pure fun and is content to stand tall in it’s own self-concious absurdity. It’s like if Kill Bill were written by Dane Cook. It certainly appeals to a certain audience on more than a few levels, but the book is flawed in one major way. Because it is so derivitive of other comic schemes and tropes, while it makes a tongue in cheek statement about such comics, it does nothing to elevate it above what it attempts to satirize.

And in the end, that is what the book is. A sort of “well, almost” approach to satirizing the over-the top, post-Frank Miller world of comics. The fact that the book LOOKS absolutely amazing, and has Romita Jr. drawing the sort of crap you’d normally never get the chance to see him draw, gives the book another notch in the postive column, but if the story had the panache of a more skilled writer, I wouldn’t be so down on it as a whole.

All that having been said, everything that works against this book will work FOR it as a movie. Trust me on this one.


Weekly Comic Book Reviews

I Do Not Actually Look Like Jesse Custer

Dear loving God, I think I may have gone overboard on the books this week. I bought about double my usual pull and mostly because there were issues I figured would be good picks for review on this here blog.You should all feel so special.

The Pull List:
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #619 GNTLT 2.99
ARCHIE #605
AVENGERS INITIATIVE #32 SIEGE 2.99
BATMAN AND ROBIN #7 2.99
BLACKEST NIGHT JSA #2 (OF 3) 2.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA REBORN #6 (OF 6) 3.99
CHEW #8 (MR) 2.99
DAREDEVIL #504 2.99
DETECTIVE COMICS #861 3.99
FALL OF HULKS RED HULK #1 (OF 4) FOH 3.99
FANTASTIC FOUR #575 2.99
GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #8 2.99
GREEN LANTERN #50 (BLACKEST NIGHT) 3.99
HOUSE OF MYSTERY TP VOL 03 THE SPACE BETWEEN 14.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #41 3.99
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #35 2.99
KICK ASS #8 (MR) 2.99
MS MARVEL #49 2.99
NEW AVENGERS #61 SIEGE 3.99
PUNISHER #13 2.99
ROBOCOP #1 (MR) 3.5
SUPERGIRL #49 2.99
SUPERMAN #696 2.99
SUPERMAN SECRET ORIGIN #4 (OF 6) 3.99
THOR #606 2.99
ULTIMATE COMICS ENEMY #1 (OF 4) 3.99
WIZARD MAGAZINE #222 MARVEL SIEGE CVR (C: 0-1-2) 5.99
WONDER WOMAN #40 2.99
X-FACTOR #201 2.99
X-FORCE #23 XN 2.99
X-MEN LEGACY #232 XN 2.99

And here come the reviews:

AVENGERS INITIATIVE # 32

Taskmaster is an underated character. He’s really been getting his due in this book and this issue is no different. Initiative shows the POV of the ground level people going into the Siege on Asgard, particularly Taskmaster and Diamondback. We really get to see a clear defintion of why it is Taskmaster does what he does, something that I found refreshing in that it really fleshed his character out further than we’ve seen previously and hopefully it will generate some more interest in the character so that he sticks around after Initiative goes the way of the dodo in April.

BATMAN & ROBIN # 7
Long delayed and anticipated in ways I cannot possibly describe, the seventh issue of Grant Morrison’s flagship title for the Batman reborn storyline picks back up with a bang, not losing any of the kinetic energy that has made the book such a great read from it’s inception. The story begins in London with Batman racing against time through the streets trying to stop a runaway train brimming with explosives. The pacing of Batman’s movements through the city showcase all that artist Cameron Stewart is capable of and at the same time reminds us that Dick Grayson as Batman retains so much of the acrobatic skill that made him so formidible as Nightwing.

The book then escalates, delving into conspiracies regarding an old mine that may or may not have certain regenerative qualities. Sure enough, Batman and Robin show up and find a viable Lazarus Pit. With the themes already touched upon in the last few issues regarding Bruce’s death, one can easily see where this leads; but everything Grant Morrison does is always slightly off kilter, and I would wager that the final page of this issue is going to lead to something that defies expectation.

It should be noted that the issue has a really big lettering error, one which is devestatingly confusing. I know at least one person who assumed this was some sort of weird Morrisonian style choice, but it’s nothing so sinister. Just swap the speech bubbles and it makes perfect sense, and all will be well.E

DETECTIVE COMICS # 861

Following J.H. Williams on the art duty for Detective is pretty much like expecting a garage band to play the encore for Led Zeppelin. Artist JOCK does a great job on the title, bringing his signature look to the book an creating his own template for the action. Rucka does well balancing the dual stories, showcasing Batman and Batwoman’s investigation of the same case.

While I certainly miss the unparalleled art by Williams, this arc looks to be Rucka at the top of his game, and if that’s the case, it really doesn’t matter who is pulling the art chores.

RED HULK # 1

A book where the Red Hulk and Abomination team up to learn how M.O.D.O.K. repeatedly clones himself and harvests his own organs for future use. I’m a sucker for anything remotely involving M.O.D.O.K., so the fact that this book technically doesn’t need to exist in any way shape or form can be overlooked.

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA # 41

I haven’t been reading Robinson’s JLA. I read the first issue of Cry for Justice and decided that no good could come from reading anything Justice League related from that particular author. Picking up this issue, I can honestly say that I was probably right. The narrative seems jumbled and the characterization stilted. I know from his run on STARMAN that Robinson can handle a diverse cast. The only explaination I can think of for his inability to craft a coherant JLA is that in STARMAN, he built his world from the ground up. Robinson seems to have issues playing in other people’s sandbox with JLA and it is visible on every page.

Which is disappointing because Mark Bagley is turning out some really nice work here, drawing a wide spectrum of characters with all his usual skill. The fact that one of the most competent artists on the DC roster is stuck drawing such a lackluster book is perhaps the biggest shame of all.

ROBOCOP # 1

I’m not sure where this fits into the movie continuity. It seems like it either takes place before the third film or ignores it entirely. I don’t so much care about the continuity, that stuff doesn’t really matter with a book like this. What bothers me most about this book is just how damned sloppy it is. It reads like tiresome fan-fiction, which is forgiveable considering that that essentially what it needs to be. What really drags the book down is the ham-fisted way they try to shoehorn blatant social commentary about our current financial dilemma into the narrative. And while the original film did a good job mixing action and subtext, this book doesn’t seem to know how to do it without coming off as forced and trite.

ULTIMATE COMICS ENEMY # 1

I have no f**king idea what happened in this issue. Ben Grimm hit on the Invisible Woman and then started shedding like a mangy dog, a building exploded with a purple blob thing, and Nick Fury has lunch. I’m pretty much willing to accept a lot but paying $3.99 for this makes me slightly angry.

WONDER WOMAN # 40

Gail Simone knows how to write Wonder Woman. This issue features creepy Childen of the Corn kids spreading hate-speech, racism, and fear and eventually Power Girl shows up. I love Power Girl, so this book is immediately awesome, but the character moments in the book are so strong that it didn’t even need her to win me over. Gail has organically been building this series in such a manner that in a few years it will likely be held up alongside Perez as the pinnacle in what can be achieved with the character.

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And that’s it for this week. You’ll notice I actually reviewed more than one DC book this week. Aren’t I a generous soul?