There they are. All Five of the television Star Trek Captains in one glorious photo. Wish I had snapped the shot, but it's the official photo provided by Wizard World for their Philadelphia Convention that was held last weekend. And I was there. And it provided for some of the greatest and most surreal moments of my life. But more on that later.
Most of my Week was consumed with completing the AMC Western Hell On Wheels and gorging the entire first season of Batman: The Animated Series. Sooooooo good. Until The Dark Knight Rises hits I'll be feasting on all manner of Bat-related pop culture. Cartoons, comics, movies, music, and toys. Holy Dollar Dollar Bill Y'all, Batman!
And, yes, I finally saw West Side Story thanks to my buddy Robert. Vibrant, technicolor glory and easily one of my favorite movie musicals.
TV OF THE WEEK!
Hell on Wheels Episodes 6-10: Okay. It. Was. O. K. Again, I really wanted to love this bloody show but just couldn't make it happen. Anson Mount not only has an awesome name, but he's got the right look for the mysterious stranger figure. And Colm Meaney is a great industrially ass bag. And The Swede!!!!! So damn freaky scary. But the plots never grabbed me and I never really cared what happened to Mount or his quest for revenge. Sure, Tom Noonan's preacher has a crazy burst of sadistic bliss that I enjoyed quite a bit and there were other moments of violence that grabbed my attention. Still, all I wanted to watch when I was actually watching this was Deadwood. I miss that badass program.
Batman The Animated Series Season One: Aw yeah. Bruce Timm's cartoon is still my favorite version of The Dark Knight. Yep. That's right. More than the Christopher Nolan films. And more than the comic books. Bam. The first season is fantastic, but it's still building to the eventual genius that it will become in the second and third seasons. All your favorite rogues get their intros: Joker, Two-Face, Poison Ivy, Penguin, Killer Croc, Clay Face, Clock King. But, honestly, I love the mini-Godfather mob bosses that rule over Gotham. Daggett and Thorne are the true beasts of the first season.
The Animated Series is perfect for marathonning. Popping one disc after the other, it was no problem to consume 28 episodes in a few days. Not every ep succeeds, there are a couple of bores in "The Underdwellers" and "Prophecy of Doom" but "Heart of Ice" defines Mr. Freeze in a way never fully realized in the comics and the same can be said for the abominable Clay Face in "Feet of Clay." I Heart Ron Perlman. Really looking forward to devouring the rest of the series.
MOVIES OF THE WEEK!
West Side Story: Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet retold on the Mean Streets of New York City! It's Sharks vs Jets as Richard Beymer's Tony swoons for Natalie Wood's mambo virgin Maria, and it's an incredibly fun and vibrant musical until blades switch from pockets and the inevitable doom of young love bleeds under the freeway. As far as musicals go, West Side Story is THE Epic, why bother with anything else...unless it's The Blues Brothers or Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
The Grey: "Fuck it. I'll do it myself." After their plane crashes somewhere in the Alaskan wilderness, Liam Neeson and a handful of men unfit for mankind must fend off a pack of territorial wolves craving their fleshy bits. Not the wolf-punching actioner some might have desired, Joe Carnahan's Jack Londoner is an existential exploration on the desire to live when your faith fails you and despair takes hold. Neeson gives one of his finest performances and his hunter Ottway represents the type of manliness not often seen in modern cinema--The Grey is a film Lee Marvin or Charles Bronson would have fit snugly into, and it's nice to see that Hollywood still has the ability to produce such a testosterone stuffed spectacle.
Thief: "I'll whack out your whole family. People will be eating them for lunch tomorrow in their Wimpy burgers and not know it." James Caan and Jim Belushi are a couple of professional thieves who bite off more than they can chew with Robert Prosky's brutal Los Angeles crime lord. Tuesday Weld is Caan's lady, a woman who thinks she can handle his violent day job but slowly comes to a sad understanding after babies are purchased and houses firebombed. Half the fun of this film is watching professionals excel at their vault cracking craft and the rest is from watching their craft fail them. The climactic slo mo & squibby showdown is great fun, and there are a couple of gun deaths that rank amongst my morbid favorites.
Drive: After Thief I felt like I had to dive right into Drive for an Neon Noir double feature, and watching those two films back to back felt absolutely right. I've now seen Drive five times and its charm has not faded for me. Ryan Gosling's Driver is a seemingly simple minded brute, just waiting to focus his rage and talents onto Albert Brooks' pompous A-hole psycho gangster. Driver's loose affection for Carey Mulligan & child is sweet as well as fairly disturbing. And Nicholas Winding Refn's handling of both the sweetness and the bursting violence is masterful. I really cannot wait to see what they do with Only God Forgives.
Snow White and the Huntsman: Frankly, I had no interest in another Snow White film. And the idea of Kristen Stewart as the red lipped beauty? Give me a friggin' break. That being said, I enjoyed the ever-loving-hell outta this movie. Stewart is what you expect and Chris Hemsworth is disappointingly bland as the axe swinging Huntsman. But Charlize Theron is a Monster. She displays a special kind of insane rage that I haven't come across in cinema for quite some time and every second she's on screen Snow White and the Huntsman is a great film. Unfortunately she is not the star...but if her crazy ass Queen had been the Hero of the picture than maybe we would have been treated to something brilliant. And the Seven Dwarfs are Britishly fantastic with Ian McShane, Ray Winstone, Bob Hoskins, and Nick Frost stealing every other scene. Also, I couldn't help but think of John Boorman's Excalibur with all the clashing armor and screaming knights...what surreal wonders could that mad director have added to this wannabe revisionist fairy tale.
COMIC OF THE WEEK!
Batman - The Black Mirror: "Nothings okay." One of the best Bat books I've read in a long, long time. Nonetheless, The Black Mirror is a thoroughly depressing saga revolving around the selling of unique Gotham City artifacts, a corpse cut from the belly of a Killer Whale, The Joker's toxic sweat, and the return of Commissioner Gordon's psychopathic son. Bruce Wayne is off globetrotting with his Batman, Incorporated scheme leaving one-time Robin, Dick Grayson under the cape and cowl of Gotham's Dark Knight. Scott Snyder proves himself a key writer in the franchise while artists Jock and Francesco Francavilla's art paints a thick layer of dread to the already grim narrative. The final confrontation between Bats & rogue somehow manages to exceed the expectations of the demented narrative build, and it left this reader rather shaken.
ROAD TRIP OF THE WEEK!
The View from our Hotel Window
Wizard World Philadelphia:
Late Thursday night, The Wife and I arrived in Philadelphia for the latest Wizard World Comic Convention. It had been two years since we'd last attended this particular con; we were drawn back up North at the promise of all five Star Trek Captains appearing under the same roof--in particular one William Tiberius Shatner. Readers of this blog should already be well familiar with our obsession with The Shat and despite some rather close encounters during the San Diego Comic Con last year and the Shatner's World Broadway Show a few months back, this was the first opportunity I had at actually meeting The Man face to face. And he did not disappoint.
In the next couple of days I'm gonna post a massive report on the Philly Wizard World, but for now all you need to know is that Shater was a super nice fellow, talked to The Wife & I much longer than expected, and signed my Shat Attack III poster....I seriously can't believe he was not only cool with plastering his name to our mad event, but also rather curious about the party shenanigans.
But it wasn't all just about Shatner. Scored a bunch of cool swag in the Dealers Room. Batman Brave & The Bold Hot Wheel! Tom Whalen Art! Snapped a lot great photos of Cosplayers. Sat in on a batch of panels. Quantum Leap! Buffy! And paid money for a bunch more autographs. James Hong! Dean Cain! And, oh yeah, finally met the men behind the Twitter handles @Doubledumbass & @Aftermoviediner!
But more on that later. Prepare yourself for a crap ton of pictures...