Monday, May 21, 2012

Brad's Week in Dork! (5/13/12-5/19/12)

So.  Not quite as an exciting week as last, but how could it possibly live up to my own special brand of Shat Attack V madness?  And there was no way I could keep up that pace of pop culture consumption.  But I kept the Star Trek love going this week finishing out the Next Generation movies and venturing back into the other Franchise spin-off shows.  In just a couple weeks The Wife and I will be in Philadelphia for the Wizard World Con, hobnobbing (ie shelling out cash for autographs) with the five Captains:  William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew, and Scott Bakula.

The Wife is more than a little familiar with the original series crew and the Next Generation, but before this week she had never seen an episode of Deep Space Nine, Voyager, or Enterprise.  Since all of Star Trekdom is available on Netflix Instant right now, we thought it would be fun to do a little homework in preparation for the Philly signing.  Started her out on the three spin off pilots and I watched The Best of Both Worlds eps as a springboard into First Contact.

But I guess the most exciting thing this week for me was the acquisition of the new Silver Surfer Parable hardcover from Marvel.  I've always wanted to get my hands on the Moebius series, but the two issue arc has been out of print for some time.  The book is paired with Stan Lee's mediocre Enslavers story, but it's worth the extra few bucks to finally have that gorgeous Moebius art in once place.  But more on that book later.


Hell On Wheels Eps 1-5:  I want to LOVE this show, but so far I think it's O...K.  The cast is definitely a solid assembly.  Anson Mount looks and behaves the part.  I've had a soft spot for Common since Smokin' Aces.  And it's great to see DS9's Colm Meaney playing the a-hole business baron.  But HBO's Deadwood casts a mighty large shadow, and for every nifty plot beat in Hell On Wheels I'm reminded of how amazing Deadwood handled this well worn genre.  I'm happy to watch this show, but it's not great.  And I want it to be great.  But, boy, The Swede sure is terrifying.

Star Trek Deep Space Nine "The Emissary" Parts 1 & 2:  After the Original Series and the movies, DS9 is my favorite Trek.  It's a darker universe and it only gets darker as the series progresses.  Sure, the first season is blanketed with obvious WWII, Civil War, Palestinian/Israel on-the-nose metaphors but the space station as Wild West outpost is such a fun setting to exploit, and even when the show reaches it's eye-rolling heights of condescension I'm completely persuaded by this group of characters.  Sure, Kira yells too damn much in the beginning and Sisko is far too harsh/serious/humorless.  But these characters will grow...and it's good enough until The Dominion shows up in the third season to kick it up a notch.

Star Trek Voyager "Caretaker" Parts 1 & 2:  Now, where I enjoy most if not all of the DS9 crew, I pretty much hate every single character in Voyager.  It remains the only Trek show I've never been able to complete, having watched through the first three seasons twice before...maybe with The Wife in tow I'll actually make it through this time.  But she also doesn't seemed to be enthralled by it either.  Now, I will say that I find Robert Picardo to be charming.  But how can you hate on the Joe Dante stalwart, right?  But this Caretaker nonsense?  And the Klingon pretenders, the Kazon?  Lame, lame, lame.

Star Trek Enterprise "Broken Bow" Parts 1 & 2:  Here's a show that never reached its potential.  It was almost there by the fourth season but then came cancellation.  Bummer.  Scott Bakula & Connor Trinneer have a great friendship on screen, and T'Pol is decent once that stick gets removed from her ass.  Even Dr. Phlox is kinda fun.  But Hoshi?  What an annoying whiney whelp.  And Merriwhether? Uh, is there a point to his gee golly blank slate?  No, there is not.  This show works best when it's exploring the new universe.  It's at its weakest when it's blathering on about the temporal cold ware bologna.  Frankly, I'm just biding my time until the fourth season...or when Jeffery Combs' Andorian pops up.

Star Trek The Next Generation "The Best of Both Worlds" Parts 1 & 2:  Two of the better episodes from The Next Generation.  The Borg are a great villain, and probably the best species to spring from Star Trek post TOS.  Unfortunately, this is the last time (not counting First Contact) where they matter at all.  Cuz once "I Borg" occurs, these monsters are neutered.  But The Best of Both Worlds is about as epic as the television shows ever got.  I still remember the first time I saw it on TV, Picard captured & transformed into a robo zombie.  At the time, I found his whole ordeal to be incredibly upsetting.  And Riker having to battle it out with Shelby as they race to Wolf 359?  It's still pretty intense.  If I had any complaints about the show now it would be that it it wraps everything up too quickly and neatly during the climax.  I wish the mental scarring left behind by Locutus was explored further in the show, rather than waiting for the theatrical experience.  But this was pre LOST, pre Battlestar Galactica and Trek was never allowed that kind of serialized growth.


Star Trek - First Contact:  Not the satisfying Trek sequel I once thought it to be, it's still definitely the best of the Next Gen movies. I wish First Contact took a little more time building the plot and characters before launching into the first Borg Space Battle and the eventual Time Traveling zombie war spearheaded by Alice Krige's floating fleshy halfling. It's nice that Data is less the goofy comic relief as he is in the other Next Gen films, but they should have totally Spocked him at the climax.  As Matt says, this is The Wrath of Khan of Next Gen and it's a fun action film with plenty of Patrick Stewart tommy gun screaming.  Fun, but I will never connect with this crew the way I connect with Kirk, Spock, and Bones.

Exit Through The Gift Shop:  Whether it's bullshit or not, this is a fascinating look into the world of street art and the birth of fanboy wannabe Mister Brainwash. I've never quite understood modern art cuz of my dumb brain but who doesn't love a talking heads documentary, especially one that might be as accurate as Kung Fu Panda. It's definitely entertaining and awkward and I feel for Thierry Guetta's love affair with graffiti artists like Bansky...that is until he starts raking in the dough with his pretender's art show.  But why do I feel so damn manipulated a narrative?  Is this just more Bansky protest art?  Fascinating and I definitely feel 10 x more hipstery once the credits appeared.

Doble Dare:  A solid doc focusing on a couple of female stuntwomen attempting to keep their foothold in the Hollywood machine. Zoe Bell leaves the finale of Xena Warrior Princess and heads into the dreams of Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill. Seasoned professional Jeannie Epper (Wonder Woman, Robocop, Foxy Brown, Romancing the Stone, EVERY MOVIE EVER!) struggles with the business side while still putting her body in harms way for 2 Fast 2 Furious. I wish the film dove even deeper into this mad world of bodily devastation in which a good portion of your favorite films are actually performed by these faceless warriors, but as is, it's a nice glimpse behind the curtain.

The Avengers:  Celebrated a late Mother's Day with The Avengers, and I was quite pleased to see Mom enjoy the film almost as much as I did.  But has the high faded now that I've seen the film four times? Oh, in some respects a high as strong as the one I experienced after the midnight screening was destined to evaporate a little...but! I'm still amazed and in love with Marvel's blockbuster miracle. The chills are still there when Iron Man, Cap, and Thor clash in the woods or when Hulk declares his secret or when Nick Fury goes for that bazooka. And yeah, it's still my favorite film of 2012 so far.  But a word of warning, we plopped down the extra cash for the 3D and I think it's some of the worst post-converted 3D I've experienced.  Unbearably dark and ineffective.  Stay away from the unnecessary high prices, save those bucks for Piranha 3DD.

Freakonomics:  This might have been a little more informative and thought provoking than my typical T&A heavy exploitation, but it's definitely better than reading a book, right?   I finished this film knowing not to trust my realtor or give a damn about cannon fodder 9th graders not interested in bettering their GPAs....was that the point? Probably not. We all just need to find the right incentives to make this world a better place. Good luck.

Star Trek - Insurrection:  Huh, do I now actually prefer Insurrection to First Contact? Damn. I think so. The plot is very much just an extended episode of The Next Generation with Picard & Crew butting in where they're not welcomed after Data short circuits on a mysterious rejuvenating planet.  The film is filled with much wanted character moments for the cast, and since the story is a little more fluffy the interrupting humor (especially the Data jokes) are less infuriating. And Jonathan Frakes finally gets to command the Enterprise and kick a little ass...uh, the joystick controls though, WTF?  But it's 'bout bloody time Riker got in on the action.  Insurrection might not be the cinematic epic we've come to crave from the series, but it's a solid story told better than the other attempted grandiose Next Gen episodes. And it's nice to see some of that DS9 pessimism in the form of Anthony Zerbe's corrupt Federation Admiral.

Star Trek - Nemesis:  "I'm a mirror for you as well." There might be a few interesting ideas at play here in the final outing for The Next Generation crew, but the execution from both screenwriter John Logan and director Stuart Baird is handled horribly. Maybe all the blame should not be placed at their feet, it's obvious that Paramount slashed the budget again with some of the weakest CG of the franchise, but there are so many eye-rolling groans birthed from this narrative that it genuinely taints this crews previous adventures.  From the introduction of the halfwit android B4 (giving Brent Spiner more awkward laughs) to the over-reaching pursed lipped performance from Tom Hardy to the wasted Nosferatu wannabe Remans. It's all swing, no hits with Nemesis.

Star Trek:  In a lot of ways, my reaction to the 2009 Star Trek was very similar to my reaction to this year's The Avengers. How did they make that work!?!? And the fact that it's so bloody good is a genuine geek miracle! JJ Abrams and his crew of Star Wars fanboys bring their action oriented sensibilities to the Star Trek universe and breathe some much needed life into the rigor-mortised franchise (again, Nemesis...sigh). Yes, this will never own my heart in the same manner as the original series crew, but Christ Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Karl Urban shockingly capture their spirit. Plus, the epic space battles involving the USS Enterprise and the climactic phaser fight in the haul of the Borgged Narada is something we've never seen before in Trek. So give it a rest if you want to whine about lens flares or split hairs over alternative universes. This is a Star Trek film I never thought would bless us, a nearly 200 million dollar human adventure that raises the stakes in a universe that had grown pretty cold after Next Gen tried their best.


Silver Surfer - Parable:  "See Now What Such Blind Devotion Has Wrought!" Marvel patriarch Stan Lee and European Art Sensation Moebius team up for this insanely broad story that pits The Silver Surfer and his Power Cosmic against his former master, and current World-Eater, Galactus. Set in the near future, the destroyer of worlds lands in the middle of a nameless city but does not feed upon the masses...instead, the masses turn to Galactus as a new deity, and a new world religion springs around his colossal majesty. Only The Surfer, hiding in hobo rags, knows that Galactus's presence means only death, not salvation. Using the media, he must reveal this anti-God to the world but will the people of Earth simply listen or just offer more threats of violence. It's a ridiculous plot but incredibly enjoyable in that Stan Lee Excelsior kinda way. And I absolutely love Moebius' rendering of the Marvel Universe. It's a trip.

X-O Manowar #1:  Valiant Comics Is Back!  And I'm loving the weird 90s nostalgia that washes over my mind as I turn the pages of this delightful reboot.  It's too early to tell if this comic is going to be any good or not, but there's no denying the beauty of Cary Nord's art and I still dig the premise of 5th Century Visigoth Aric stealing the Manowar suit from spidery faced aliens who worship the armor as a holy relic.  Imagine Excalibur crossed with Iron Man and you've got no idea what this comic is really like.  Hopefully, the modern era of comic storytelling will elevate this series to neo classic heights...but that seems like fanboy dreaming to me.  Fingers crossed.

BPRD - The Devil's Engine #1:  Well, not much to the first issue.  Agent Devon & psychic Fenix are traveling via Train from Texas to the BPRD compound, but it's not going to be a simple ride with a countryside now overrun by all manner of monstrosities.  I'm still not won over to the Fenix character or Agent Devon for that matter, they've done a good job of making him an unlikable twit.  But the other half of this book deals with the Zinco corporation and the resurrection of "The Master."  That's where my interest is piqued.  Supernatural Nazis are surfacing...

Winter Soldier #5:  The first arc of Brubaker's series has come to a close.  It was decent.  Just a glimmer of his amazing Bucky Barnes run in Captain America.  Machine Gun Apes?  Good.  Dr. Doom 3rd Person speechifying?  Sigh.  But the sleeper assassin story could lead to some interesting places and I'll stick around for a little while.  But I miss the love I once felt for this character.

The Shadow #2:  This was probably the last issue of the Garth Ennis series that I'm gonna buy.  It's not bad by any means, but it's not grabbing me either.  Frankly, I just want The Shadow to Shadow it up.  The Lamont Cranston stuff is not engaging me.  It might just read better in trade.  That's where I'll check it out again if I bother at all.


Brian Regan at The Warner Theater:  On Saturday Night, The Wife took me out to see one of her favorite comedians.  She's a stand-up comedy junkie and even though I've enjoyed certain comics in my time, it's a realm I need to be steered in to properly enjoy.  Thankfully I've got her.  Regan offered some serious chuckles with his flailing spider web comedy and plaid shirt shenanigans, but his nice guy humor doesn't grab me in any particular way.  Just a few days have passed and I'm having difficulty recalling his bit.  Still, it was a good time and it's always fun to venture into DC for a show.


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