Friday, December 12, 2014

Matt’s Ten Favorite Action Movies (at this moment)

    While talking about Die Hard on the ITMODcast, Brad challenged me to come up with my top five action movie list.  I thought I’d expand that, and list ten of my favorite action movies.   I’d certainly say that Die Hard is awesome, and totally deserves a spot on the list.  But as I realized while watching it last week at the Alamo Drafthouse, I have very little experience with it; it’s not a film I’ve ‘lived’ with like some of these.  Of course, like any of these lists I make, the order (and even the inclusion) of films is subject to change depending on the day and my mood.

10.  The Matrix:  Its massive popularity and the disappointment with the sequels have probably combined to create a backlash against the movie.  But I still love it.  To say the very least, it was a game changer.  Though if that change was good or bad may still be up for debate.  I love the culmination of so many cyberpunk concepts into a kung-fu filled, effects laden action adventure.

9.  Desperado:  Here’s a movie that I had NO interest in ever seeing.  The trailers made it look like some pseudo-Brad Pitt romance with a bit of action thrown in.  No thank you.  But then a friend told me to put my preconceptions aside and give it a try.  The movie started up, Steve Buscemi starts telling his story of the ‘biggest Mexican’ he’d ever seen, and I was hooked.  Way over the top violence, lots of bent humor, and a sense of wild excitement.  It’s so danged much fun.

8.  Conan the Barbarian:  Not surprisingly, I have a couple Arnold movies on this list.  This is probably my favorite fantasy genre film, featuring some of my favorite scenes.  The final battle, in spite of only featuring a relative handful of horsemen, is one of the most epic things I’ve ever seen.  And the music.  Oh, the music.

7.  Fist of Legend:  No wire work, no crazy effects.  Just fists flying at mind blowing speed.  The movie that taught me Kung Fu flicks could be more than just bad dubbing and unintentional fun.  Jet Li was a revelation, the movie had surprising heart and soul, and the action is top notch.

6.  Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon:  A sweeping, martial arts period piece with some of the of the most pulse-pounding kung-fu I’ve ever seen.  Gorgeously shot, marvelously staged, and lushly crafted.  It’s not only an amazing action movie, it’s an amazing movie.

5.  Aliens:  Alien is one of the all time great horror films.  Aliens is one of the all time great action films.  Gone is the haunted house stalking, replaced by hoards of bugs eating a colorful team of wisecracking Colonial Marines.  This is, to my thinking, the peak of James Cameron.  He never even came close again.  But what a peak.  For all his bloated, soulless, time-sucks that came later, this movie remains a masterwork; untarnished.

4.  Escape from New York:  In the 80s, there was one thing people were pretty darned sure about, and that’s that the world was going to go right down the tubes.  This look forward into the corrupt police state of America circa 1997 is darned cool.  Snake is the Clint Eastwood channeling hero who goes into the prison world of New York City, where he has to save the President from the clutches of The Duke.  Lots of great supporting roles and a cool atmosphere make this one a classic.

3.  Commando:  Yup.  My fourth favorite movie of all time.  Yeah.  That’s right.  Obviously, the script is the strength of the film, but Arnold pounds the living crap out of a bunch of people, then cuts and shoots apart the entire army of an evil dictator all by himself, and all for the love of his daughter.  Let off some steam, don’t disturb my friend, and if you’re lucky, I’ll kill you last.

2.  Raiders of the Lost Ark:  Thrilling heroics and retro-fueled adventure are the name of the game in this, one of my all time favorite films (# 10, in fact) and one of my great cinematic influences (# 1 on that list).  Fistfights, foot chases, and that awesome truck fight.  It’s all the cliffhanger excitement of classic film crammed into one beautiful package.  Cool characters, cool story, and beautifully shot.  One of the greats.

1.  The Road Warrior: I’m a fan of the whole series, to be honest.  Yeah, I even like Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.  Actually, I love it.  But The Road Warrior (aka Mad Max 2) is a straight-up amazing film.  It’s gut punchingly savage, dark, depressing, and exciting as all heck.  The iconic final chase is a thing of beauty (so much so that they felt the need to directly lift it in Beyond Thunderdome), but the movie features several cool action scenes, not to mention a beautifully presented apocalyptic world, populated by interesting characters.  Like the best movies, I felt like it took pace within a much larger world.  While we’re watching the story of Max, I have no doubt that over the next hill, equally dramatic lives are being lived and snuffed out.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Comic Review: The Chimera Brigade Book One

    Regular readers will know that I love the pulps, and a lot of pulp inspired stuff.  Movies like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and Raiders of the Lost Ark; comics like The Rocketeer and Hellboy; and of course adaptations of the originals, like Doc Savage, The Shadow, and the like.  I also enjoy a good referential, alternate history story, like League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.  So, The Chimera Brigade is right up my alley.   Set in an alternate 1938, where Europe was profoundly changed by the arrival of what seem to be superheroes and villains after the Great War.  Across the Continent, forces are gathering, spies are spying, and trouble is brewing.

    Though the book in no way feels like League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, that is the most obvious reference when comparing it to something else.  But instead of characters out of Victorian adventure novels, it features a different array of references (from Zamyatin’s We to Orwell’s Big Brother to Meyrink’s Golem), and a very different plot.  I like the setting a lot and am very curious where the plot is going to take the various characters that have been introduced.  The art isn’t amazing, but it’s not bad.  Though not as good, in my opinion, it often reminds me of Mignola’s work on Hellboy.

    Doing a quick bit of research, I found that this is the first of six volumes.  I’m glad that it’s a story that has been completed.  But not I’ve got to wait for it to get translated from the French and published Stateside, which sadly, might take a while.  Because it is only the first of six volumes, this serves primarily as an introduction to the world and to the players, with only hints at the overall story.  It has my attention; hopefully it can hold on to it for however long it takes to get the whole thing out.

The Chimera Brigade: Book One
Authors: Serge Lehman & Fabrice Colin
Artist: Gess
Publisher: Titan Comics
ISBN: 978-1-782-76099-3


Comic Review: Concrete Park

    I hadn’t heard about this comic before I saw it on the shelf and it piqued my interest.  An inexpensive hardcover about a bunch of street gangers and disenfranchised shipped off to a colony world?  I’m in.  The book is written by a husband and wife team, Tony Puryear and Erika Alexander (both are Hollywood veterans, Puryear a writer, Alexander an actress, which normally makes me wary of 'stunt casting' creative teams).  And I gather the original run appeared in the resurrected Dark Horse Presents.  This gives the book a somewhat choppy feel, covering some bases multiple times to keep anyone who hadn’t caught the previous installment up to date.

    Getting past some of the wonky issues caused by its original presentation, I do like the comic.  I enjoy the setting, which blends the gritty, ugly, crime filled streets of 80s L.A. with the harsh, near prison-like conditions of a colony world.  It’s very cyberpunk, which of course, I dig.  And there’s a lot of world building, including a lot of slang (with a helpful glossary in the back).

    The characters have potential to be interesting, but sadly, the volume is quite short.  And that leads me to my main complaint.  The combination of the Dark Horse Presents short story format and the very briefness of the volume make it all feel extremely introductory.  I wanted more time with the characters and the setting.  I wanted more time to find out what the overall story is going to be.  I gather there is a second arc coming out on its own (not in Dark Horse Presents).  So hopefully, that will have more story/character content.  And of course, I should mention the art.  I have to admit, I’m not in love with it.  It has an intensity that I like, but it feels very, very digital, and I guess I don’t respond to that as much.  But the art certainly isn’t awful, and it doesn’t take away from the story.  So, here’s hoping things will improve and grow with the comic.  I’m plenty curious enough to see what’s next.

Concrete Park Vol. 1: You Send Me
Authors: Tony Puryear & Erika Alexander
Artist: Tony Puryear
Publisher: Dark Horse Books
ISBN: 978-1-61655-530-6


Saturday, December 6, 2014


If you've enjoyed our posts over the years, please join Brad and I, and our co-Dork Darren for ITMODcast, our new podcast (click here or search ITMODcast on iTunes).  We discuss many of the same topics you've seen here, but we hope to grow and of course, to surprise and delight (I always hope to surprise and delight).


Stop what you're doing!

The following is a public service announcement...

See Manborg right now.  Stop reading this post and go rent/view/whatever the film.  If, like us at In the Mouth of Dorkness, you enjoy the wonderfully mad world of film, especially 'so bad they're good' films of the 80s, this is a wonderful callback.  It reminds me a bit of Hobo With a Shotgun, which also managed to update, and express its love for a time and style.  It's like Land of the Lost and Lexx got in a time-traveling blender and came out in a video rental shop in 1986.  If that sounds as amazing as it should, see the film!


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Just Juice Him!

It's also been a long dang time since we've said much about blog favorite Jason Statham.  Obviously, this is in part because he hasn't done a particularly good movie in five years (OK, I love the first two Expendables movies, but come on...Crank 2 is his last masterwork).  Here's hoping he and The Rock have some seriously awesome screentime (baby oiled battle royale).  But seriously, we love this guy.  He's just been making it difficult lately.  However, if Rosario Dawson proves anything, we're willing to wait...years if continue loving him.  In the Mouth of Dorkness is all about love and forgiveness for cinema sins.  Except you, Robert Rodriguez.  You've really dropped the ball, sir.  Oh, I kid.  We'd forgive you, too; if you ever make a good movie again.  Anyway.  Statham.  Be badass again.  We've missed you.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Black Belt in Barstools

It seems like an unconscionably long time since we've mentioned Pam Grier here.  So, in the interests of public health, I recommend our readers consume 2 to 4 Pam Grier films in the next few days.  Foxy Brown, The Arena, Jackie Brown, Friday Foster, Greased Lightning... It's up to you.  Just do it.  You'll feel better.  I'll feel better.  It's just a good idea.