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There’s a substantial amount of TV news to cover this week lead by the new trailer for the series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. FOX also has a new scifi show from JJ Abrams and there’s a Sleepy Hollow thing happening and a Dracula series too. We check out the shows and trailers and break them down for you. We hit on the new issue of Ultimate Comics Spider-man, talk about Gatsby and we have an early review of Fast and Furious 6!!
Our man on the street freelancer Zack Martin hit the Middle Tennessee Anime Convention back in April and he came back with over 60 of the coolest cosplay pictures you’re likely to find anywhere. This is an anime convention so most of what you see will be of that genre but next door there was a horror based merchandise show happening so you might get a little boo! mixed with your Gundam Wing! Scroll on down and check out Zack shots taken exclusively for us!
Directed by: Justin Lin
Starring: Vin Diesel, The Rock, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Gina Carano
The Fast and the Furious is easily one of the shallowest film franchises ever created in action, story, gratuitous car porn, and skin. It’s a franchise that never should have really existed beyond the first film but definitely not beyond the abysmal Tokyo Drift. The fact is the franchise did continue and in fact the fifth film in the franchise became the most successful in box office and in story. That film introduced The Rock into the franchise which was probably the most brilliant move the filmmakers could have made. The action was amped up as was the drama. Fast Five was dumb fun and sometimes that’s ok. With the success of that film there was no question there would be another one, so here we have Furious 6 as the opening title reads. How many more times can they play with that title?
The first thing that must be noted about this film is just how strongly it sticks to the canon set up within the franchise. It’s funny that characters and story that are built on such a shaky foundation have actually found merit and have even become critically important. Justin Lin completes some character story arcs in this film and sets up more for an inevitable next film. Lin even bravely drops a mid-credits stinger at the end of the film making the entire thing a cliffhanger. I have to admit that the stinger and the new character it introduces have me ridiculously excited to see Fast 7. Wait, did I just type that?
IN Furious 6 the entire team has retired and the opening of the film sets the characters up in their new lives with some behaving a little better than others. At the same time a new villain is introduced and a new type of story is brought into the franchise. This villain and his team are out to execute the greatest heist ever, even at the potential cost of millions of lives. Luke Hobbs (The Rock) and his partner Riley (Gina Carano) are on the case. In the most abbreviated narrative writing ever Hobbs decides that it basically takes a criminal to catch a criminal. He makes this decision having not even attempted to catch the bad guys once himself. He has a trump card to force Dom’s (Vin Diesel) team into action too: he has proof that Dom’s presumed dead girlfriend and member of the team Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is alive and a part of this new group of international criminals. Again in excessively, near laughable fashion, Dom and Brian’s (Paul Walker) significant others give them the go ahead and jump back into action, regardless of the danger. These women don’t even show a minimal amount of concern for their men. The first few minutes of the movie flies by at this breakneck pace barreling on to get to the good parts. It’s as if Lin wanted to just hit all of the required character marks with as little effort as possible in order to get right into the action. This would normally bother me but based on this film’s pedigree we’re lucky to even get those basic character arc moments no matter how clichéd their execution is.
This franchise started out as a remake of Point Break for the most part. You had a group of thieves that were all a part of some extreme sport. The franchise has “evolved” into an almost Mission Impossible sort of thing now. You’ve still got the expert drivers but now there’s a tech expert and some bad assed fighters too. Yes it all sounds dumb and honestly it is dumb, really dumb. The thing is that the characters are all extremely charismatic, the action is flawless and exciting, and for the most part the humor works. What you end up with is a roller coaster and cotton candy. It’s not smart, it’s not long lasting, but while you’re at the theme park it’s a crap ton of fun. Furious 6 never hits the highs that made Fast 5 such a surprise and such a good time but it does give fans of the franchise, and those just looking for summer escapism what they’re looking for. The addition of Gina Carano doesn’t exactly up the acting game in this movie but she does up the fighting. This lady is a bad ass in these scenes; they just feel natural to her and extremely painful.
Honestly this may be the worst written story of the summer. There’s even a scene where the bad guy gives Brian all the answers because in his words “you’re a walking dead man so I might as well tell you”. Of course we all know that he gets outta this particular situation with all the answers. It’s just painfully stupid. If it weren’t for the success of all of the previously mentioned good stuff Furious 6 would be a direct to DVD $5 bin special. The thing is the good stuff is just really good. On an up note it seems like Diesel has recovered from the stroke I felt like he must have suffered during the making of Fast Five because there’s only one or two scenes where I couldn’t understand what he said. Here’s the thing, this isn’t a good movie but it is a fun movie. Take that as you will.
So this week we talk about Teen Mom sex tapes, the return of Honey Boo Boo, Iron Chef America Tournament of Champions, Amazing Race, and squirting!
Directed by Carl Upsdell
Starring Eli Gabay, Brian Drummond, Alex Zahara, Trevor Devall
Created by Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee
The Inhumans, a lesser-known yet intriguing aspect of Marvel Comics, breaks out into the video market with the motion comic of Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee’s award-winning miniseries. Does award-winning comic writing still translate into motion?
The Inhumans are a secretive culture of ancient genetically-modified people who have avoided contact with the rest of mankind for their entire existence. That avoidance is tested as their home city of Attilan, located on the recently-resurfaced island of Atlantis, has become a target for greedy politicians and warmongers wanting access to the Inhumans’ advanced technology. The Inhumans, lead by their King Black Bolt whose voice destroys mountains, must defend against an invading force and an unknown threat from within.
This motion comic collects the 1998-1999 12-issue miniseries by Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee, winning the pair an Eisner Award for best new series. (Eisners are basically the Academy Awards for comics) It splits focus between Black Bolt and his royal family, a young generation of Inhumans just getting their powers, the submissive Neanderthal-like Alpha Primitive race, and the humans outside.
The Inhumans are a lesser-known franchise in the Marvel universe, probably better known for their occasional run ins with the Fantastic Four. While there are small cameos by a couple of more notable Marvel characters, this is entirely their show. It does a good job catching the viewer up with the characters and the society, even the disturbing prejudice that runs through the Inhumans.
The Inhumans in the spotlight are well developed as characters, seeing their pros and cons and a wide range of emotions from frustration to elation and more. The human antagonists don’t fare as well, with shallow personalities and generic motivations.
As with every Marvel motion comic DVD/Blu-Ray release I’ve watched, this one also divides each part – all 12 of them – into its own short episodes, annoyingly playing credits between each one. With these interruptions every 10 minutes, it’s hard to stay engaged. Worse yet, the theme music used each time – an overly serious and somber tune that takes you out of the mood to watch the story.
Making the engagement matter worse is the heavy-handed third-person narration following the entire story. The dull, existentialist-wannabe narrator continually pulls you away from the actions on screen, making this work feel less like an event unfolding onscreen and more like the boring dribble you find yourself drifting off to in English class.
Perhaps because the narration and constant interruptions seem to draw this out, but the overall film feels far too long than it needs to be. Several parts in the middle could have been further compressed. What takes moments to read on a page takes considerably longer to watch play out, particularly with the aforementioned bloated narration.
With all of these hurdles, if you manage to stick with it, you do find yourself invested in the climatic payoff, only to be hampered by a weak resolution that leaves the audience unfulfilled.
I enjoy the Inhuman characters, their culture, and their culture clash with humanity. This conflict does a good job exploring all of that. The execution though, particularly in this motion comic form, is lacking.
The Video and Audio
The art drops quality from paper to motion video, not nearly as clean as Jae Lee’s original work. This is painfully obvious when you look at the cover adorned in art from the books. The animation itself is often jerky, laughably so at times.
The audio is workable. Some of the voices start sounding alike, and you start to not notice who is talking. (Also a fault of the poor animation) It doesn’t help that several of the voice cast perform multiple characters.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
This one disc set in a flimsy cardboard case comes with a half-hour documentary on the making of the Inhumans comic mini-series that became this motion comic. The documentary features heavily on writer Paul Jenkins coming into the Inhumans franchise he wasn’t familiar with and working with artist Jae Lee. Also interviewed is Marvel’s Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada – who helped create the “Marvel Knights” label of outside creatives breathing new life into characters falling to the wayside, which included the Inhumans.
It’s usually enlightening to hear about the creative process of renowned comics, and this doc measures up. It’s honestly a more entertaining and easier watch than the motion comic itself.
With that said, the bonuses are otherwise slim pickings. Given the relative obscurity of the Inhumans over some of Marvel’s other properties, this really could have benefitted from character bios or a history recap.
Overall (Not an Average)
I read this story some number of years ago in the trade book. While I don’t remember too much from then, I know I didn’t feel like this work was as long and dull as this viewing. It’s the weakness of motion comics. Instead of properly adapting a story into a new medium in a way that better fits it, motion comics often just scan the comic and animate a character here and there. Things that work fine in print, like the narration, don’t play as well in video and audio.
I also understand that these parts, episodes, issues, or whatever were originally made to be released one at a time online, but on home video, they should be compiled for a single viewing experience without interruptions by the credits every 10 minutes. Think of trade collections versus single issues.
Until Marvel learns to adapt these comics for a video medium properly and change the storytelling aspects that don’t translate well from print to video, these home releases of Marvel’s motion comics suffer a steep handicap.
The Film 5/10
The Video and Audio 4/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 6/10
Overall (Not an Average) 4/10
Directed by: David O. Russell
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Chris Tucker
The Silver Linings Playbook was so over hyped so over loved that I had a sense of just not wanting to be sucked in by it. The film is also of a genre that just doesn’t appeal to me. I am a film fan of the most hardcore degree, the most critical, so a genre built more on formula than any other is just a genre I have little respect for. But, now that the film is off the box office top 10 and I didn’t have to pay full ticket price I thought I’d give it a chance and see if it was worth the hype.
The Silver Linings Playbook is built completely on the classic formula of a romantic comedy. You could maybe argue that other genres that I do appreciate such as action films and horror are also built on predictable formula and you’d be right. The difference is that within those genres are tons of films that push the formula, reinvent it, and experiment with it. The romantic comedy genre of film though is less brave; that formula is built on mass lowest common denominator appeal so too many stretches in story telling is just taking too much of a chance at turning off the primary audience. There are those very few films within the genre that do make an attempt at doing something new and challenging but there are so few of them you can count them on two hands. I was hoping that Silver Linings Playbook would be one of those standout films. In a nutshell the film most definitely is not. This film is completely predictable from the first five minutes of the film. BTW, there will be spoilers here so if that’s an issue for you I’d stop reading now and watch the movie then come back.
Bradley Cooper plays a mentally disturbed man pulled from a facility by his mother who wants to help him restart his life. His mother may be the one character that understands Cooper’s character the most because her husband played by Robert De Niro is the one who passed on his own mental issues. So this poor woman has dealt with these problems for two generations. Pat (Cooper) is missing his ex-wife and his old life when he meets another mentally challenged woman played by Jennifer Lawrence. The two eventually hit it off in their own odd way and she agrees to help Pat reunite with his ex-wife in exchange for helping her win a dance competition. Tiffany (Lawrence) deals with her own eccentricities with her dancing, not that she’s particularly amazing at it, it just calms her. She agrees to deliver a letter to Pat’s ex once they begin working on a dance routine. At that moment you know that Pat will eventually be writing a letter to Tiffany and you won’t be surprised. As simplistic as the story is there are even issues that previous reviews have looked over; most notably that the “playbook” part of the film is just a throw away thing and actually gets lost in the story. The “silver linings” part ends up just being a plot tool with no real merit or impact.
Every single beat of this films’ arc including the relationships, and the dance competition is painfully predictable. I’m not someone who sits in a movie and tries to work things out as the movie progresses, I just tend to soak it all in and consider it after the closing credits. When a movie is just so on the nose that I’m slapped in the face with all of the big beats before they happen I feel insulted. There are literally no surprises in this film. That’s not to say that Silver Linings Playbook doesn’t work on some level though. Jennifer Lawrence won an Academy award for her performance in this film and she absolutely deserved the award. That award isn’t about the overall quality of the film it’s about a particular actor’s work within a film. Lawrence is charismatic and a joy to watch in the film. Bradley Cooper also puts in a solid performance, add to that a good show from Robert De Niro a fun soundtrack, and the surprising humor of Chris Tucker and you have a bad story that is elevated by some of its elements. It’s predictable kind of like eating chicken. You know what chicken tastes like and if you like it then this bird is well cooked. Silver Linings Playbook isn’t nearly a groundbreaking film in its genre but as one of a million other options it’s one of the better choices. The film is directed by David O. Russell and compared to the rest of his filmography he is slumming with this film. Check out some of his previous directing work such as I Heart Huckabees, Three Kings, and Spanking the Monkey.
The Spring game is technically over but there are still numbers to report because Oblivion and Pain and Gain still brought in money over the weekend! The biggest news is that Niko has officially taken over the #1 spot of both the contributor and listener brackets! He broke $400 million leaving Bill’s $393+ million total.
Here are the numbers so far:
Directed by: James Tucker
Starring: Matt Bomer, Stana Katic, John Noble, Molly C. Quinn
DC/Warner Brothers has a group of collaborators to craft these direct to DVD/blu-ray/VOD films that previously crafted some of the best animated super hero television shows of all time. As great as Marvel’s films are their animated movies have been failures. DC on the other hand has released a string of great animated feature films based on their classic super hero characters. Superman Unbound is the latest release featuring this familiar craftsman.
Superman has a shortlist of classic villains including Doomsday, Lex Luthor, and Brainiac. These three baddies in particular are the only ones that have found ways to take out the Man of Steel in spite of him being nearly unbeatable. So, it’s inevitable that DC would eventually bring us a Brainiac film considering there has already been a Doomsday film and Luthor has permeated Superman’s animated life from the beginning. Brainiac is similar to a Borg from Star Trek; he’s mostly made of machine but there’s just enough bio matter to piece him together. He travels the universe taking the knowledge bio life forms and then destroying them in an attempt to better the universe. Along the way he takes samples of the most interesting life forms and stores them in bottles. Most notably, and a classic story in the DC comics, he took a single city from Superman’s home world of Krypton Via a probe Brainiac discovers the existence of Earth and of course the existence of Superman, so the battle begins.
On top of Superman vs. Brainiac there are a few subplots happening; Supergirl’s struggle to find her place on a world where she only has one other of her species and Lois and Clark finding their way in their relationship. Brainiac should be a truly scary character and for the first time in a Superman animated film the villain is horrifying. He’s cold, uncaring, and unstoppable. As powerful as Supergirl is she is frozen in fear at just the thought of Brainiac because she was on Krypton when he came, when she and no one else on her planet had any power to stop him. The film is edgy featuring a good bit of murder and bloodletting and that sense of fear is buffered by a much more adult atmosphere featuring strong language and even some hand gestures not common in animated films.
Superman faces off against Brainiac with no previous knowledge of the villain and of course he underestimates Brainiac leading to even bigger and more dangerous battles. The sad thing about the film is the story does such a good job of building the atmosphere of feat that the failings of the artwork are painfully apparent. It’s not that the art is completely horrible but it just doesn’t always match the adult vibe of the story. Brainiac definitely has a much better design in this film than the character originally had in comics when he was first introduced but in later years he actually comes off scarier than he does in this film. Overall though this film is a solid success, the directing, acting, and story execution is outstanding. This is an adult story and the characters are complex and multilayered, Supergirl in particular. The action does devolve at a few points to Superman’s basic punch punch heat vision and punch again but the final act action works well. DC comics are much more sci-fi than Marvel’s more grounded stories and that trend continues here with some on the nose science fiction themes wrapping up the story. While this thematic choice does soften the horror elements of the film it does fit with the overall DC universe. The biggest failing of this film is the name. Superman Unbound is just a dumb name and it doesn’t really have any impact on the story.
The film is presented in widescreen in 1080p HD and colors and lines look great with no major aliasing issues, something that often plagues animated films. The artwork is just bizarre though. DC’s animated films have always gone for a retro sort of 50’s art deco approach and while that does continue here it’s augmented with some bad choices. Some scenes with Clark Kent in particular feature him having and enormous body and a tiny little pin head, it just looks dumb. There are also a couple of human characters that are just Daily Planet employees that are built identical to Superman. That just doesn’t make any sense. When in full on Superman mode the character looks a little like an old character from videogames called Vector Man. The important thing to know about the character is that he’s just sort of a stack of balls that make up his shape, Superman is the same.
The Surround sound audio is fairly basic in design. The overall dynamics of the audio are almost flat lined, no explosive bass or ringing score here. On the upside dialogue is crisp and clean and special FX are distortion free and they sound exactly as they are meant to sound, not a spectacular presentation but it gets the job done.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The Blu-ray is presented in a standard amaray case along with a digital copy and DVD of the film. The holographic slipcover featuring some action from the movie is quite eye catching and it feels much more special than the case itself actually is. There are a few good supplements on the blu-ray that actually enhance the movie watching experience. The best featurette is one that covers who Brainiac is and what impact he has had on the DC universe. The featurette has interviews with some of DC’s pros as well as those involved in the film. It’s a simple talking head affair but it features some great archival images from the comics. Speaking of archive there’s another featurette called “From the DC Archives” which sort of follows Brainiac’s timeline. On top of all that there’s actually an audio commentary that also features some great behind the scenes information. What we have here isn’t very deep but it’s so much better than we’d expect from a direct to home video animated film.
Superman Unbound is another solid entry in DC Entertainment’s stable of well executed super hero animated films. If you’re a fan then this one is a must see. It’s not as good as Superman/Batman Public Enemies but it’s better than Superman/Doomsday. Also thank you DC for avoiding the celebrity name dropping and just bringing back the voice actors that originally made these characters great.
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10
The Movie 8/10
The Video 7/10
The Audio 7/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 8/10
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10
Iron Chef America on Food Network is easily one of the longest running game show/reality TV shows still running on basic cable, or on any network really. The series originally started in Japan, then it moved here and was briefly on Fox and hosted by William Shatner. That stint was very short and then the show was taken over by a burgeoning basic cable network whose entire content was to be food focused. The approach was very much that of a sporting event. Two of the best in their field would compete with a given set of rules that included ingredients and a time limit. Three judges score the competition and there’s a host and two color commentators. One of the show’s commentators was and still is food scientist Alton Brown.
For the first eight years of the show the rules remained the same; an Iron Chef, one of the best in the world would face off against a competing chef. The two chefs’ would have to each craft five dishes in one hour all featuring a mystery ingredient. As the show has continued a spinoff show started called the Next Iron Chef. On that show top tier chef’s competed in various trials to become the next Iron Chef added to the team on the main series. Last year the show added two new rules; the first is that the competitors must have their first dish prepared and served to the judges within the first 20 minutes, the second rule is that the show’s host would throw the chef’s a culinary curve ball at the halfway point of the cooking. The curve ball could be an additional ingredient but thus far it has been some sort of cooking tool that must be utilized in the chef’s dishes. The show producers have to be careful not to over complicate the set up too much and causing the whole thing to implode in on itself.
This season the series is set up to do something it has never done in its running time. The subtitle of this season is “Tournament of Champions”. The season gets that title because this time around there will be no outside competitors; the Iron Chefs will all be competing against each other. The both humorous and cool thing about this season is that the “game” is set up more like a sporting event than ever before. The season will consist of a single elimination bracket with the newest Iron Chefs competing first and working their way through to the Chefs that have been on the show the longest. This is probably the best way to set the show up because to do it any other way would immediately be saying this Iron Chef is better than that one when they are all supposed to be the best of the best.
The first episode of the season was last Sunday and it featured the show’s two newest Iron Chefs: Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian and Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli. This was a fun battle because these two chefs are actually close friends. They competed on The Next Iron Chef together and after Zakarian won Guarnaschelli joined his team as his assistant. She won a follow up season of Next iron Chef and now the two are battling it out as Iron Chefs. During the battle Alton Brown referred them as the “Sid and Nancy” of Iron Chef. Is this a compliment? At any rate their secret ingredient was potato chips for which they used as breading, in a dessert, and Zakarian even made pasta with the tasty snack. In the end Iron Chef Zakarian handily defeated his good friend and moved forward in the bracket set to compete against Iron Chef Michael Simon the next time he steps into the arena.
Iron Chef America might not be football or basketball but it is a sporting event in that professionals at the top of their game are competing. The difference here is that there’s an additional level of artistry involved, which of course makes the scoring difficult. The judging of art is so subjective and so much based on opinion. There are aspects of this particular art that can be judged such as texture of ice cream or over cooked fish but when the basics are perfectly executed the scoring suddenly becomes left to the tastes of the judges. It’s a tough thing scoring art, but it’s a fantastic ride watching these pros work.
This week we talk videogame announcements, fantasy film ball, and dildos but that’s all a distant second to the in depth Iron Man 3 analysis!
Directed by: Shane Black
Starring Robert Downey Jr.
This review comes after the film has already released so some assumptions will be made; the most important of those is that you’ve already seen the movie. If for some reason you’ve been hiding under a giant lump of kryptonite waiting for Superman instead of forking over the bucks for the man of iron then I’d recommend skipping to the last paragraph because spoilers will abound.
As many issues as Iron Man 2 had the film still managed to bring the heart to it that director Jon Favreau instilled into the first film. While up to that point the director wasn’t known as a hardcore comic book fan he is in fact enough of a fan of the Marvel Universe to really bring passion to the story he told in the first film and again in the second film even though it was kind of a mess. So, when he stepped back from the directing chair many fans were concerned. Shane Black was quickly ushered in to fill the daunting role of continuing the film franchise. Not much was made of this new director moving in and it was done really quickly, probably to try and slow down too much fan boy distress over the change. Prior to Iron Man 3, Black has only directed one other film; Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. That film also starred Robert Downey Jr. Apparently the two had a good working relationship and with the success of the previous two Iron Man films Downey Jr. has much more pull in the direction of storytelling and obviously in helping pick those that get behind the camera. Black does have a phenomenal writing pedigree being the scribe of some of the best action films of the 80’s including Lethal weapon 1 and 2, The Last Boy Scout, and the highly under appreciated The Long Kiss Goodnight.
Iron Man 3 completes a story arc for both Iron Man and Tony Stark. One can’t help but wonder how many of the pieces have been in place from the beginning, especially since we got our first look at Iron Man’s greatest enemy, The Mandarin in the first film. Obviously the villain ends up being a lot different in this film than was previously hinted, mainly because of Black’s sort of comedic approach to the action. Black and his co-writers did use current versions of Stark, Iron Man, and the Mandarin from the comics in the storytelling though. Fans who are crying foul now at the twist in the film regarding the super villain aren’t obviously real fans of the comics as they might have you believe. They are fans of the old school somewhat racist version of the villain that just doesn’t fit in modern storytelling. What happens in the film isn’t too much of a stretch from the way the villain is portrayed in the modern comics and this portrayal just fits better with the Tony stark story along with the action of Iron Man. That really gets to the meat of this film, this third act in the Iron Man story is really a Tony Stark Story.
Tony struggles with what happened in New York in a truly interesting way. In the suit he’s nearly invincible but is that really where he’s the hero, is that truly where his super powers exist? This movie says no. He’s a super hero because he’s both a heroic person in heart and in mind and he’s brilliant, always one step ahead of everyone around him villain or not. So when the events of New York continue to haunt him as Tony Stark and not as Iron Man his true weakness may be finally revealed. In Iron Man 3 Stark spends a huge chunk of time being Tony stark, the new Tony Stark, the man who has become a hero, has settled down with one woman, and the man who is facing his most devious villain. Black managed to bring in notes of buddy cop, which plays into his wheelhouse (Lethal Weapon) and espionage, both very human elements of the story that are often not a part of super hero comics. Some of this more human type of story was previously best represented in Captain America: The First Avenger.
So, to the point, Black does a ton of things right with this film. Black crafts a human end to the trilogy, he still manages some of the best action scenes we’re likely to see on the big screen this year, he brings on a twist in the super villain that also humanizes someone that just wouldn’t have worked in the atmosphere previously crafted in the first two films, and he continues to let Downey Jr. shine in the role. Iron Man 3 isn’t a perfect film though. As great as Iron Man 3 is the film is missing that heart, that underlying passion for the subject that Favreau brought to the franchise. That feeling is a little crushed by all of the Black tropes that he manages to wedge into this film as good as they may be. Also, Iron Man 3 is a bit too comedic. The first two films managed comedy relief, even some goofy comedy relief, without making the film feel like an action/comedy. Those films worked because Stark was the only funny one in them and usually he was funny because he was being a smartass or just being smart, outside of the goofy robots. In this third film there are other characters that are just over the top funny which feels like too much when added to the inherent humor that Downey Jr. has infused into Tony Stark. There are some real hiccups in storytelling in the film too in a couple of places. There’s one scene in a bar where Tony and a new buddy are trying to get answers about the Mandarin where everyone either knows way too much or they literally know nothing for the first few minutes. The wrinkle does eventually get straightened out but what we get is a pretty awkward start. Also, we get explanation about how Tony’s armor can be at the right place at the right time but there’s another scene where he jumps into a car and you’ll wonder if he’s planning to hotwire it but when the car is driving itself you are just left to assume otherwise.
Nearly every Marvel character has a weakness that can end them if they don’t guard it properly. Tony Stark’s weakness has always been the piece of shrapnel being held in place by the power source for the Iron Man suit. So there has always been this fantastic story element that the device that makes him a hero is also the device that keeps him alive. One good comic book story arc adds to the story by making something happen to the device causing it to slowly kill him too. At the end of this film that weaknesses is just nonchalantly removed as if no big deal at all. Now Stark’s reasons for having not removed it before are interesting character-wise but removing that little piece of metal completely changes the character too.
Iron Man 3 is a fantastic movie and a true adventure ending film for this first trilogy. All of my complaints aside the film is still just fantastic. With that said though, there are some decisions that don’t work and hamper what could have been a perfect film. I have to say also, while the check your brain at the door requirement is fully in place, there’s a midair rescue done by Iron Man of several people falling from a plane that must be seen on a big screen. The scene was actually performed PRACTICALLY too! By the way, don’t see Iron Man 3 in 3-D, it’s not worth the bucks.
By now everyone should know that I have a drag queen residing in my body. I’m not ashamed. It should come as no surprise that my obsession over the past couple of months has been Rupal’s Drag Race. And dare I say… this is the best season ever! And after all of the sequins, silicone, and cake make-up, we finally have the final three queens.
The final three are Roxxxy Andrews, Alaska, and Jynkx Monsoon. Roxxxy Andrews is the first “juicy” or “full-figured” queen to make it to the final three. Her signature move is to come out with a cape- like garment on top and tear it away to reveal her amazing body and some barely there garment. Miss Roxxxy was one of my first favorite queens, but her star quickly faded for me. Roxxxy has a tendency to rely on her looks rather than her sharp wit, and brings down other queens for using their hilarity and uniqueness rather than focusing on glamour and looks.
Alaska was the most anticipated contestant this season because of her famous boyfriend, better known as Sharon Needles. Wait… boyfriend? Sharon? Yes, indeed friends, another drag queen. Sharon was the winner of last season’s drag race and was the first queen to win the crown who wasn’t a glamour queen. Alaska came into the competition in her shadow, but has shown everyone that she has the lion’s share of bubbliness, hilarity, and goofiness between she and Sharon. Alaska has shown time and time again that she is a formidable force, and has NEVER been in the bottom two!
Jynkx Monsoon is a Gingered Narcoleptic Comedy Queen from Seattle. And yes, every part of that statement is true. I will admit that in the beginning she caught my eye because of her narcolepsy but since then has become my favorite. She is one of the best triple threats this competition has ever seen. She sings, dances, and is probably the best character actresses to ever compete on this show. She does indeed lack a little in the make-up and wardrobe department, BUT Ms Monsoon is only 24 years old… and lives in Seattle… Seattle! People there wear Burkinstocks like Christian Loubitouns.
Bottom line, this competition is not only about who has done the best consistently, but also who has grown the most. I think that most fans can agree that Jynx Monsoon has improved the most, while consistently performing at a high level. But Ru does not always listen to my screamings and rantings at the TV, and has crowned some queens in the past that I would like to forget (cough cough Tyra Sanchez), BUT you can actually watch for yourself on Logotv.com and vote for who you think should win the crown, the cruise, the make-up, and headline the tour. Because if you can’t love a man in a dress how in the HELL are you gonna love yourself? Can I get an Amen? Now, let the music play!
Written by Corey Taylor
Art by Richard Clark
A man wakes up in a strange land with no idea who or where he is, suddenly chased by ghostly mobs and a doppelganger. Sounds intriguing enough, but does the book go anywhere with it?
This first issue follows an unnamed human male around a dreamlike field. The character is unnamed except for the label “Zero” on his jumpsuit, almost like a prison suit. He also doesn’t know who he is, so don’t expect any answers from him anytime soon.
During his escapade, he meets a ghost-like creature who takes his likeness and calls himself Allen. He warns the human of an unknown event called “The Conflagration.” Allen tells the human and us that the key to leaving this crazy world is at the House of Gold and Bones, but can the human get there before Black Jack’s ghastly gang catches up to him?
If this sounds particularly surreal, it is. We readers are as unaware of what’s going on as the human, so we become just as frustrated as he is at this confusing predicament. Why is he being chased? Where is he and where is he going? What is going on? Who is this guy? No idea to any of these.
Yes, it’s the first issue, so it’s supposed to set up the general mystery of the story. It’s also supposed to introduce us to the characters and the world so that we have a starting point we can grasp. I’m not the biggest fan of overdone exposition, but it’s better than none.
The human himself is a bland character. He’s confused and angry about this strange situation he’s in, as anyone would, but he doesn’t do anything to gain our favor as an interesting protagonist. I don’t care what happens to him and would much rather explore the world, which doesn’t get done much in this first issue. It reminds me of the 2009 The Prisoner remake with Jim Caviezel and Ian McKellen, except without anyone as charismatic as Jim Caviezel or Ian McKellen.
There’s no foundation set to hook us into this world, and there’s no character we feel drawn to, so there’s no real investment to keep us readers wanting to know the mystery of this world and this book.
The artwork is serviceable for the story. Unfortunately, as the story isn’t really exciting as you can tell from the above, the art follows suit and feels bland. Several of the panels and the character blocking are bland. Some of the facial expressions are off-putting and unnatural.
The key scene for the art to make its mark – the scene where the human and we readers get a look at this strange new world – is a letdown by how unremarkable it is. This is supposed to be a strange, disorienting world, and we just see a plain valley and some mountains with a sunset.
One of the variant covers, a red and black portrait of the man screaming, is a neat artistic take with the title in white with some splattering effects and a definition of “overture” (the title of the issue). It’s a good cover, but the inside just doesn’t measure up.
Overall (Not an Average)
First issues are hard, especially for brand new series without any established characters or tie-ins. You have to hook readers right away, or else they won’t stick around for issue two. I won’t be sticking around for issue two of this one. I hope the story develops more quickly for those who do.
Overall (Not an Average) 4/10
The world premiere of the first teaser trailer for ENDER’S GAME will debut during a Google+ Hangout on Tuesday, May 7 @ 1:00 PM PT / 4:00 PM ET. The event will also feature a live conversation with director Gavin Hood (X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE), producer Bob Orci (STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS) and star Asa Butterfield (HUGO).
Stars Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield want to say hello and show you a sneak peek of the first footage ever released of the highly anticipated epic adventure:
You can tune in to the live Google+ Hangout at YouTube.com/EndersGameMovie and Google.com/+EndersGame. Fans are invited to submit their questions for a chance to have them answered in the Hangout. Join in the conversation online using #EndersGame.
Join the event here: https://plus.google.com/events/cuito512urg0a64r6bc2ocuakuc
Samsung’s double barreled assault of a solid marketing campaign and stellar device design has helped them wedge the Samsung Galaxy series of phones into the spotlight right alongside Apple’s iPhone. The Korean company has just released the fourth generation of the franchise for rabid fans.
The biggest difference in the s3 and this new s4 is that there isn’t a ton of difference. What we have here overall is a refining of an existing phone along with some tweaks. The s3 was a near perfect phone as far as Android based phones go. Of course no phone is perfect and this new revision improves on that classic flagship phone. The s4 features Google Android Jellybean, the newest version of the OS which is kind of a big deal because this phone is the first to be running the new OS. Like the phone itself this new version of the OS is just an updating, or at least it seems so, with a few new features. The most fantastic new feature is Google Now. Google Now uses a combination of GPS location, on phone apps, emails, and Google searches to push relevant information to the phone. Without doing anything as far as set up Google Now knew to tell me the local weather, let me know about a friend’s birthday, and let me know that Iron Man 3 is opening in theaters this weekend. This sort of intimate knowledge of me is both amazing and useful and completely freaky. Google Now will also monitor emails to Gmail and if you have shipment notifications in email it will let you know the latest tracking information on packages. Google Now is constantly updating and adding more information at your fingertips based on your Google searches, your emails, and your app usage. Again, this is ridiculously useful and aggressively freaky. You can access the information by clicking the familiar Google search bar from the desktop of the phone and as information updates Google Now will also push it to the phone as a notification like all of the others you typically get.
If you’re upgrading from a previous Galaxy phone this one is extremely familiar and easy to settle into. There are new features and the look has been tweaked but you’ll know your way around right away. Perhaps the most useful new feature in Samsung’s Android implementation is the ability to utilize multiple applications in the same window. When this feature is active a tiny tab is always visible on screen. When you have one app open you can tap the tab and a customizable menu bar will slide into view with other common apps listed. You can choose one of these apps right away and bring the tab back up to return to your previous app. It’s simple, quick, easy and actually useful and not just a new gimmick.
There are some new gimmicks added to Samsung’s version of Android though. One of the gimmicks could be slightly useful in the winter and the other two seem just silly. The first is the ability to hover your finger directly over the phone screen, not touching, to activate apps and preview images. This is an advantage because you can do this with gloves on. So, in the winter this mode could be a real time saver. It works fairly well but it does take some getting used to in order to get your finger that close to the screen without actually touching it. Smart scrolling one of the sort of goofy party tricks. When you are reading an email, surfing the net, or looking at text in other compatible applications the screen will scroll based on eye and head movements. If you glance up or down the screen will scroll in the appropriate direction. The act of bobbing your head up and down while looking at your phone never feels comfortable or not weird plus the feature is unreliable depending on the position of your head and eyes relative to the screen of the phone. The other new feature involves being able to swipe pages and control the phone with gestures above the screen rather than actually touching and swiping. If you’re going to simply wave your hands above the screen why not just go ahead and touch the screen? While this feature seems more like a parlor trick than a feature it also feels like the base version of something that could eventually evolve into something really useful down the line.
The best upgrade of this phone involves something that Samsung has done right with this phone series from the beginning; the screen. The s3 featured a 4.8’ 720p amoLED screen that was easily one of the most vibrant screens of any phone. The s4 steps up in size and resolution. The new screen is a full 5’ and it more importantly jumps to 1080p. The phone is able to feature a larger screen but not an excessively larger overall phone compared to the s3. The bezel of this phone is smaller than that of the s3 and the size adjustment happens on the vertical making the width of the phone not much different from the s3. This decision is valuable because we end up getting a bigger screen but not a phone that’s suddenly too wide to wrap our hands around. This screen is slightly dimmer than that of the s3 but the higher resolution makes the whole experience much more detailed and dynamic. Pictures and videos look fantastic in full HD on this phone and the camera, while not the best in the industry, is still a solid offering at 13 megapixels. The front facing camera is 2 megapixels and this phone has the ability to take simultaneous pictures from both cameras. The camera features zoom control by pinching, autofocus, and several picture modes that you probably won’t use very often.
The battery on this phone is much improved over that of the s3 but if you’re a power user then you’ll still be recharging the device daily. My review unit is from AT&T and it’s supposed to be capable of over 350 hours of standby time, and up to 17 hours of talk time. I used the phone for literally everything including talk, texting, email, audiobooks from audible, music, and more so I was constantly charging the phone. To get a little techy it’s important to note that the s4 features a 1.9 GHZ quad core CPU, a noticeable update from the s3. Overall the phone is snappier than the s3 but the new OS requires more CPU cycles so the faster CPU and more resource heavy OS almost balances the user experience compared to the s3.
The Samsung Galaxy s4 is a slick and polished phone that’s one of the best on the market. It’s an easy update for Galaxy phone users and it offers the most modern Android experience out there for any smartphone fan.
The Build and Presentation
This new version of the Galaxy phone does away with all of the rounded edges of the previous phone in favor of a slimmer build and hard edges. The phone is still made from the durable plastic rather than metal such as some of the iPhones and other similar phones. The new case features a tiny ridge that sits above the screen which is a great add because if the phone is dropped the screen might just survive because it won’t land flush. For its size this big phone is fairly light at just over 4and a half ounces. The phone is light but it steels feels meaty and well-constructed. The camera and flash on the back of the camera also feature a raised ridge that keeps the phone from sitting flat but the ridge also again may protect the camera from getting scratched or broken upon being dropped. The AT&T version of the phone comes in black and white with a slightly textured back. The white actually looks much nicer than the black because the texture is less visible on the white phone.
The Samsung Galaxy s4 is likely to disappoint some Galaxy users in the same way that the iPhone 5 disappointed iPhone 4 users because there weren’t just tons of revolutionary changes. This version of the Galaxy phone is evolutionary. The phone features a much upgraded screen, a faster CPU, and a newer version of the android OS which will obviously run better on this faster phone than on the previous version if that phone eventually gets a Jellybean update. The galaxy s4 is easily one of the top two or three phones on the smartphone market period.
Overall (Not an Average) 9/10
The Phone 9/10
The Build and Presentation 8/10
Overall (Not an Average) 9/10