Monday, October 1, 2012

Brad's Week in Dork! (9/23/12-9/29/12)

This week started out strong with the thankfully excellent Dredd 3D, but after marathoning several films I discovered that my love for Steven Seagal has dwindled quite a bit.  Still love, love, love Hard To Kill but the other movies were a bit of a bore.  I'm happy to keep him out of Expendables 3.  The rest of the week was taken over by The Avengers blu ray release and a whole mess load of comic books.


Dredd:  Karl Urban straps on the uniform, keeps the helmet on, and perfects the stern forwny face of Judge Dredd and it is beautifully badass. No cheeky one-liners, no SNL comic relief. Just brutality and bloodshed. Sure, this Dredd lets one too many punk kids live but he takes a strong stance on the homeless and he's not afraid to barbecue the baddies or toss them off the appropriate ledges. Lena Headey is disgustingly villainous as the drug pushing madame slumlord, and Olivia Thirlby is shockingly acceptable as the rookie Judge Anderson - there's an edge to her as well as a sadness not seen before.  But this is Urban's show, and as he stomps through the hallways of the Peach Trees complex I was overcome with giddy glee watching my favorite fascist dispense gory justice.  For those bemoaning this as a Raid rip-off, I say get over yourself.  1) Both went into production at the same time.  2) The world could use more Claustrophobic Kill Crazy Rampage flicks.

Under Siege:  Die Hard on a Boat minus the rapscallion charm of Bruce Willis plus the Kung Fu earnest of stern Steven Seagal. 13 year old Brad ate it up, but it's a little trickier to enjoy in these dark, post-Lawman days. Still, Tommy Lee Jones Two-Faces it up as the rock star terrorist road running his way through a myriad of Seagal slapfests. And Gary Busey as the cross-dressing Commander Krill! A walking nightmare! Under Siege is a solid squibber, but Seagal has hammed his way through better action fodder and his badass routine is not ridiculous enough to be entertaining.  This gets a rec for its bad guys - Jones, Busey, Colm Meaney.

Under Siege 2 - Dark Territory:  If Steven Seagal's kung fu enthusiasm was running thin in 1992 than it was completely used up by 1995. Die Hard on a Boat morphs into Die Hard on a Train and the result is a depressing mid 90s example of bland, unthreatening action. And the hooting Tommy Lee Jones is sorely missed after being replaced by the horrendously whiney Eric Bogosian. But I gotta give credit to the monster mashup train collision that climaxes the film; it's downright magical how Seagal escapes two exploding trains and onto the dangling helicopter ladder.  Impossible physics aside, the land of Direct-To-DVDs was totally ready for Seagal after this repetitive bore.

Hard To Kill:  "We're gonna win & I'll tell you why: Superior attitude, superior state of mind...we'll get 'em buddy...every fucking one of them." Hard To Kill is my go-to Seagal flick. It's utterly ridiculous and the majority of the dialog is laughably intense. You can't keep a good cop down. After capturing William Sadler's diabolical politician conflabbing with shadowy criminals, Seagal's top detective Mason Storm falls into a bullet-induced coma. Seven years later he awakens and using Kung Fu's special herbs & spices, Seagal recharges his ass kicking batteries, pushes the memory of his dead wife outta his mind, and falls face first into the cavernous lips of nurse Kelly LeBrock. Seagal takes Sadler to the bank...the blood bank, horrendously destroying a plethora of corrupt cops and slap happy goons.  Look no further if you seek the ultimate Seagal experience.

Out For Justice:  Man. This film has balls. Opens with an Arthur Miller quote about the otherness of neighborhoods and follows it up quickly with Seagal bashing a pimp through multiple car windows. Steven Seagal plays Italian copper Gino Fellino who gave up life as a wiseguy for the long arm of the law. He understands the mob and the mob respects him. But when made-man William Forsythe goes on a coke fueled killing spree, publicly assassinating a police officer as well as an unfortunate female road rager, than its cops vs mobsters all over the brownstones of New York.  Forsythe's coke acting is phenomenally shaky and agitated, but the film drifts when it should charge. Frankly, I could have used a little more Seagalisms and a lot more plain ol' shotgun violence.

Above The Law:  The film that introduced the world to the iffy Buddah Violence philosophy of Sansei Seagal, who developed, co-wrote, and co-produced the flick. From the jungles of Vietnam to the streets of Chicago, Above The Law pits Henry Silva's murderous Company Man against Seagal's patriot in a battle for America's soul. Thankfully, Silva's bones are brittle and Seagal seems impervious to heroin cocktails. The film is far too earnest to be laughably enjoyable and is more often boring than not.

The Avengers:  Ok.  Four times in the theater.  Three times on the blu ray.  I seriously can not get enough of this movie.  I'm still baffled by its existence, a true wonder of the geek domination of modern pop culture.  THANOS!  Cap, Thor, Iron Man battling it out in the woods.  Tony & Bruce's science banter - Tony's prodding for the Super Hero Hulk.  And the "I'm Always Angry" punchline; 7 viewings and it still gives me chills.  The blu ray looks great.  The special features are solid (kinda wish they kept the extended Cap intro).  And Joss Whedon's commentary is as entertaining as it is engaging.  2012 might be an overall crappy year for movies but I'm happy to have The Avengers at the top of my Best Of list.


Ultimate Spider-Man #15 - So since I'm not really following the United We Stand books outside of Spidey I don't really get what's happening to America.  This is the first issue I've read that alludes to some sort of National catastrophe and the result is the temporary shutdown of Miles' school.  Maria Hill makes her Ultimate Universe debut as the detective in charge of The Prowler's accidental (?) death at the hands of Spider-Man and the book climaxes with Miles knocking on the doorsteps of the Triskelion.  Is he ready to join up?  Will Fury have him?  Will Cap?  I hope so.  This could provide for some great new avenues in this series.

Spider-Men #5:  It's The Ultimates vs Mysterio for the battle of dimensional domination!  My fear was that five issues was not enough to wrap up this epic storyline and I definitely would have preferred this book stretched into 12 issues, but for the most part I found the conclusion to be satisfying.  You gotta feel for Mysterio, he's a super hero punching bag no matter what universe he's in or whatever Scarecrow tricks he's got up his sleeves.  And he's just no match for these web heads.  But this book is all about that cliffhanger.  Where oh where is this massive loose end gonna get resolved?  Spider-Men Part II?  Can't see it happening in Ultimate Spidey or Amazing Spider-Man.  As long as Bendis is writing I'll be reading.

Lobster Johnson - Caput Mortuum:  June, 1932.  A group of Nazi scientists plan a chemical air strike on NYC but they quickly learn to fear The Claw when Lobster Johnson hijacks their Zeppelin.  This is definiltey one of the better Lobster Johnson one shots but I'm still waiting for that quintessential tale.  And maybe it's the presence of the airship, but this felt very Rocketeer to me - which of course, is high praise.

Archer & Armstrong #2:  After a little bickering in the first issue, it appears that Archer & Armstrong are seeing eye to eye on who belongs to an evil cult and who doesn't.  Like the other Valiant books, this is some fun stuff but not quite the Must Read level yet.  Frankly, my favorite bit of the whole book is the Next Issue caption: "The Existence of God Proved (or Disproven)!  Plus: Ninja Nuns!"  Yes!  I want this book to reach Preacher levels of absurdity.

Godzilla - Half Century War #2:  Stokoe's art continues to amaze even when I'm a little underwhelmed by the plot.  Our fearless soldier follows Godzilla into Vietnam where we get our first bit of Kaiju on Kaiju action.  Like the first book the climax comes quick and we're on to a new issue and a new decade.  Still waiting to see the big picture here, but I'm seriously enjoying the ride so far.

Talon #0:  Spinning out of Batman - The Court of Owls, this first issue introduces us to Calvin Rose the only Talon to escape the brain washing of Gotham's secret society.  Frankly, I'm not interested.  Keep the Court in the shadows.  I want to see Snyder explore this new angle in the main Bat book.  I do not want it watered down here.  Calvin Rose is another circus boy orphan and his costume is ridiculous.  Not bothering with this series unless I hear good things from reliable sources.

Winter Soldier #11:  More of the same.  Frankly, I'm tired of writing about this title.  Hawkeye & Bucky get closer to The Black Widow but I'm so bored with this hunt.  Again, I'm seeing this book till Brubaker's departure but I'm really looking forward to jumping ship.

The Goon #42:  It's been too long since I've read this title.  So much silly fun.  We've got a fixed fight, dynamite stuffed zombies, creepy ass Twilight Zone mannequins, a giant sewer beetle, and prophecies of doom.  Plus, The Goon tries on Franky's tighty whities.  Just weird goofy and ugly fun.  Eric Powell brings smiles to all us sickies.

Happy! #1:  What starts off as a bit of wannabe Garth Ennis vulgarity quickly transforms into genuine Grant Morrison crazy.  Nick Sax is a professional hitman slaughtering his way through the underworld until one day he takes a near fatal bullet and awakens to the cartoony horror of a flying blue unicorn named Happy the Horse!  What.  The.  Hell.  That's weird, sure.  But is it good?  Time will tell.  Not won over yet but I'm game.

BPRD Hell On Earth - The Return of the Master #2:  On the Hunt for The Master, the Bureau encounters a rather horrifying monster/ghost in the hills of Scotland, while back at homebase the Zinco Corporation tricks Kate & Johann into lending out their clone.  Plus, Fenix has another vision of the Apocalypse involving comatose Abe and that gross ass Russian mutant continues to taunt his bottled vampire.  The series is building to its 100th issue and that means more terrible catastrophes for the people of Earth.

The Sixth Gun #25:  The Winter Wolves have Becky & Drake entrapped in Fort Treadwell.  Gord & Kirby strike a deal with the mummy Asher Cobb.  And The Sword of Abraham continues their hunt for the six guns.   This latest arc hasn't grabbed me in the same fashion as some of the previous stories, but The Sixth Gun is still the best blending of the horror and western genres I've seen in recent years.

Batman Incorporated #0:  Disappointing.  Not a bad single issue, but if you've been following Morrioson's run on Batman from the beginning than there really is nothing new here.  And that's my general feeling about most of these zero issues.  Lets just get on with the rest of the show.

JLA by Grant Morrison Volume 2:  There is some seriously unfocused crazy going on in the second volume of Morrison's Justice League book and even if I find some of it to be a bit of a slog I do really appreciate its gung ho attitude towards the DC Universe.  The first storyarc focuses on Lex Luthor's InJustice League creating Hard Light duplicates of the JLA in an effort to take down their Moon base watchtower.  This leads leads into a future story in which Darkseid has enslaved the earth thanks to a fat Flash, Metron's chair, and a cyborg Green Lantern.  And oh yeah, don't forget about Death The Black Racer.  WHAAA?!?!?  Honestly, I don't know what's going on half the time with Superman suddenly gone electric, Wonder Woman R.I.P. or not?   And The Wildc.a.t.s cross dimensional team up.  This book is all over the place and it's definitely interesting, but this is also nowhere near the quality of storytelling I was hoping for.  I'm gonna push forward with Morrison's JLA run but I need to take a break for a bit.

Get Jiro:  The fourth selection of my wife's Graphic Novel book club, Get Jiro is quite the departure after last month's Habibi.  Celebrity foodie Anthony Bourdain co-writes this story of a future society in which chefs are the world's highest commodity.  Taking its structure from Red Harvest/Yojimbo/Fistful of Dollars/Last Man Standing, two rival gangs go nuclear after some not-so-subtle manipulations from the titular sushi chef.  Can't say that I hated this book but I really came away unimpressed.  Some of Langdon Foss' art is cool with some very meaty violence and a couple of great character stares, but the story is slight and the structure played out.  But I do have a strong craving for California Rolls.


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