Archives for April, 2012
So I handily won the first ever CineGeek fantasy Film Ball game by strategic choices and brilliant deductive skills, well ok mostly just because I won Hunger Games in the bidding but Journey 2 and a few other money makers did seal the deal for the Winter/Spring block. Jonathan pulled an upset over Bill with his choice of Hunger Games as well in the listener bracket. The summer block won’t be so easily won though. There are several films that will make big bank this summer and many other that will make moderate money so the game will definitely be much more challenging.
Below shows all of the films that both the contributor and listener brackets will be bidding on for the summer black. The only difference is that the listener bracket will not get the last month of films because their games must end before ours so that we have a winner to participate with us in the fall game. The bidding is going to start out pretty insane since the first film up for grabs will be the hotly anticipated The Avengers. Check out the entire list of films we’ll be playing for below and make your own predictions. Then join us live Wednesday night at 6:30c on Ustream to see how the bidding goes. If you can’t join us live as always you can grab the webcast the next day on Stitcher Radio or on iTunes just by searching “CineGeek”.
Fantasy Film Ball Summer 2012 Films
11-May Dark Shadows
16-May The Dictator
25-May Chernobyl Diaries
25-May Men in Black III 3D
1-Jun Pirannah 3DD
1-Jun Snow White & the Huntsman
8-Jun Madagascar 3
15-Jun Jack the Giant Killer
15-Jun Rock of Ages
15-Jun That’s My Boy
22-Jun Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Killer
22-Jun Seaking a Friend for the End of the World
29-Jun GI Joe: Retaliation
29-Jun Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection
3-Jul The Amazing Spider-Man
13-Jul Ice Age: Continental Drift
20-Jul The Dark Knight Rises
27-Jul Neighborhood Watch
27-Jul Step Up: Revolution
3-Aug The Bourne Legacy
3-Aug Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days
3-Aug Total Recall
10-Aug The Campaign
20-Mar The Awakening
17-Aug The Expendables 2
24-Aug The Apparition
24-Aug Premium Rush
31-Aug The Possession
Written by Donald Glut
Art by Jesse Santos
Doctor Spektor sets off on his final set of adventures to investigate what otherworldly beings plague humanity.
Doctor Adam Spektor is a researcher of the supernatural, pursuing mysteries across the globe and beyond. His studies lead to face offs with leviathans, mummies, ancient demons, and other-worldly deities. His assistants – including girlfriend Lakota Rainflower, his cousin Anne, the psychic Elliot Kane, and more – help Spektor investigate the mystic evils that plague man, but his relationships strain from his occult obsessions.
This fourth and final volume from Dark Horse collects the last seven issues of the mid-1970s comic series from original publisher Gold Key (other Gold Key characters like the Owl and Doctor Solar make cameos). The table of contents can confuse this by listing eight issues. That’s because the “final” issue 25 is a reprint of the first issue with a variant cover, with only that cover in this book.
Being a fourth volume, it’s actually not difficult to jump into. Doctor Spektor is from a time where every issue was expected to be someone’s first, so it has a reasonable amount of exposition to get the readers in without bogging them down. Each issue is a fairly stand-alone adventure, with all references explained well enough. Some references may even pique interests in checking out the previous books (Spektor used to be a werewolf?).
With that said though, you’re left wondering why Spektor searches out the abnormal, how he makes a living from it, and more importantly, what he has a doctorate in. You won’t find these in the previous volumes though. The book was cancelled, and as co-creator/author Donald Glut explains in the introduction, the origin story was planned as the next issue before the book was put on the chopping block.
Despite its untimely demise, Doctor Spektor is an intriguing supernatural mystery series, although it’s honestly and sadly not as surreal as I would have thought. I’m glad this volume explores some more Lovecraft-inspired mythology over the generic vampires, werewolves and mummies. The negatives? The characters take their relationships over melodramatically, and the mysticism seems solved too quickly, but that was the pacing of the day. Get everything in and out in one issue, with as much impact as possible. It doesn’t always help the story, but The Occult Files of Doctor Spektor manages through.
First off, you have to remember that this is truly a pre-digital comic of its day. The hallmarks of color bleed and over-inking are present throughout the work. I’m a fan of the covers. They’re look very surreal and even horrific in some cases. They look more like paintings than simple comic covers, with soft and detailed brush strokes to get everything just right. I wish the interior art was painted the same, but that would have taken even more months just to create a single issue. Even with the simpler penciling, inking and coloring, the interior is decent.
Is the book worth it? This trade is listed at $49.99. It only contains seven issues, so that’s about $7 an issue, too much even today. Especially since the book was cancelled in the first place for poor sales. The only bonuses are the hardback cover, an introduction by author Donald Glut, and excerpts from Doctor Spektor’s occult files (which were included in the original issues’ printings).
With such a small issue count and unremarkable bonuses, I can’t justify the high cost for anyone but a big Spektor fan from the ‘70s, needing their fix. If a cheaper softcover comes down the road, it’ll be a much easier recommended read.
Overall (Not an Average) 6/10
Directed by Michael E. Briant
Starring Tom Baker and Louise Jameson
The Doctor finds himself in a murder mystery where the only possible suspects are the ever-loyal robots everyone trusts, which means it’s probably the robots.
The Doctor (Tom Baker) and his new companion, the primitive Leela (Louise Jameson), find themselves on a futuristic mining vessel in the middle of a rash of murders. Everyone suspects each other, but no one suspects the loyal robot servants, bound by programming to never harm a human. No one, that is, except the Doctor.
Yes, it sounds like the 2004 I Robot film and a dozen other robot murder mysteries. This one though came out in 1977, itself only a few decades removed from Isaac Asimov’s creation of his famed Three Laws of Robotics that dictate robots shall not injure people. It wasn’t quite the cliché story it is today.
Take away that, and you still have a decent mystery story. Someone on this ship is pulling the strings to manipulate these robots into murdering the crew. The question is who. The show does a good job casting plausibility on all of the crew of the ship. Any of them could be the mysterious mad robot scientist Taren Capel, and it’s not definitely certain who it is until the big reveal.
The acting is good. Tom Baker does a fine Doctor, and it’s easy to see why he’s such a fan favorite. He is intelligent and aloof, yet still passionate and humorous. The crew of the mining ship is unique and life-like. The robots themselves are performed in a way that seems mechanical and lifeless, yet still give off an ambiguous feeling of possible emotion, helping to add to the mystery of these robots murdering and why.
The design of the robots comes across as futuristic butlers, and it works. The masks in particular are well molded and crafted human faces with a Victorian-era hairdo, very ornamental yet emotionless. The decorative attire matches well. These may be tools, but they’re also servants in a decadent society, so of course they’d look nice.
Where this goes downhill is in the ending. The Doctor’s actual technique for turning the tables on Taren Capel is almost laughable. The following resolution is over before you know it happens, with almost no care to the characters lost or left behind. It almost makes the entire adventure trivial to the Doctor, which is possibly true given everything he’s gone through.
Basically as soon as the good murder mystery is solved, the show putters out and rushes the ending. However, the ending doesn’t detract from the whole, so it’s still a good Doctor Who story.
The Video and Audio
The video and audio are television standard fullscreen in mono. The footage is littered with weird light flares off of the robot costumes. I’m sure that could have been cleaned up a bit for the DVD release, but it could have been worse in the original broadcast.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The single-disc set has a bunch of extras that seem to be standard with these Who releases, with commentary from cast and crew, test footage, set design images and so on. The making-of documentary “The Sandmine Murders” gives a good bit of insight into the production and is a good follow-up to the actual show. The light-hearted documentary “Robophobia” covers the usage of robots throughout the stories of Doctor Who, even going so far to call out Daleks and Cybermen for not technically being robots. Both these docs are worth revisiting the disc after watching the feature.
Overall (Not an Average)
This Fourth Doctor adventure is decently entertaining, even if the ending feels rushed. It’s got enough going for it, in the actual feature and the bonuses, to make it a worthwhile watch for Who fans.
The Series 7/10
The Video and Audio 4/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 7/10
Overall (Not an Average) 7/10
This week we have Walking Dead video games to give away to ustreamers! We chat about something cool Wal-Mart is doing (Really??), condoms in porn, movie film ball, comic coolness and much more!
Yes the first annual Hunger Games, I mean Fantasy Film Ball is over for the most part. Stephen has another film coming out and Alan and Mike both have smaller films winding down but no one film or group of films can surpass the Hunger Games in the time we have left. It’s the same in the listener block with a few movies still winding down there but Jonathan has taken the day there and will be sitting in on the contributor game happening next week. We will continue to bring you the numbers each week until these movies are completely done because you never know…. (but well you kind of do know right?)
Here are the actuals:
|Contraband (4)||Mike, Bill||$62,021,555.00|
|Joyful Noise (4)||Stephen, Ada||$28,964,458.00|
|Haywire (4)||Mike, Hector||$18,579,451.00|
|The Divide||Niko, Jonathan|
|The Iron Lady (4)||Mike, Hector||$19,402,183.00|
|Coriolanus (4)||Niko, Jonathan||$267,947.00|
|Red Tails (4)||Alan, Zach||$45,080,772.00|
|Underworld Awakenings (4)||Alan, Ada||$58,914,525.00|
|The Grey (4)||Alan, Jonathan||$48,035,170.00|
|Man on a Ledge (4)||Stephen, Bill||$18,377,456.00|
|One for the Money (4)||Stephen, Hector||$25,461,147.00|
|The Woman in Black (4)||Mike, Jonathan||$50,451,681.00|
|Journey 2 Mysterious Island (4)||Stephen, Zach||$85,233,873.00|
|Safe House (4)||Niko, Hector||$108,355,425.00|
|This Means War (4)||Stephen, Bill||$46,895,410.00|
|Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (4)||Niko, Hector||$48,065,270.00|
|Gone (4)||Mike, Hector||$10,994,643.00|
|Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds (4)||Stephen, Bill||$33,099,543.00|
|Wanderlust (4)||Stephen, Bill||$16,037,790.00|
|Star Wars The Phantom Menace 3D (4)||Niko, Zach||$42,218,779.00|
|Dr. Sues’ The Lorax 3D (4)||Mike, Bill||$177,412,055.00|
|Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters 3D||Stephen||-|
|John Carter (4)||Stephen, Bill||$66,233,839.00|
|The Raven||Mike, Hector|
|21 Jump Street (4)||Mike, Hector||$109,413,763.00|
|Mirror, Mirror(4)||Alan, Ada||$55,499,932.00|
|The Hunger Games(4)||Stephen, Jonathan||$336,666,363.00|
|Wrath of the Titans(4)||Stephen, Ada||$77,232,955.00|
|American Reunion (3)||Mike||$48,518,235.00|
|The Cold Light of Day||Niko|
|Bullet to the Head||Niko||-|
|The Cabin in the Woods(2)||Mike||$27,246,247.00|
|The Three Stooges(2)||Mike||$29,919,660.00|
|House at the End of the Street||Stephen|
|Titanic 3D (3)||Alan||$52,860,574.00|
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Amy Acker, Kristen Connolly, Anna Hutchison
Directed by Drew Godard
What do you get when you take a meagerly budgeted horror flick co-written by Joss Whedon and starring Thor and a yellow Power Ranger? Well it could go one of many ways. It could go Firefly or Buffy The Vampire Slayer way, or it could go Astonishing X-Men. So what do you get? The answer is…
This film takes all the tropes of the classic horror film and riffs on them without spoofing them. It adds a heaping helping of gore, a ton of clever comedy, and even a message to get your brain working. As far as the message goes it’s difficult to discuss without getting too much into spoiler territory. Suffice it to say that Whedon and co. doesn’t have too much faith in the modern young adult’s sense of morality and, to riff on Mr. Spock from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the needs of the many versus the needs of the one. It’s a pretty interesting little nugget of conversation that you just don’t expect from the typical current generation horror film. It would be interesting to sit down with some young people and discuss their feelings on the film and what it has to say.
The story follows a stereotypical group of early twenty something’s out for a weekend at a secluded cabin. Sure the story sounds retro and so is the group of teens. There’s the virgin, the jock, the slut, and the stoner. If you take a minute to consider this group would you believe that this eclectic mix would ever spend a weekend together? You’re right they probably wouldn’t. Newer horror films tend to be more realistic with their groups of “victims”. The problem is a more realistic group of young people out for a trip means that they are all pretty much the same personality type. Yes that’s generalizing but we only have an hour and a half or so here. So with that in mind this unrealistic group works for the story and has for the last 30 years give or a take a few years. Also, the stoner often steals the show here by chewing some serious scenery.
At any rate the group finds more than they bargained for at the cabin and in a very short amount of time a family of zombies begins killing them off. The trailers revealed early on that there’s more to this film than just a horror riff. For every element of horror there’s on of science fiction. The sci-fi elements follow a familiar pattern of ancient evil utilizing modern and futuristic technology as a means to an end but the implementation of those elements in this film are completely fresh and unbelievably entertaining. For every scare there’s an equally successful scare and be warned this movie is pretty damned gory.
That’s really about all I can say about Cabin in the Woods without spoiling some really fantastic surprises. In a year that has already featured some entertaining films this one may be the best of the year so far. Whedon and his team were on fire writing the script and the execution by director Drew Godard (co-writer of Cloverfield, writer on LOST, producer of Alias) is spot on. Whedon and Godard are a team to contend with for sure. Look for some classic Whedon actors in this film but not in a wink wink nudge nudge way. These are just people he likes to work with.
Narrated by: David Attenborough
The BBC started a trend in nature documentaries that has made them more mainstream than they’ve ever been. Planet Earth, shot in spectacular HD came at the perfect time. It was a solidly made nature doc and it was so beautiful to look at that it became the defacto demo blu-ray to show off new blu-ray players and HD TV’s which were at a high in sales at the point that the blu-ray set was released. Now other companies are looking to capitalize on the success of Planet Earth. No one does it better than the originator though as is defined by the BBC release of Frozen Planet.
Frozen Planet is a seven episode documentary series covering the animal life of the North and South Poles. One extremely smart thing that the BBC does with these documentaries is they build riveting stories around the animals that they follow rather than going with little vignettes which was the classic nature doc formula. Also, as is common with most modern nature documentaries this one is message driven; especially when it comes to the rapid melting of the ice in the North Pole and the potential danger it creates for the polar bears that live there. The message is strong but it never feels too aggressive or insulting until the final episode of the group. The final episode does focus specifically on the shrinking ice and how it effects the wildlife in the rugged areas. The true focus is on the particular animals the documentarians are following, whether it be polar bears on the North Pole or penguins on the South Pole.
The bulk of the episodes are broken by season; Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. These episodes follow animals on both poles and show how the Poles and their lives change from season to season. The first episode titled The Ends of the earth is prep for the rest of the documentary. It introduces the viewer to the world that will be covered in the full series. It feels a bit rushed but it does offer up information that is helpful throughout the remaining episodes. There is one surprising episode that is quite intriguing titled The Last Frontier which focuses on humans that live in these extreme climates including natives and scientists researching the effects of the Polar Ice Caps on the global climate. One particularly harrowing segment follows Inuit men as they risk their lives to retrieve bird eggs from cliffs.
Frozen Planet is what you expect, an entertaining look at the world around us. It does have a few flaws this go around though, most notably the repetitive nature of some scenes. I actually checked the menu once to make sure I wasn’t replaying an episode I had already watched. This says to me that the documentary as a whole could have been just a little shorter. This is a minor flaw because it doesn’t happen to often.
As you might expect this 1080 HD video is nothing short of jaw dropping. The crisp blues and whites are properly blinding with the reflection of the sun with almost no artifacts to be found. Contrast and detail are both spot on. The cracks and ripples in the glaciers and the individual strands of of fur on the bears are all easily visible here. The presentation oddly is in 1080i rather than 1080p which is the standard for most HD releases these days but I couldn’t tell any shortcomings in fidelity due to this choice.
Like the video the audio here is top notch. You get a DTS HD 5.1 presentation that really feels like it surrounds you. The entire soundstage gets attention with the quiet ambient sounds of these desolate parts of the world. Narration and music are crystal clear and clean from beginning to end too. This is easily one of the best sounding documentaries ever released to home video right up there with Planet Earth.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The Blu-rays come packaged in a standard thick BD blue amaray case with attractive if a little bland artwork. The cover sells it which is what matters it just could have been a little more creative.
First up are a total of 47 2 to 3 minute long short videos under the selection Production Diaries. These shorts offer just a little insight into many different aspects of the production. They’re all interesting but painfully short making them feel rushed. The big misstep here is there is no “Play All” button. Why not?? Each episode of the series also gets a 10 minute making of that covers the challenges of crafting this project. These making of featurettes are a little healthier than the production diaries but even these could have been longer.
“Science at the Ends of the earth” is a 20 minute look at a high tech research facility at the South Pole. This little documentary is really interesting although it could have been outtake material from one of the episodes of the main doc.
“Frozen Planet: The Epic Journey” is an hour long sort of highlight reel of the entire documentary series. If you’ve watched all 6 episodes of the main documentary then there’s nothing new to see here. In fact it feels like too much good stuff got cut out for this shortened version for it to actually be worth watching.
There’s also a music only viewing option which is kind of cool if you’re just running this in the background and just want the imagery on screen.
Where are the filmmaker audio commentaries? Some of what here is great but there should be more. This series deserves more behind the scenes material.
Yes some brief sections of Frozen Planet are a bit redundant but overall it’s another fantastic entry in a growing library of amazing BBC nature documentaries.
Overall (Not an Average) 9/10
The Movie 9/10
The Video 10/10
The Audio 10/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 7/10
Overall (Not an Average) 9/10
They’re larger than life but somehow Diamond Select Toys managed to squish the world’s greatest action heroes down to miniature size! This summer the company will be releasing two sets of Expendables minimates. One of the sets will go to comic book shops all over the country and the other set will be a Toys R’ Us exclusive.
The Toys “R” Us set will feature:
- Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone)
- Trent Mauser (Arnold Schwarzenegger)
- James Munroe (Eric Roberts)
- Paine (Steve Austin)
And the Specialty set will feature:
- Lee Christmas (Jason Statham)
- Hale Caesar (Terry Crews)
- Mr. Church (Bruce Willis)
- Tool (Mickey Rourke).
Each four pack comes bundled with a dozen guns (a dozen!) and various knives and batons! Expendables 2 hits theaters on August 17th and on that day DST will also gift us with two additional sets based on that film! Check out the picture below!
We talk Cabin in the Woods, Fantasy Film Ball, AvX 2, and we got a new U Stream mic!! We make plans for an advance screening of The Avengers, the next round of fantasy film ball, and much more. Scroll down, we have more options for ways to enjoy the show!
Scroll down to stream the audio, get the show from iTunes, or watch the uncut video below too!
Directed by Xavier Gens
Starring Lauren German, Milo Ventimiglia and Michael Biehn
Next time, choose better bunk mates for your post-apocalyptic fallout shelter.
Running from nuclear attacks, apartment tenants fun for dear life to their 9/11-obsessedd superintendent Mickey’s bomb shelter. Too bad he’s not keen on the company.
I reviewed an advance copy of this film on CineGeek a few months ago. As far as I can tell, this final release hasn’t been changed, and given how little time has passed, my opinion hasn’t really either.
This film covers these random, mostly unconnected neighbors as they try to survive alone and isolated from the world, and then eventually survive each other. It’s an examination of the mental and physical breakdown of all of these characters, and it does a great job exploring the depths they fall.
These characters suffer from hunger, thirst, low oxygen, radiation poisoning, and a severe case of cabin fever. And they don’t generally get along, which only gets worse and worse. When they all snap, they all go in very different directions, yet logical for their characters. Some go psychotic and terrifying. Some break down and become submissive and meek. The cast does a great job making these transformations believable, making sure that even at their most inhuman that there’s still some humanity to these characters.
The film has a problem keeping track of time with the film’s pacing. An off-hand remark refers to weeks having gone by, and with the physical deterioration, that seems likely. However, and despite its two-hour run time, it feels like less time actually passes. This makes some of the character development seem rushed.
This is a long movie, and it’s not easy. The characters do some gross and even despicable things. But it’s an intriguing character study if you can make it through. The pay off won’t be cheery, but it’ll be fulfilling.
The film is presented in 1080p 2.35:1 widescreen. Compared to early screeners, the video is a lot crisper and cleaner. With some of the subtle physical changes – from thinning, hair loss, wrinkling and so on – the added detail definitely adds a needed touch.
The Blu-Ray comes with English Dolby TrueHD 7.1, with French 5.1 and Spanish mono (we see who got the short end of that audio stick). The audio comes through fine and clear, but there’s nothing remarkable about it.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
This release is pretty bare bones in terms of extras – only the film trailer and audio commentary with director Xavier Gens and actors Michael Biehn (Mickey), Michael Eklund (Bobby) and Milo Ventimiglia (Josh). Also included is a DVD version of the film, with the same features.
The commentary adds some good insight to the production, such as the filming done sequentially, as well as the improvisation of the cast. There does seem to be a slight delay at times on what they’re commenting on, so that’s a bit disconcerting. Also weird, the director even refers to a “making-of” at one point in the commentary, but obviously that wasn’t added on this set.
Overall (Not an Average)
The Divide is a worthwhile film if you want to see some of the worst of humanity brought out. It’s a good insight into being trapped with one another will cause people to become. The set is pretty no-thrills, and it’s not a must own, but it’s worth checking out.
The Film 7.5/10
The Video 8/10
The Audio 6/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 6/10
Overall (Not an Average) 7.5/10
Directed by: Phyllida Lloyd
Starring: Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Anthony Head, Richard E. Grant, Olivia Colman
The Iron Lady gives us a peek into the private side of Margaret Thatcher’s life. Well it purports to; this is a movie after all. I have no idea how close the movie gets to the real story of Margaret and Denis Thatcher, but it feels right, which is what’s important for a movie. I’ve finally learned better than to expect history from a movie.
Margaret Thatcher is an icon of the Twentieth Century. She is the only woman who served as Prime Minister in the U.K.. She served as Prime Minister longer than anyone else in the Twentieth Century. Her policies of privatization, her leadership against communism and her steadfastness in the Falklands War have cemented her place in the history books. How do you squeeze all of that into one hundred and five minutes of film. Well it’s kind of like dining at a buffet, you take a piece of this a bit of that, hmm that’s a good morsel lets grab a bit more, eventually making it to the end of the line.
Our time machine is dementia. The Iron Lady begins with an elderly and slightly absent minded Margaret Thatcher, embodied completely by Meryl Streep, buying a carton of milk in a convenience store. The camera follows her walking home alone which doesn’t quite sit right. Margaret Thatcher walking around London without any kind of security escort? Well maybe they just do things differently on the other side of the pond. Well not quite that different. When Thatcher returns back home we find out that she has somehow sneaked out and caused quite a stir among her minders. Of course her minders are already worried about her because she is still having conversations with Denis her husband who died eight years ago. Denis is played by Jim Broadbent and his portrayal almost manages to upstage Streep, almost. Even after eight years Thatcher has still not gone through Denis’s things. Her caregivers think the time has finally come and Carol, played by Olivia Colman, is coming by to help her sort through the stuff.
Thatcher is not in the best shape, knickknacks, old photos, news on the television or headlines in the paper send her back in time. To a night during the bombing of London in WWII when she rushes out of the shelter to cover the butter in her father’s grocery store, to moments when she served in parliament, to her introduction to the party leaders the first time she ran for office, and then back to rallies watching her father speak. Each flashback builds a bit more or the story, like waves making it a little bit further up the beach as the tide comes in. Through these trips back in time we see Thatcher mature from a young girl working in her father’s grocery store, her courtship with Denis, her election to parliament, and eventually her becoming the Prime Minister and each time she returns to the present Denis’s shade is there to comfort her. Only it isn’t really comfort that Denis is providing anymore. His presence causes her to second guess her life’s choices which propels her back into the past to reexamine her decisions.
The Iron Lady is a heartbreaking vision of age, nostalgia, regret and loss. During the first half of the film Phyllida Lloyd doesn’t put a foot wrong. She weaves the strands of the story together perfectly blending reality and surreality and repeating certain motifs to build a compelling emotional portrait of Margaret Thatcher. As Thatcher’s career ascends the story becomes a more standard rise to power and inevitable fall yarn, but Lloyd pulls it all back together by the end of the movie.
The movie is a beautifully put together film. The cast is incredible, Streep and Broadbent are sublime but all of the performances are spot one. Alexandra Roach an Harry Lloyd who play the young Margaret and Denis are particularly good considering that in effect they are not only playing real people but have to provide performances that mesh flawlessly with Streep and Broadbent’s performances. The sets do a wonderful job of really making you feel like you are either in the fifties, seventies, eighties or contemporary London and the score and incidental movie complement the movie perfectly.
The video is presented in 1080p with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio and it looks fantastic. The amount of detail is amazing and the colors are deep and rich. I never noticed any aliasing, moire or any other digital artifacts.
The audio is presented in English in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. There are English and Spanish subtitles. The dialog, foley and score are always well mixed the one never stepping on the other.
The Packaging and Bonus Features:
The Blu-ray disc comes in a standard blue tinted Blu-ray case. There is also a DVD and Digital copy supplied. The artwork is restrained and suitably tasteful. The menus are attractive and easy to navigate. There are a number of featurettes which are perhaps a mite short but they are definitely worth taking a look at. Some kind of audio commentary would have been a nice addition.
Overall (not an average) 9/10
I must admit I was leery of this film. Thatcher has always been a hero of mine and I was afraid of how a conservative icon would be treated, but I found The Iron Lady’s Margaret Thatcher to be a sympathetic character. Of course it’s entirely possible that the film is neutral enough that it simply reflects back the viewers own prejudices, which is usually a good sign.
The Movie: 9/10
The Video: 9/10
The Audio: 9/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features: 7/10
Overall (not an average) 9/10
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art: John Romita Jr.
Yes friends it’s that time again, time for a Marvel big summer event. These big events are generally either hated or loved; there’s very little in between. Summer story arcs can be fun if they are well executed, but that can be said about most things….
So the Phoenix Force is back to wreak some more havoc in the Marvel U. If you’re unfamiliar with the Phoenix Force then you aren’t much of a fan of the X-Men. This force of nature destroys lives and everything else in its path when it visits Earth. When it visits Earth it takes on a human host, most notably Jean Grey, Cyclops’ wife. Grey was overtaken by evil and ended up dying. The story of the Phoenix has been told over and over and reinvented a bit since that original epic story but the core of it is the same. Now the force is hurtling toward Earth again and it appears that Hope Summers, a young member of the X-Men will be the new host. This is all happening after the near destruction of the mutants as a race. Cyclops believes that the return of the Phoenix may represent the rebirth of the mutant race and that it is his responsibility to train Hope and prepare her to deal with this powerful force when she becomes it’s host.
Of course Captain America and the Avengers simply see that this powerful entity is murderous and destructive. So he and SHIELD believe that Hope should be taken into protective custody. The heroes have already taken one hit and the force is still far from earth. The entire comic is really leading up to a meeting between Captain America and Cyclops, the leaders of the two teams. My bias toward the Avengers may be at play here but as I read the two heroes’ exchanges and really all of Cyclop’s appearances in the comic I couldn’t help but feel like the leader of the X-Men came off like a total dick. That may seem blunt but it’s truly how he came off. That feeling may level off as the story is expanded and the reasons for Cyclops beliefs are revealed. This first installment leads us to believe that Cyclops is willing to sacrifice much destruction and possibly death in order to see the Phoenix Force return. He “says” that he can train Hope to “be ready” for the force. What does that mean, to be ready?
The first issue does a couple of things right; it builds tension between the two hero leaders, and it ends with a powerfully epic vibe. While I think the story needs more filling in it was an exciting read, especially having read issue #0 and digital Infinite issue #1 tie-ins. This should be a fun summer.
John Romita Jr. is one of the best artists in the industry and he proves it in this issue once again. Character designs look great and the detail is consistent throughout the issue. Romita walks the line between the modern cinematic art that’s common in Marvel books and the classic comic book stylings of his father. It’s a great line to walk and he does it perfectly here. Colors are bright and shading adds a level of depth that suits Romita’s style well.
For a starter issue this one sets the stage properly. It’s tense, it’s epic, and it’s full of questions. The main story does need a bit of development but I think that will help in upcoming installments.
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10
The Story 7.5/10
The Art 9/10
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10
This week’s episode was recorded live at the Middle Tennessee Anime Convention in Nashville, TN! We give away tons of prizes, talk lots of comics, movies TV and much more!
Directed by: Alexander Payne
Starring: George Clooney
Here’s one of George Clooney’s pet projects that got a lot of award time buzz. It won some Golden Globes but was mostly shut out at the Oscars. Often these sorts of films get way more praise and attention than they deserve and sometimes, once in a while, they actually deserve the attention they get.
George Clooney plays the husband in a marriage in disarray. He finds himself shaken awake when his wife ends up in a coma, and essentially on her death bed, after a boating accident. The story follows him on a journey to learn the truth about his wife and reconnect with his children. His wife it appears was having an affair and Clooney and his daughter decide to confront the home wrecking husband. Does this sound like a Lifetime Network movie? Well, yes it does, and for the majority of the film it feels like an expensively made Lifetime film. It’s set, and shot in Hawaii which of course takes the production value of the film up quite a bit.
There’s a secondary story about Clooney holding the majority control of a large parcel of land in Hawaii and the conflict he goes through with his family who are split on what to do with the property. Some of the family, most of them actually, want to sell the property and retire while Clooney is more conflicted about that. Selling would uproot a lot of the natives that live there and turn the beautiful land into a resort. This story had the potential to really offer up a quirky feel to the movie and make the overall experience more unique. There are a few splashes of that quirkiness and just when you feel the movie is going to commit to that sort of environment the director dials it all back to a paint by numbers Life time formula. This film desperately needed a shot of Wes Anderson to make it special.
Clooney is a great actor and he makes you want to see what will happen with his character but not even his on screen charisma is enough to make this film interesting. Along with Clooney there are a scant few of those previously mentioned quirky scenes and a great last shot of the film leading to closing credits. All of this just doesn’t add up to a film that deserved all of the attention it received during its theatrical run. I say this having seen the film twice now, once in the theater and a second time now on blu-ray. The whole time I watched, both times, I just kept thinking wow this could have been a good movie.
The 1080p presentation looks great. The colorful shirts and one or two good shots of Hawaii come through with all of the vibrancy and detail that you could hope for. Overall this film just isn’t a visual feast like you’d think it would be but what’s here looks great on this blu-ray. When we’re on the beach or getting to see the landscapes the presentation is gorgeous.
This is a pretty talky film so there isn’t a lot of opportunity for the soundscape to really show off. The best thing I can say is that the dialogue, which is at the center of a film like this one, comes through crisp, clean, loud and clear. There are a few instances where the audio gets the opportunity to come to life and when it does the 5.1 mix doesn’t disappoint with a nice dynamic range and surprising immersion.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
Featuring George Clooney on the cover of the blu-ray isn’t much of a ballsy marketing decision but at least it’s not one of those magical floating head affairs. The cover art is just sort of meh, kind of like the film itself.
There are a few featurettes on this disc that offer some background on the film but overall they come off like a mix of marketing speak and backslapping. One of the featurettes is even called “Everybody Loves George”! Come on this film did get an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay so it deserves one or two decent documentaries. There are some HD/blu-ray exclusive supplements that are a little more interesting than the standard ones available on the blu-ray and DVD. There’s a short featurette with a real Hawaiian descendant discussing how he remains true to his heritage and maintains his piece of the island. There’s also a sort video with the director and Clooney discussing the film and film in general. This feature is one of the best on the disc and it feels edited down. There are also deleted scenes, several music videos, trailers, and shorts about filming on water and waiting for magic hour that are HD exclusives too.
Some people will love The Descendants. If you’re a fan of Lifetime films than this is one of the best of that style of film ever made. The script is fine, the acting is top notch, but it needed a shot of uniqueness to make it a theatrical experience.
Overall (Not an Average) 6/10
The Movie 4/10
The Video 8.5/10
The Audio 8/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 6/10
Overall (Not an Average) 6/10
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Opinions vary on “motion comics”. Some people love the enhanced experience of looking at comics with motion and voice acting. Others believe it’s a throwback to the old Marvel short minimal motion shows from the 60’s. Still every time I see one of these motion comics I hear the lyrics “Captain America throws his might shield…”
I’ve “read” several motion comics including Spider Woman, Iron Man, and Invincible. I read or watched them if you will on my iPad and cell phone. These stories worked well on these portable devices because they aren’t quite television shows and aren’t quite comics just like cell phones aren’t quite televisions and aren’t quite cell phones in the classic sense of the term. A screen might be too small to read a comic but I could certainly watch these limited videos. The question is do they hold up on a big HDTV while viewers sit on a sofa?
So this motion comic is based on Joss Whedon’s run on the comic book of the same title. Based on really isn’t the proper description though; this is the exact comic brought to life, well kind of to life. Often on the screen only one tiny element moves, sometimes just a mouth. Other times there’s not as much actual movement as there is a still image simply sliding across the screen. It’s all done dynamically though and it feels more energetic than it really is.
In case you don’t know in the comics the X-Men have a computer controlled gym for honing their abilities. The room can be set to a fairly dangerous level of training. At some point circumstances allowed the room become sentient, a living being. That living being is pissed off too. The story is odd and definitely convoluted, kind of messy in general. It was tough to stick with reading the comic and it’s still a little tough in viewing the motion comic. There are many better stories that could have been plucked from the X-Men universe but this story was obviously picked because it was written by Joss Whedon (the man behind the upcoming big budget Avengers movie).
It’s an imperfect story for sure but the X-Men are well characterized by Whedon and some of the writers classic dialogue is in full effect here. The action is often exciting too. This is definitely for comic book fans rather than fans of the X-Men movies. These characters aren’t the ones from the movie. They are in fact different and those that don’t read the comics will be confused. To answer my own question this motion comic isn’t really meant for HDTV couch potato viewing, especially since the experience is still broken into tiny internet friendly episodes. Were the entire thing combined into one longer film it might have played a little better. X-Men and comic book completists will still enjoy the best parts of this though.
Since this DVD is built from digital content it looks pretty good on the big screen. The issues with it are mostly the same as they were when the experience moved from paper to video. The paper comic doesn’t feature the deepest most detailed backgrounds because the comic book panel is a pretty small piece of real estate so there’s simply not much space for that level of detail. On the big screen some of the low detail backgrounds can look pretty terrible. The colors are solid and bright and the detailed areas do look quite good.
The Dolby audio is very basic here and so is the audio from the source. There’s dialogue, some music, and some basic sound fx. The fx are a little muffled by the dialogue is clean throughout. Everything is stuffed tightly into the center channel of the soundstage though.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The single DVD is packaged in an extremely slim clear amaray case. The artwork from the comic series is pretty good, fairly cinematic at its best, and the cover art here is taken from the comics. There are absolutely no bonus features. Why put this out with no bonus features?
Astonishing X-Men Dangerous is a gift for comic book fans nothing more. This is a new medium and a new experience that’s sure to find its way as it evolves.
Overall (Not an Average) 5/10
The Movie 6.5/10
The Video 7/10
The Audio 5/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 2/10
Overall (Not an average) 5/10