Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Fistful of Car Crashes! (Brad's Picks)

I don't know how it happened, but somewhere between 1995's The Fast and The Furious and yesterday's release of Fast Five I became a fan of this ridiculous franchise.  Maybe it's my irrational Paul Walker love (the man did Running Scared, people!) or my intense desire to see dumb people do dumb things in supercharged sportscars, but I am genuinely excited to see this latest entry in the car thief saga.

Anyway, this was a hard list to compile.  There are just endless great car crashes in cinema, but since I have to pick just five here's what I got.

5.  The Revelatory Steven Russell T-Bone Smash (I Love You Phillip Morris):  The first Surprise! T-Bone Car Crash I remember ever having a lot of effect of my delicate psyche was the Chis Cooper backing-out-the-driveway flashback from Adaptation.  BOOM!  Jump! Shock! Wet Myself!  But my favorite Jump Scare car crash of late was the one that occured in last year's I Love You Phillip Morris.  Virgina Beach policeman Steven Russell (Jim Carrey) is safely hiding in the closet, keeping his true nature from his wife, child, and supposed friends.  Then BOOM! As he's screaming at the EMTs hauling his bloody carcass to the hospital, he lets the world know that The Closet cannot contain him anymore!  The Mad Brilliant Romantic Comedy Journey of I Love You Phillip Morris begins.

4.  The Ferrari Pantera Explosion (Cannonball!):  Okay, so technically this is a Car Explosion and not a Car Crash, but it's my list and I can do whatever I want.  Filmed just one year after Death Race 2000, Cannonball! reteamed writer/director Paul Bartel with David Carradine in this very serious take on the Cannonball Run phenomenon (but this should not be confused with the Burt Reynolds zaniness of a few years later).  Unaware that his Ferrari Pantera has been rigged to blow, James Keach's Wolfe Messer attempts to outrun a persistent copper when he hits 160 MPH--BOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  A tremendous display of blasting caps.

3.  The On Two Wheels Truck Crash (Race With The Devil):  You could probably pick any number of great car crashes from the amazing Race With The Devil, but this bit of crazy is definitely my favorite.  Fleeing from Evil Satanic Cultists in their Winnebago, Peter Fonda and Warren Oates have to battle various clinging marauders on the freeway.  As they shotgun baddies off their roof and side, Fonda finally decides to let go of his champion dirt bikes attached to the back.  The falling motorcycles cause one cultists over-corrected pickup to spin, spin, spin, spin, crash.  If you have not yet seen this movie than stop whatever you're doing and get yourself over to Netflix.

2.  Police Car Demolition (Blues Brothers 2000):  Vastly inferior to the original film, Blue Brothers 2000 still manages to entertain in a few places.  One of those spots is definitely the massive police car demolition that erupts 2/3rds through the film.  With the entire band clown-carred inside the Bluesmobile, The Brothers escape  a tent revival and supernaturally avoid a collision with what has to be every Trooper in the State.  Unfortunately, all those Troopers meet each other in a Looney Tunes-like dogpile of metal and sirens.  Utter Landis genius.

1.  The Dave Dee Dozy Beak Mick & Titch Car Crash (Death Proof):  I was going to pick something a little more classic for my top spot, something from Road Warrior or maybe even Cannonball Run but at the end of the day I cannot deny the power of this QT devised wreck.  After a night of depressive flirtations, a  collection of Hipster Austinites meet their demise via head-on collision with car-slasher Stuntman Mike (so far, the last Great Kurt Russell performance).  The suspense ratchets along to the pulsing cool tunes of Dave Dee Dozy Beak Mick & Titch and then Tarantino and editor Sally Menke outdo themselves with the splicing and dicing of the actual crash.  Cinematic Wonder!


Friday, April 29, 2011

Fistful of Car Crashes! (Matt's Picks)

Shouldn't there be an explosion in the background?

So, Fast Five is out today, and we Dorks wanted to give you some of our favorite car crashes in honor of the FIFTH film in this franchise.  The fifth.  There have previously been four of them.  There probably won't be a sequel to Tron Legacy, but there have been FOUR Fast and/or Furious films.  And now there's a fifth.

Anyway, here's my list...

5.  The Pinto Crash from Top Secret.  Who parked in the middle of my battlefield?

4.  Escalator Parking from Crank.  Is this not a proper place to park?  Chev is a pretty good driver, but you shouldn't drive and talk on your cell while being chased through a mall by police.  Even if it is a medical emergency. 

3.  The Demise of The Nightrider.  He may be a fuel injected suicide machine, but he doesn’t have jack-squat on ultra-hardcore cop Max Rockatansky.

2.  Sara’s Flashback from Intacto.  Perhaps not the most explosive or violent crash in film, it is one of the more chillingly effective.  (There's a bit of the crash at around 1:20).

1.  The Death of the Beast from The Duel.  Dennis Weaver made for a really weird action hero, but he got the job done.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

New Transformers 3 Trailer Gives This Dork Goosebumps

"Where Were You When They Took Over The Planet?"

I caught a little slack from some folks for ranking Transformers: Dark of the Moon fairly high on my Fistful of Summer Anticipation list (I do get it, the last film was all kinds of awkward awfulness), but this new trailer fills my nostalgic dork heart with all kinds of giddy joy.  Michael Bay looks to have crafted one of the greatest spectacles of Robot Explosion Porn ever imagined.  This film cannot come soon enough as far as I'm concerned.  And, again, no Megan Fox.  Bonus.


Hobo With A Shotgun DVD/BLU RAY Release Date!

It's been a while since we've posted anything on Hobo With A Shotgun, one of my most eagerly anticipated films of the year.  It's playing On Demand Right Now!  But I've kinda been crossing my fingers that some place like E Street or Cinema Arts is going to be playing it on the Big Screen around my neck of the woods.  However, today they announced that Hobo is gonna hit the retail streets on 7/5/11.  So at the very least, I'm waiting for Blu.  Details below:


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

They will never take...Our FREEDOM!!! Oh, wait...

What's that?  Visionary director Tarsem (Singh), the man behind The Cell and The Fall, has a new movie coming out?  And it's going to be about Greek mythology?  Holy crap.  That might be the greatest news I've heard in a long time.  It might just be my most anticipated film of 2011. 

And there's a trailer, too?  I can't wait to watch it...

...What the crap? 

Never mind. 


Zardoz: The 8 Bit Adventure

All this talk of Lee Marvin and Point Blank has rekindled my love for the mad works of John Boorman.  Hell in the Pacific, Deliverance, Excalibur, The Emerald Forest, The Tailor of Panama--these are some great mad movies, but the most bugnuts flick you've hopefully seen (and if you haven't get over to Netflix quick!) is Zardoz.

Well, Badass Digest just posted this wonderfully bizarre 8 Bit Video Game adaptation that just has to be seen.  Absolutely wonderful.  

I only wish that we could play the rest of the game.  Come On People, start the write-in campaign!  Let's make the Zardoz game a reality!


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Comics – Creator or Character Part IV: What Really Sells?

That’s a tough question.  But first:


Many of us who call ourselves comic fans start with the superheroes – Superman, Wolverine, Wonder Woman, the Fantastic Four – these characters we are already familiar with, whether through movies, cartoons, lunchboxes, or Halloween costumes.  And during that introductory period, we are blinded by these spandex-clad uber-men (a combination of their newness and the more widespread availability of comics from the big two publishers, DC and Marvel), and we latch onto new characters on an almost weekly basis. 

But at some point, we come to realize there are men and women behind the creation of these stories.  And we start to recognize certain art styles and the fact that particular writers seem to create tales that speak more to us than others.  We begin to follow these creators to different books, even if they are working with characters with which we might not have much interest.  Our collecting shifts – at least for most of those who follow through with comic buying after middle school – and titles we bought religiously at age thirteen gather dust in the back of a longbox as we turn twenty-five and thirty. 

And, if you read message boards dedicated to comics, it might seem there are only two types of readers – those who follow characters and those who follow creators. I expect the reality is that most readers who have been with this hobby as long as I have are hybrids of these two, but that doesn’t make for an interesting discussion.  So let’s hold to this dichotomy and see which is better, to follow the character or the creator?


When people think of the Fantastic Four or Green Lantern or the Flash or the X-Men, the characters may be the first images they see, but the creator most associated (in their minds) with those heroes is often the second thing that comes to the fore. 

Walt Simonson’s Thor
Wolfman & Pérez on New Teen Titans
Chris Claremont on X-Men
Curt Swan drawing Superman
Norm Breyfogle on Batman
J.M. DeMatteis on Captain America
Todd McFarlane on Spider-Man
Moore/Bissette/Totleben on Swamp Thing
Frank Miller on Daredevil
Jim Aparo on the Phantom Stranger
Barry Windsor-Smith on Conan

These creators had seminal runs on these characters’ titles.  They not only raised their own profile with their work on these books, they also raised the profile of these heroes.  Frank Miller saved Daredevil, which was running bi-monthly when he came onto it.  Moore saved Swamp Thing and made it a top-selling book.  Claremont and Byrne ignited the juggernaut that became the X-Men, a title that, at one point, stopped publishing new work and only reprinted older stories, despite creators such as Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Neal Adams having worked on the book.  These writers and artists are linked with these characters, for better or worse, and not because the characters were compelling characters, but because these creators made the characters compelling. 

Dark Phoenix Saga
The Judas Contract
Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?
The Trial of Galactus
Daredevil: Born Again
Batman: Year One

These are the stories that get talked about, that are remembered by fans, and are reprinted in multiple editions, because fans still want to be able to read them.  They are the backbone - the core - of many of these four-color heroes.

And someone had to write them.  And someone had to draw them.


And yet, the practice at DC and Marvel for so long, was to put the character above the creator.  They had little interest in creators’ rights, and felt writers and artists were interchangeable. 

And certainly, it can be argued that the publication of these characters’ books can weather a change in artist or writer with relative ease.  There’s so much ancillary merchandise out there – not only keeping these heroes fresh in the minds of the general populace and, more importantly, in the faces of children, but also providing larger revenue streams than the comics ever could – that the publishing arms of these corporations are often little more than a minor note on the board of directors’ final tally sheet, there only to keep the copyright and trademark alive so that more shrinky dinks and plastic tumblers can be pumped out for the kids to buy. 

For decades, these publishers continued to commit the same mistake, believing the creators to be disposable, when it was really their product that was disposable.  The companies did not want to pay more for artists they deemed a dime a dozen.  And creators left and went to work for the competition, which often meant the “other” of the Big Two since the options were few and far between when it came to creating comics through the first fifty years or so of the medium.  Jack Kirby famously left Marvel in 1970 to work for DC.  Neal Adams did the same.  Barry Smith, Steve Ditko - the same. 

Only in recent decades have there been so many more options for these writers and artists.  Alan Moore launched his own publishing imprint and eventually moved to Top Shelf.  Neil Gaiman has moved on to book publishing and movies, while Howard Chaykin and Gerry Conway have only recently – relatively speaking – returned to comics after lengthy tenures in Hollywood. 


Creators want to be respected.  They want to be paid fairly, to have their work and contributions acknowledged, and - though I am dubious of this ever coming about - to own the work they create.  They want to be compensated for reprints and for the use of their characters.  In short, they wish to be treated like adults.


Prodigal Son: Fresh Meat

Part Nine:

Hello.  Brad, here.  Matt thought it might be nice this week for you lovely people to hear my point of view on the RPG madness he's unleashed upon my life of late.  So, yeah, I'm not a real gamer and I don't really have the terminology at my control (NPC, that means something right?) so don't mock me too much, okay?  Appreciate it.

Matt and I have been buds for about three or four years now.  And in that time, I've had to sit through endless conversations regarding Role Playing and how this sport is the highest art of dorkdom.  I've always respected (and mostly enjoyed) his stories of The Game.  But I've never bothered with Role Playing and I've never really had an interest in it--a curiosity, sure, cuz it really does feel like it's own world outside of Film Buffs, Comic Nerds, Code Monkeys, and the like.  RPG is hardcore Nerd Behavior.  And I am in a constant state of achieving King Dork.

But, to me, it's always been a mystery.  I've never quite understood what goes on in the games or the game parlors.  I'd seen the D&D movie.  I seen the D&D jokes peppered through various pop referencey comedies like That 70s Show or Community.  But how do all those crazy dice work?  How do you compile these great adventures Matt's always talking about?  

So, it's that curiosity, that finally got me to break down and say to Matt, "Let's do this."  In the past, we had attempted a couple times to get a mini-group game going.  I'm a huge Trekkie so naturally we had talked about the possibility of doing a post-Motion Picture/pre-Wrath of Khan game.  I had even come up with a rather lame character to put aboard our outer rim vessel.  But for a variety of reasons, that game never got off the ground.

A year later, Matt and I finally just decided to do a one player game.  A test of the waters.  Would I dig it?  We've both been grooving on Lovecraft lately, so it wasn't too hard to decide on Call of Cthulhu as my introductory game.

The whole shindig took two days.

Day One:  Character Creation.  Again, I had no idea how these things went down.  Even having come up with a mini-biography for that failed Trek game I still was clueless on the creation process.  I understand that each game is different, but with Call of Cthulhu there's this character sheet that I had to complete using a little creativity and some funny shaped dice I came away with my characters' Education, Skill Sets, and even a little Personal History.  

I took my characters name Paul "Paulie" Connors from the Casablanca and Soylent Green posters hanging above the kitchen table, mashing actors Paul Henreid and Chuck Connors into one fine specimen.  I made him a Great War vet, a North Dakota farmhand--the strong silent type who's seen just enough hell to prepare him for the Mythos madness about to spill aboard the tramp steamer heading towards Innsmouth.  

Day Two:  The Story/Game

What I learned fairly quickly was that Role Playing was a serious creatively collaborative process.  For the game to really work it was going to require that I bring as much storytelling power to the table as game master Matt did.  More or less, we're writing a short story together.  Matt sets up the pieces and I with my protagonist push the narrative.

And I found that process to be incredibly frustrating.  Don't get me wrong, I had a great time.  But--I was just not prepared to write a story.  For some reason, even though I knew we weren't playing Monopoly or Sorry or the game of LIFE, I thought there were a lot more mechanics to the process.  I thought I was going to be rolling the dice every couple of seconds, move ten paces, stop MONSTER!, fight, move three space, etc...etc...I just didn't realize I was going to actively take on the roll of investigator.  That I was going to have to put on my thinking cap and solve this thing.  Who or what was killing the crew?  How was I gonna get off this boat?

In the end, Paulie Connors survived.  He killed a bunch of folks.  Cleaned up the blood.  Burned all the bad books.  And jumped overboard, swimming to shore.  Sigh.

It was fun.  But I never figured it out.  Heck, I never even quite understood how this story tied into the Cthulhu mythos.  The game was definitely entertaining, but also incredibly maddening.  Part of me thinks I played too safe.  Maybe I should have read more of the manuscripts or played around with the dark artifacts.  But I never quite felt comfortable enough with my character.  Was I playing him or was I playing me?  It was just tricky to get into that collaborative storyteller headspace.  I think I'd do better next time.

One thing is definite, Role Playing is fascinating.  I want to do more.  Particularly, I want to do more Call of Cthulhu with this plot Matt has cooked up.  I need answers.  And I want to bring my wife into it.  I think she could end up having loads of fun with this geek format.

And at the very least, I'm quite happy to have finally checked RPG off my dork bucket list.  Hmmm, is Cosplay next????


New Release Tuesday (4/26/11)!!!

Must Buy of the Week!

BLOW OUT (CRITERION BLU RAY):  9 times out of ten, you can pretty much buy any Criterion dvd sight unseen and know that you're going to get your money's worth.  1981's Blow Out is the Ultimate Brian DePalma movie.  It's got those fantastic not-quite-Alfred Hitchcock, not-quite Dario Argento film angles.  That over-the-top, supernatural Pino Donaggio film score pulsing through the characters.  And the troubled, creepy violence of John Lithgow.  And sorry Pup Fiction, Get Shorty, Face Off, Grease, Swordfish, Wild Hogs fans, Blow Out is the best film in John Travolta's cannon.  But why don't I just let Criterion tell you why you gotta have this in your collection.


FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS (CRITERION BLU RAY):  The only reason this isn't my Must Buy of the Week! is because I've had the Criterion Standard for years now.  Fear and Loathing is a monster of a movie that I really can't watch all the time.  In fact, I haven't watched it in a couple of years because it's just so damn intense of a movie.  Terry Gilliam goes all out with the Hunter Thompson visual assault and it hurts my brain sometimes.  Genius, but it's not a Saturday Night kinda movie.  Beward of Bat Country.

THE TERROR (BLU RAY):  Okay, so this was on my New Release Tuesday (3/29/11) list but for some horrible reason The Terror got pushed back till today.  I won't go again into the details of why this must be own, but damn, I'm excited to get my copy.


AVENGERS EARTH'S MIGHTIEST HEROES VOLUMES 1 & 2:  I have yet to see a single episode from this new Disney produced series and I have my fingers seriously crossed cuz Warner Brothers has been spanking Marvel left and right with their excellent Direct-to-Dvds and I have yet to see a Marvel animated product that captures the spirit of the comics (well, that last Spider-Man cartoon came close at times).  And if there could come any happy news outta the Disney merger, maybe, just maybe we can get some high quality Marvel shows.  

SNIPER RELOADED:  I'm sure this Direct-to-DVDer is a load of garbage, but--It's A Sequel To Sniper Starring Billy Zane!!!!!  I gotta see it!  Sniper was one of those films from the 90s like Solo or No Escape that captured my young teenage heart.  Simplistic, silly action with lots and lots of grandstanding.  And I'm always ready to see Zoolander's Billy Zane behind the scope.

CHAWZ:  Hey, do you want to see a Korean pseudo-remake of JAWS starring a wild, rampaging Boar in the place of Bruce the Shark?  Of course, you do.  Plus, I love how the trailer below reminds me of one of my favorite somewhat forgotten teen novel The Boar by Joe R. Lansdale.  If you haven't read that then get yourself to ebay and buy a ridiculously expensive copy.

DINOSHARK:  Why stop with the Direct-to-Dvd shenanigans, Dinoshark is the latest Roger Corman monster mashup that's taken over the SyFy Channel and even though it stars the uber-dreadful Eric Balfour I'm curious to see the rampage.  As you know, I am a sucker for Roger Corman's Just Do It productions.


Parker: Lee Marvin By John Boorman

While trolling youtube for all things Lee Marvin and Parker I discovered this really nifty mini-documentary that filmmaker John Boorman (Point Blank, Hell in the Pacific, Deliverance, Excalibur) did for the BBC called Lee Marvin: A Personal Portrait.  It's really fantastic with appearances from folks like William Hurt, Jim Jarmusch, Pamela Marvin, and others.  Readings from Marvin's personal journal about his WWII experiences as well as his great fishing expeditions in Australia.  And yes, you'll be able to see the wallet Marvin was carrying when a bullet went whizzing through and granted him his Purple Heart.  Really, I would love to see this cleaned up and put out as a DVD extra...maybe on that Point Blank blu ray we're still waiting around for.


Parker: Payback vs. Payback


The 1999 theatrical release of Payback came and went without hardly a notice from this film fan.  I know that I saw it in the theater.  And I know that I thought it was "okay."  But in February of '99, I was 19 years old, and was probably more interested in offbeat horror flicks like Ravenous or the mondo genius of Being John Malkovich.  At the time I had no idea who Richard Stark or Donald Westlake was and I had only seen a smattering of films made before the 1980s.  Lee Marvin was a god to come; Mel Gibson had just lost his cool cred' with the abismal Lethal Weapon 4 and with Payback I was probably hoping for a return to action badassery.

The Payback theatrical cut is not a bad movie.  But...if you've never read The Hunter than the film will probably not stir a single serious emotion in your mind or body.  A solid, crime revenge film that doesn't really differentiate itself from a dozen other crime revenge films.  Mel Gibson is Porter.  Shot, left for dead.  On his belly with a back alley doctor clawing bullets out his back; a thin narration lets you know its all about the Seventy grand and maybe a little retribution if can score it.

Mel Gibson is a solid Parker (Porter).  As writer/Director Brian Helgeland says during a DVD extra, "You get Mel cuz Humphrey Bogart is dead."  He has that charming scumbag quality that Bogart displays in flicks like The Petrified Forest.  They say and do terrible things and you love them for that.  When Porter puts a pillow over a defeated colleague's face and pops a few rounds through, you crack a smile if not cheer outright. 

Payback has a taste of Richard Stark's novel and a taste of John Boorman's Point Blank, but Mel Gibson is never quite as cold as Parker or as angry vicious as Lee Marvin's Walker. There's too much heart in Porter. He's definitely pissed that his wife shot him in the back. And he totally wants to kill Val (not Mal like the book) for the double-cross, but he shows too much heart for Maria Bello's Rosie and he's missing that calculating distance.  Plus, you have that awful narration completely betraying the intelligence and the code of Parker, and if you've read the books than you're tearing at your scalp every time the inner monologue starts.  

Now, fastfoward seven years and Warner Brothers & producer Mel Gibson throw more cash into Payback and allow Helgeland back into the editing room.  See, in 1999 WB didn't understand or want the violent world of Porter; what they wanted was a quirky, post-QT/Lock Stock ironic crime action picture.  After a few test screenings, they fired Helgeland and hired Paul Abascal for ten days of reshoots completely altering the tone and rewriting the climax with this goofy, stupid Kris Kristofferson offspring kidnapping bit.

Watching the Payback: Straight Up Edition blu ray is a shocking, revelatory experience.  I have seen plenty of Director Cuts in my time (Blade Runner, Aliens, Superman II, Watchmen, etc), but I have never seen a director's cut that radically alters the movie as much as this one.  It's a totally different film with a completely different 30 minute climax and a much more vicious Porter.

Gone is the silly, very 90s blue bleached bypass print.  Gone is the horribly stupid narration.  Most of the quippy humor has been stripped from the script.  But most importantly, Parker's cold, mechanical rage has been restored.  

The film opens proper.  A new quote runs red over black, "principle n 1:  one's own rule or code of conduct or devotion to such a code."  Porter marches across the George Washington Bridge, bloody betrayal boils underneath.  He still steals the bums money, pulls the right cons to get him back on his feet.  But the whole vibe is different.  Chris Boardman's score has been completely replaced by the quiet cool of Scott Stambler.  Porter still door kicks Deborah Kara Unger, but it's not just a sudden burst of anger.  It's a seething anger.  It's almost Lee Marvin angry.  No punchers or knives or irons pulled.  

And No Kris Kristofferson and his god awful, horny son!!!  Yes!  In fact, Bronson doesn't even show up in Helgeland's cut; nope The Outfit's matriarch only appears as a voice seeping through a speaker.  Porter has to settle on proper low rent criminals like Greg Henry, William Devane, and James Coburn to beat and torture. 

The Straight Up Edition, miraculously (yep, it had to be divine intervention!), reveals a nearly spot-on adaptation of Richard Stark's The Hunter.  It's not perfect (again, that would be the Darwyn Cooke graphic novel), but the professional and amoral brilliance of Parker has been re-edited into Mel Gibson's Porter.  And, yes, we can now finally Root for the Bad Guy.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Comic Review: Fall of Cthulhu

    In the first volume, Fugue, Michael Alan Nelson tells the story of a young man thrown into a mad world by the suicide of his beloved uncle.  Nelson interprets some aspects of Lovecraft’s mythos in ways I wouldn’t, especially when it comes to the Dreamlands.  But the very nature of Lovecraft’s work invites these varied ways of understanding and interpreting. 
    The story certainly builds an atmosphere of grim horror.  A lot is set up here, which I can only assume will become more clear and developed in later volumes.  The art isn’t amazing, but it’s passable.  I really don’t care for Andrew Ritchie’s work on the Dreamlands segments.  It’s evocative, I guess, but almost abstract and very ugly. 
    This is probably not for the causal reader, either.  Though not especially gory, it is quite disturbing and very dark.  Suicide, homicide, and eventual deicide are all on the docket in this series.

    In volume two, The Gathering, we start to see the various forces and interests that are coming together for the clash of gods.  There isn’t really a single focal point character in this volume, unless maybe it’s Mr. Arkham’s right hand man, Connor. 
    The art is still a mixed bag, but overall, I found it more palatable in the second volume.  I also really liked the introduction of the Masked Mute, and the imagery that accompanies her. 

    Volume three, The Gray Man, brings in a potentially interesting character in Lucifer, a wayward Brazilian girl with a heck of a lot more going on than one would expect.  And strong jawed cop, Sheriff Dirk helps give the reader a more grounded, everyman view of the unfolding events. 
    The conflict becomes more defined in this volume, too, with the stakes more clearly delineated, and the players all on the board, except perhaps Cthulhu himself (though his agents are in the thick of things). 

    (Mild spoilers ahead) In Godwar, the fourth volume, all hell breaks loose and the war between the gods begins in earnest.  The world starts its journey into madness, the ancient city rises from the depths, and everyone who’s anyone descends on its long hidden streets.  If I have one major complaint about the art from this series, it’s that the first real view of R’lyeh is less than overwhelming.  It looks like a simple Mediterranean village with a flooding problem.  And those angles look pretty darned Euclidian to me. 

    The fifth volume, Apocalypse, brings the series to a dramatic conclusion, with lots of crazy stuff going on, and the obligatory revelations and twists.  Who was really pulling the strings?  Who had the upper hand?  Who guessed one more move ahead on the chess board?  I guess my problem with this finale is that when all is said and done, the actual ending becomes a bit too intimate.  Though normally, I think one must keep stories on somewhat of an individual level, when it comes to the horrors of Lovecraft, especially when it comes to a war between the gods, it feels like the problems of a few people shouldn’t amount to a hill of beans, much less the tipping point of victory. 
    Still, the art here is the best and most consistent.  And I guess the ending is somewhat satisfying.  Like the whole series, it’s not the take on Lovecraft that I’d have done were it in my hands.  But it wasn’t.  And I did enjoy reading it.  So, at the end of the day, that’s what is important to this reviewer. 

    Nemesis, the final volume tells the story of a side character (of sorts) who appeared in the first couple volumes.  It goes back in time to the final days of Atlantis, showing some of the events chronicled in the previous volumes being set in motion.  The story feels more like a Robert E. Howard tale than Lovecraft (not to say they’re totally unrelated), but it’s not bad.  Unfortunately, the art by Todd Herman is only so-so, and by the end appears either rushed or lazy. 

    Of the Lovecraft inspired comics I’ve read so far, this series is among the better, and thanks to having a single writer, most consistent in terms of story and character.  Though the art is not, ranging from kind of crappy to pretty good.  It’s worth reading, and I’m hoping it will lead to more, hopefully better comics dealing with the Mythos in the future.  Perhaps something involving alien conspiracies and the Mi-go?  One can hope.

Fall of Cthulhu: The Fugue, The Gathering, The Gray Man, Godwar, Apocalypse, and Nemesis
Author: Michael Alan Nelson
Art: Various
Publisher: Boom! Studios
ISBN: 978-1-934506-19-6, 978-1-934506-49-3, 978-1-934506-50-9, 978-1-934506-57-8, and 978-1-934506-93-6


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Parker: Jason Statham In Flashfire?

The wonderfully obsessed website, The Violent World of Parker claims to have learned from "a reliable source" that the upcoming Taylor Hackford/Jason Statham Parker film will be based on the novel Flashfire, published in 2000 its one of the later novels that I haven't quite reached yet.  It appears to be a bank heist book with heaps of double-crossing.  Sounds good.  The 90s resurrection of Parker is most curious to me and I am anxiously awaiting the point in which I pass Butcher's Moon and move on to Comeback.  Does Stark/Parker still got it after a 23 year absence?  

But that's neither here nor there.  I am happy to hear that it's an adaptation and not an original Hollywood concoction. Although, Statham is hardly my perfect choice for Parker he can make the beast work.  Fingers crossed.