Thursday, June 30, 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon Movie Review

We've all heard the complaints: too much stupid humor, too much military fanboyism, too much blurry robotic chaos masquerading as 'fights' and too little screen time for the robots the movie was named after.

People of the world, Michael Bay has heard your cries. And his answer is Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

Let me get this out of the way first: Transformers: Dark of the Moon is awesome. Crazy, I know. After the horrible, horrible Revenge of the Fallen, the bar has been set pretty darn low for Transformers at this point. But Dark of the Moon not only snaps the bar in half, but it gives each pointy end to an Autobot and Decepticon and tells them to fight to the death with it.

Let's break it down: the first half of the movie deals with a conspiracy involving an alien ship crash-landing on the dark side of the moon in the 1960's. Turns out the ship was from Cybertron, and it holds the key to turning the tide of war between the Autobots and Decepticons on earth. The second half is what you pay to see, as the Decepticons wage all-out war against the human race!

Dark of the Moon feels like two different movies rolled into one. One is the first Transformers movie done right, the second is an apocalyptic wasteland in the vein of Terminator: Salvation. Michael Bay is usually faulted with a total lack of focus and tact in his films, but surprisingly he manages to tone down the toilet humor, the unlikeable parents and the unnecessary explosions, to ramp up the things that mattered most, namely, the Transformers themselves.

The human bits of the movie are bearable this time around. Rosie Huntington-Whitely's was pretty hot, and her British accent was easier on the ears. Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBouf) isn't such a dweeb now, and is actually useful. John Torturro's Simmons is still a delight, and the new characters come in, do what they have to do, and move on. If you're into robot violence instead, you'll get your fill here. Not only that, if you're a Transformers fan from way back (like, Generation 1 back), you'd enjoy some of the nods here and there. The space bridge, Shockwave, robot war ravaging's like I'm watching 'The Ultimate Doom' in live action!

Speaking of action...the movie has loads of it. Bay seems to have perfected the art of robot war after two films. The action is more fluid now, the robots easier to pick out from the mess of metal shards they call bodies. Not only that, Bay knows how to sell each and every fight scene. At one point, Optimus swoops down on a group of Decepticons and just tears everybody apart, while a heroic orchestra piece underscores how mind-blowingly awesome the scene is. Don't be scared when you find yourself unconsciously pumping a fist in the air every time OP comes onscreen.

There are some disappointing parts of note. The alien conspiracy was needlessly complicated (You could have cut out some parts and scenes and it wouldn't have changed a thing). Shockwave was more or less an extended cameo, having nothing to do but be a mini-boss for the Autobots to practice on. And for those with a soft spot for Optimus Prime, it might be jarring for you to see him execute his enemies Mafia style. Bay has turned Optimus into a grizzled war veteran, who despite wanting peace, cannot escape the horrors of war.

It's a good thing then that the good parts outweigh all the bad. Transformers: Dark of the Moon is more or less what you'd expect from a Michael Bay Transformers movie, 2 films later. All the criticisms have been addressed and decimated, and you rest easy knowing at the very least, the Transformers movie franchise ended on a high, flashy, loud, explosive and entertaining note.

Friday, June 24, 2011

My Week in Comics: Suicide Girls #3

Is it too soon to call the latest SuicideGirls issue 'meaty'? Because it totally is.

Amid the full frontal flashes and badass women kicking cyborg ass all over, we're finally getting somewhere in SuicideGirls #3. The girls are knee-deep in trouble as one of their own gets captured by the Way of Life Corporation, not to mention there's a traitor in their midst. But the worst is yet to come, as the girls discover that Way of Life is planning something so sinister it could change the way people think...literally!

Let me get this out of the way first: topless girls, topless girls everywhere. With the Suicide Girls spending most of their time half-naked in this issue, the amount of fanservice jumped 200% compared to the last two issues. But then again, we're talking about a comic book based on an alt-pr0n site filled with naked tattooed women here. It's par for the course.

The funny thing is, you still notice the plot unfold. You still notice the little character quirks Steve Niles and Brea Grant squeeze in here and there. You still notice the dynamic action scenes and the tense exchanges. There just happen to be bare breasts in them. That takes a heck of a lot of work, but the creative team manages to not only be interesting amidst all that nudity, but to be fun as well.

Speaking of fun, David Hahn seems to be having just that with this ish. He gives these girls so much character its crazy awesome. Porter (the double pony-tailed bespectacled geek) in particular is so much fun to see and read, and has become my favorite out of the bunch. Glasses + ponytails = win. Not to mention the gorgeous, gorgeous Cameron Stewart pinups at the back. Oh my.

SuicideGirls #3 is just as fun as the last two issues, if not more. It's starting to get crazy interesting, and it can only get crazier from here. This is a 4 out of 5.

Can't get enough of The Geek's reviews? Head on over to The Outhousers, where a review of Zatanna #14 awaits. Get back on the horse, Dini, and finish this before the big DC reboot!

It's a good week in comics for me! Got any cool comics this week? Got something else to say about my picks? Leave me a comment below and let's talk about it! Thanks for reading!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Green Lantern Movie Review

You could say a lot of things about DC’s latest comic movie Green Lantern, but never say that it lacked ambition.

Green Lantern is an ambitious film, an attempt to bring to the big screen the sweeping space saga established by years of Green Lantern comics. It’s got everything you could ever want in a GL movie.

And that’s exactly what’s wrong with it.

The movie is crammed to the gills with plot points, history and Green Lantern's mythology, each of them whizzing past your head so fast just to make room for more. The movie tries it's best to make us care for a character like Green Lantern, a not so easy task given just how vast his continuity is recently. At least they give us the basics: Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) is a cocky test pilot, who's reckless and fearless antics grate the nerves of his friend and former flame Carol Ferris (Blake Lively). But all that will soon change when Hal is chosen to become a member of the intergalactic peace corps known as the Green Lanterns!

An average movie’s running time wasn’t designed to contain all of this information in one sitting, but director Martin Campbell seemed to take that as a challenge. At one point, Hal ponders on the responsibilities of having a power ring in one scene, only to cut to Green Lantern bursting into a lab where supervillain Hector Hammond (played with batshit craziness by Peter Sarsgaard) is raising hell, with no lead in whatsoever!

The result is an unfocused story that tried to do too many things at once, losing sight of what’s important and what’s not. Hal’s training scene in Oa was awfully short, but the romantic bar scene between him and Carol Ferris dragged on for so long. The Hector Hammond character was ultimately pointless. Big bad Parallax could have benefited from some focus, building him up into a credible threat instead of leaving his supposed threat level at the mercy of hearsay and exposition. One wonders why they chose to cram all that inside a criminally-short 105-minute running time.

Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan /Green Lantern is likeable enough, with just enough charisma and abs to get the girls swooning and enough superhero swaggering to leave comic fans like me satisfied. Blake Lively is an improvement from all the dull female leads we’ve had so far. The few Green Lantern members who were shown, let alone named (like Mark Strong’s Sinestro), do their parts well. Everyone else is forgettable, to no fault of their own.

The only bright light in Hal’s lantern is the action. This movie’s got more superheroing than most of even Marvel’s offerings thus far. Green Lantern’s powers lent to some pretty creative action scenes, made more fun by the serviceable CGI. The climactic final battle is pretty epic, establishing just how big and powerful a hero Green Lantern is. Too bad the film couldn’t live up to his example.

The thing is, Green Lantern didn’t have to be this mediocre. Green Lantern is practically bursting with fantastic imagery and concepts, and it deserved a better movie than this. The superhero/Green Lantern fan might find something to like here, the rest will will have to look elsewhere for a movie that makes sense.

Monday, June 13, 2011

When Charles Met Erik: A Bro's Tale

How did total enemies start out as total bros?

The X-Men: First Class movie already gave us a taste of what a Professor X-Magneto brofest is like. But to get a bit of geek cred, it pays to know where it all began. So are you ready to know how two of the most polarizing figures in mutantdom start out as friends?

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon Cyberverse Ironhide Review

Ever had a toy surprise you? A toy that didn't look like much at first glance. It may have been different, smaller than you'd like, or not enough doohickeys connected to it. But once you got it on hand and played around with it? Bam. You're hooked.

Welcome to the story of me and Cyberverse Commander Ironhide.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

X-Men: First Class Movie Review

Don't call it a comeback!

At the onset, I was concerned with X-men: First Class. Because, well, the team here isn't the first class. The first class was Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Angel and Iceman. As a comic book fanboy I'm protective like that. But color me surprised, I actually warmed up to this not-so-First Class a lot. With the story they wanted to tell, the original 5 X-Men would not have worked, so I'd rather let them mess this up with these guys than mess up the originals.

But in a way, they *gasp* didn't mess up! X-Men: First Class is first and foremost a story of friendship. Particularly, the friendship of Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender). Charles' brilliant mind is surpassed only by his vast telepathic powers. Erik is a tortured Holocaust survivor with the power to control metal. Together they form a bond that will change them forever. But when a sinister force threatens to ignite a nuclear war between the US and Russia, their beliefs, along with a young team of newly-discovered mutants, will be put to the test.

The first thing I noticed (and loved) about X-Men: First Class is that it's a very visual film, which helped sell the different mutant powers shown in this movie. From Charles' subtle touches to the temple to the 'mind's eye view' of telepathy to Banshee's sonic screams, the visual cues paint a picture of how mutant powers work for the uninformed layman, and it's a very nice touch.

The story worked for this comic book fan, no complaints here. X-Men: First Class was more or less Charles and Eric's story, and their journey to becoming Professor X and Magneto, respectively. The film is an intimate look into what made these people, these future polarizing leaders of homo superior, who they are today, and it's such an interesting ride that you could just sit back and enjoy it.

The cast did what it needed to do. Kevin Bacon seemed to enjoy playing a scary powerful Sebastian Shaw. Jennifer Lawrence gave us an interesting portrayal of Mystique, a blue-skinned shapeshifter searching for love and acceptance in all the wrong places. The movie's gem, though, is Michael Fassbender, who pulls off a tormented Erik Lensherr/Magneto so well that you feel for his plight and what he's been through. So much so, that when he finally claims his birthright as Magneto, it's a moment you just won't forget. The biggest disappointment is January Jones, who could have done an iconic take on the sexy bitch telepath Emma Frost, but instead turned in such a wooden, unsexy performance it made Keanu Reeves in The Matrix seem animated and alive. It says something when a buxom blonde wearing nothing but lingerie made me fall asleep while watching.

The first 10 minutes of X-Men: First Class is a hokey, corny mess, but the rest of the movie is filled to the brim with cameos, easter eggs and powerful performances that proves the movie has the heart and soul that the first X-Men movie should have had in the first place. You will cry, you will rage, you will be awesome'd...if you can stomach the fact that this isn't the first class you grew up with, you might grow to like X-Men : First Class. I know I did

Oh, and whoever designed Magneto's final costume in the film should be fired.

Friday, June 03, 2011

My Week in Comics: June 3, 2011

Whaddaya know? It's another Friday, which means another helping of the most verbose comic reviews around! What did I get myself into this week? Read on to find out!

Three issues in, and Fear Itself is still shuffling its feet to get to wherever it needs to go. As Sin continues her blitzkrieg in USA, the Worthy finds a friend in Ben Grimm, who picks up a hammer and becomes a new Worthy. Also, Bucky Cap to the rescue!

The amount of disjointed scenes here rival those of Final Crisis, with Fear Itself #3 reading more like a collection of select scenes from other Fear Itself tie-ins than a coherent story. The only saving grace was a short but important scene involving Thor and Odin that promised a couple of new plot points for writer Matt Fraction to use. A high-profile yet totally unnecessary death sent everything good about this issue down the drain. A poor showing for a book that was slaved over by Stuart Immonen on art, who seems to get even better and better with each issue. His grandiose splash pages are nothing short of awesome.

With nothing to advance the story, and a death that just leaves a bad taste in the mouth, Fear Itself #3 is a waste of effort and money. This is a 1.5 out of 5.

Someone's selling X-23's trigger scent to the highest bidder in X-23 #11, and only the team of Gambit, Wolverine, Jubilee and X-23 can stop their dastardly plan!

I actually liked this issue, despite having little action, based on the strength of Marjorie Liu's character work. I loved the interactions between the characters here. Jubilee teaches Laura a thing or two about living it up despite being a (not so) soulless killing machine, and it makes for some very fun moments. Liu writes a very cute and spunky Jubilee, and it rubs off on X-23, who's just so goshdarn moe in this issue. Is this the start of a beautiful friendship? Let's just say a book by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda about X-23 and Jubilee doing girly stuff and spilling blood will be bought sight unseen.

Speaking of Sana Takeda, I'm loving that she's become a regular artist in this book. Her manga-style art is just a good fit for a character like X-23. Couple that with a brewing OTP in X-23 and Jubilee, and we've got ourselves a winning formula. This is a 5 out of 5. If you haven't been picking up X-23, buy this issue and the previous one and just roll with it. You'd be glad you did!

Can't get enough of The Geek's reviews? Head on over to The Outhousers, where I reviewed Fathom #0, the start of a fresh new chapter for Michael Turner's beloved creation! Wet and wild? You know it!

Fear Itself is Disappointment Itself, but at least X-23 x Jubilee is in the works, and all is right with the world! Agree? Disagree? What comics did you get this week? Drop a comment below and let's talk about it! Thanks for reading!
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