Sunday, March 31, 2013

East of West: Premiere Issue

I had to read the first issue of East of West a few times in order to fully understand what was going on. There is a ton to process in the opening sequences and there are no formal introductions to the characters in the book. Art-wise this is one gorgeous book, the combo of Hickman and Dragotta seems to be a natural fit after reading their Fantastic Four run. The action sequences are brutally stunning and the slower moments are impeccably drawn. 

 Subtle changes to history allow for the strange setting that we are thrown into initially . We have a rewriting of history where the Civil War lasted far longer than it had originally with several Indian tribes fighting as a separate army. This divided the United States much differently than when it was only the North and South fighting each other. The narrative at this point is slightly jumbled, seeing as we the readers have almost no idea of the events that preceded "The Apocalypse" that is taking place. Characters are thrown at us with no true introduction with the exception of the Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Famine, War, and Conquest), who have been reborn in the bodies of young children. That fact really makes no difference as they indiscriminately slaughter hundreds/thousands of people despite their appearance. 

The most intriguing aspect of this chapter is the fact that the Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse, Death, seems to be our protagonist/anti-hero. He is much older than the newly reborn horsemen and they subsequently elected to kill him upon finding out that he was alive. It is hinted upon that he was hunted and left for dead by a group that included The President of the United States. Death is not a forgiving figure and seems to have no issues with dispatching with anyone who willingly gets in his way. He is on a furious quest for revenge against the people that went after him and he is also searching for a yet-to-be-named item that was stolen from him. 

East of West is setting itself up as on of the most intriguing series coming out of Image Comics. I have complete faith in Jonathan Hickman's writing ability, and the fact that answers will be coming along with a whole slew of additional questions. If you love alternate history comics with a sci-fi edge then this is a series that you need to be picking up monthly. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Following- "Guilt"

"Guilt" was another solid edition to the debut season of The Following. This week we got two distinct storylines and also have a huge amount of questions that popped up as well. Jacob is not having a very good day and Ryan and Claire are having an even worse day. Joe's plans are finally falling into place and he is finally on the verge of breaking the will of his nemesis.

Jacob is the standout of the week and we really get a sense of how his experiences with Paul have truly messed him up. The death of Paul both helped and damaged Jacob by allowing him to accept the fact that he can kill but he also lost the one person that he truly loves in the process. The hallucinations are guiding Jacob to do what needs to be done in his mind but he can't fully accept until he "killed" Paul again. It is twisted logic but what can you do. His threat and warning to Emma was absolutely bone chilling and I am hoping that he eventually ganks her but I am sure that it will end up being the other way around.

Ryan Hardy, the American Badass, made an appearance this week in all of his snarky glory. I loved his reaction to the leader of the Task Force, when he was told that he had to call Claire mere moments after being told that their phone lines had been hacked. His "what are you fucking dumb" expression was priceless and makes it seem like he is the only one involved in the case who is actually using their brain. He did everything that actually made sense but he still couldn't come out on top. He is so heavily outnumber at this point that the only way that he is going to beat Joe is if there is a rift within "The Following". Roderick might potentially end up being his greatest ally because there seems to be a growing animosity between Joe and him. Seeing a bit into Hardy's background was great to finally see, no matter how limited our view into it was. His former FBI friend, Tyson, was awesome and hopefully we get to see him, Hardy and Weston team up in the future.  Tyson seems to be one of the only people that will actually call Ryan out on some of his bullshit and also has a close bond with him as well. I hope that this was not a one off appearance because he could come in handy over the next few episodes.

Claire is reaching "Andrea" level in terms of dumbness because she seems to ignore common sense at every turn. Go with the psycho killer to see your son, no problem. Leave a guy that took a bullet to save your life to bleed out on the floor alone, seems like a good idea. Just let her act normal in one episode and all will be forgiven in my mind. I am also interested to see how Ryan's ex-girlfriend is involved in the following and if she was involved from the beginning.

While not the best episode of the series this is another solid edition to the series. This is a series that you need to be watching and is one of the best series on TV currently. Only five more episodes in the season, if you have not seen any to this point, go download them all right now.

The Walking Dead- "This Sorrowful Life"

As this season has continued, my opinion of the show has changed.  The writing has gotten stronger.  The story has been progressing nicely.  They still can’t write Andrea, but thankfully we didn’t have to deal with that this week.  In a Merle-centric episode, the season saw one of its strongest showings and I for one am happy how they did justice to the character.

I’ll get to Merle in a moment, but I would like to talk about Glenn first.  This season has been really good for him.  He’s been gaining more responsibility and screen time and he deserves it.  The writers have been doing everything right for him.  He had a reason to want to go after The Governor as well as take control of the group.  He’s the same strong character in the show now that he is in the book.  I’m going to try and not spoil anything this week in terms of story, but his talk with Herschel was fantastic.  He finally understands his place in the group.  He also had a very funny moment with a zombie in this episode getting a specific piece of hardware for someone.  Whenever there is a little comedy in this show I truly enjoy it.  Here’s to Glenn having a big week in the season finale to close out his fantastic season.

The whole idea of giving Michonne to The Governor was always a poor idea.  When Rick tells Daryl and Hershel that he is going to go through with it, they object again.  When he tells Merle about it to, right away Merle says there is no way Rick will go through with it.  Rick hems and haws throughout the episode about it, until he has a vision from Lori.  Spoiler: She died and I’m sorry if you didn’t know that, but since then she has been used wonderfully.  This episode is no different.  By “seeing” her again he decides it isn’t the best idea to go and give Michonne up as she has become part of the group and he would be no better than the Governor.   Once he comes to this decision though, actions were already in motion, but he gets the group together near the end and tells them that he is no longer in charge.  I’ve been waiting for this all season, as there have been hints.  To have a full democracy going in the group is great and makes every decision have more of an impact.  Thank you Rick for letting go of the leader role, but we’ll see how long it lasts.  I hope the writers don’t mess this up.

Onto the big deal this week, Merle.  He really struck gold this week and from the cold opening until the last moment of the week, anytime Merle was on screen, it was pure bliss.  Whether it’s talking to Rick about the plan to telling Daryl that he needs to get his balls back and be a man again, Merle was fantastic.  He sees that he has to be the one to deliver Michonne, since Rick will back out.  After knocking her out and tying her up, they go for a walk towards Woodbury.  The interaction between these two the whole episode was well written and well-acted.  Merle pressing Michonne’s buttons with using her sword and Michonne eventually getting under Merle’s skin and making him make a decision about taking her to The Governor was just great.  It was the most screen time either of these two have gotten in the recent past and to have it happen together was wonderful.  There were some great zombie killings for both of them.  Michonne always shines here and this episode didn’t disappoint.  After letting her go, Merle devises a plan to go meet The Governor on his own.  While this is happening Daryl is searching for him and eventually finds him.  The Governor gets one more interaction with Merle and he is in full animalistic mode here.  This is the closest The Governor has been to the book version and I wish it had happened sooner in the season.  This was Merle’s send off, and yes you have to watch it to know how it happened, and it was a great one.

Overall this was a great penultimate episode of a season that has been getting better as it barrels towards the end.  Next week is going to see the war and the fallout from this week.  The only thing I’m sad about is that the group won’t know of Merle’s exact actions.  It might force some more fight out of them.  It will also be interesting to see what becomes of Daryl now.  His whole motivation this season was it’s my brother, I want to be with him and know that this is over what becomes of his emotions and his way of doing things.  Bring on the war and hopefully a good season ender.  Oh, also the death of Andrea.

Review by Bryan Lasky

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Melancholia is a true cinematic achievement in every way. Great acting, original story, and some of the best cinematography I have ever seen. I am going to be brutally honest in this review and I am going to try my best and not sugar coat anything in the review. Lars Von Trier is kind of a madman, he has all of this creativity to put forth into his movies but he has this public persona that just destroys his image in the public eye. Its really never a good idea to say that Adolf Hitler was misunderstood, that statement is not going to get you a lot of positive press. He has created a fully realized alternate reality in this movie and he never truly gives the viewer a full explanation of the events that are transpiring and that is what keeps you going while watching the movie because that is part of the mystery with the movie. The movie concerns itself more with how impending doom effects people differently, not with how to prevent the event from actually happening. This is not Armageddon(The Michael Bay Production), this is the realistic take on the event if it were to actually occur.

Melancholia tells the story of Justine(Kirsten Dunst), who is a newly wed celebrating her wedding with her friends and family. Her sister, Claire(Charlotte Gainsbourg), and Claire's husband(Kiefer Sutherland) throw Justine a huge wedding reception at their mansion and we learn that Justine has some type of bipolar disorder. She seems content at the start of the movie but you see her as her mood disintegrates and she is left as a heap at a point in the movie. She has no handle on her emotions and can barely keep her actions in check as well. Her husband, Michael(Alexander Skarsgard), is a caring and nice individual and thinks that he can manage Justine's constant bouts of depression. Over the course of the night he comes to realize that he will never be able to enjoy his life with her because she will never be happy and affectionate. At the end of the first act we learn that a planet, Melancholia, had been "hiding" behind the sun and it is now moving in an orbit towards the Earth and may or may not be on a collision course with it. .

The second act deals with how each main character deals with this impending "fly by" or collision. Justine is convinced that Melancholia will hit the Earth and seems to be at complete ease with this idea. She feels that no one will miss the Earth because there is no other life in the universe. She also at points seems to welcome the event as a way to escape her emotional pain. John is in complete denial that Melancholia may hit the Earth. He is an expert astronomer and is certain that the planet will just pass by and it will just be a great show. Claire is the most fascinating to me personally because you see this woman who is desperate to hang on to life and will fight in anyway that she can to try and save the people that she loves. At points she comes off as irrational and hysterical but it is how a normal person would act when faced with the fact that another planet is going to obliterate Earth in several days maybe even hours. She is the balance between the characters of Justine and John. In the beginning she accepts John explanations and believes that they will be fine and then comes to realize that the Earth is doomed. The only difference between her and Justine is that she never gives up where Justine gave up a long time ago. The movie does not build suspense in terms of the impending destruction of Earth because we know that it is coming from the first four minutes of the movie, which are comprised of slow motion shots of the main characters inter-cut with shots of Melancholia getting closer and closer to the Earth and then finally hitting the Earth and destroying it.

Dunst gives a great performance in the movie and that is a great accomplishment because her character is unlikable in almost every way possible. She fights with almost every character in the movie, she is thankless, and she spits in the face of people trying to cope with the end of the world. She seems to only be able to get along with her nephew and he is the only one that she tries to protect. She cheats on her husband the night of their wedding and won't have a glass of wine with her sister right before the world ends because her sister wants to be with her family when Melancholia hits Earth. Justine is a mostly emotionally devoid character and has no fight in her whatsoever. She accepts death as a gift from Melancholia and even bathes naked in its light at night at one point in the film. She is a truly unhinged character but engaging none the less. Gainsbourg is mostly unknown to American audiences unless you have seen Antichrist, which is another Lars Von Trier movie. Antichrist was one the hardest movies for me to sit through. The amount of brutally graphic scenes in that movie was staggering and it not like seeing a gory horror movie, it was like seeing someone being actually killed and tortured in front of you. She is a revelation in this movie, you can see her as she goes through all of the different stages of grief. You see her in denial, acceptance and all of the stages in between. She has to try and hold herself together for the benefit of her son and her sister. Her sister is part of her problem because she spends so much time taking care of Justine and not enough time taking care of herself. Gainsbourg plays her to perfection and deserves some credit from the major award academies.

This was the most striking movie I have seen this year and was certainly one of the most unforgettable. From a pure film making and performance standpoint this is the best movie that I have seen to this point in the year. It is not the best overall movie, which still goes to Hanna in my opinion, because this is a movie that is hard to actually enjoy. Dunst and Gainsbourg kill it in this movie and I am really happy that this movie was not as graphic as Antichrist. If you want to see a movie that is great but happens to also be one of the most unenjoyable movies of all time due to the subject matter, then Antichrist is for you. Melancholia deserves a 10/10 due to the great performances and awe inspiring cinematography.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Friends, please DO NOT call this a comeback for Jim Carrey, the man only appears in a good 5 brief scenes throughout this magician mess...too much time spent with Carrel & Buscemi as kids.., many dry scenes between the two as they're partners in their show...Olivia Wilde is wasted as Jane, third partner & love interest for Burt Wonderstone...yet she's a work of art & I love her. Alan Arkin was a treat in the film, but couldn't save this one folks, you won't be amazed by this one. 2 jack rabbits in a hat out of 5

Review by Sean Snyder

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Lego City Undercover (Wii U)

Amidst the shipping controversy with Nintendo, we were able to trek out & snag a copy of Traveller's Tales latest gem, Lego City Undercover (I will explain the controversy later, I PROMISE. Well, Wii U owners, it looks like we finally have our next big must own title to coincide with New Super Mario U & Zombi U...Lego has a sweet tie-in separate from the rest of past sandbox titles (Just Cause, GTA, Saints Row, etc) You play as Chase McCain, or John McClane for you Die Hard freaks out a city overloaded to the brim with the crimes of Rex fury, the city's delinquent since he was a tyke...voiced by familiar actors who bring this city plenty of life to get a fondness for. The writing is witty/funny, plenty of movie references (Titanic, Dirty Harry, Starsky & Hutch, etc), driving/platforming mechanics are both tight, doesn't have a tacked on feeling like past titles in this genre. The city itself is the real star of the show, in full HD, & bright as can be...a lot of life within this city...& easy to explore as you encounter the various memorable characters along the way. Closing statements:  Simple story, yet a big, full city with NY, San Francisco, Alcatraz homages within this gem. 8/10

+ Big, beautiful open world a departure from most that are usually violent/gritty
+ Witty writing, movie references, & sound effects litter the city
+ Tons of unlockables & abilities for Chase to unlock with use of different outfits (Lego Batman)
+ Finally a Lego title not hindered by a license that they HAVE to be faithful to
+ Smart, non intrusive uses of the Wii U Gamepad

- Lack of music in cars/vehicles during missions/free ride
- While collecting Lego pieces is fun, it can be distracting if you're one of those people attempting to grab every piece
- Bad load times

Review by Sean Snyder

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Following- "Love Hurts"

I didn't get a chance to write a wrap up for last week's episode, "Welcome Home", but I will say that it was one of the best episodes of the series to date. The idea of Weston getting captured and tortured was portrayed in pretty brutal fashion. The "game" that he had to play was sick and twisted but the good thing that came out of it was that we can now confirm that he is not a follower. Roderick is also becoming an even more major player in the series thanks to role as Joe's right hand man and he might actually be the brains behind the entire operation with Joe being more of a figurehead. I love this show because every week there is a new series of questions that pop up and the show keeps you guessing.

This week's episode, "Love Hurts", is one intense episode to say the least. It seems like each new episode ups the stakes just a little bit more than the previous one. This episode truly shows that no one is safe from the wrath of Joe and his followers. There is a special type of evil that is present in this episode with any person named Claire Matthews potentially being targeted for death. Just another wrinkle in Joe's master plan and the introduction of a new "follower", who is truly a deranged killer, is a welcome addition to the cast.

Seeing Jacob and Paul was great and then it quickly turned sour. Paul has been in horrible shape for a few episodes, ever since Ryan stabbed him five or six times in the gut. At this point his wounds are badly infected and even with proper medical treatment he still probably would not have made it. We did get a glimpse into their early experiences together where Paul killed a woman with Jacob watching and Paul covered up the fact that Jacob had never seen anyone killed and had not killed anyone as well.  Paul called in that favor by asking Jacob to kill him because he wanted his life to mean something, and with his death he has finally allowed Jacob to become what he had wanted to be, a killer.

Blondie McBitchface, if you know who I am talking about then you are definitely a fan of the show, also made an appearance this week and learned that you do not fuck with Ryan Hardy. She called his bluff and she got capped for it, better luck next time. The follower of the week looked like she could have been around for a while but she fell into the cross hairs of Hardy and most people who get in that spot don't stay around for long. Roderick and Emma had limited screen time this week but their interaction was pretty priceless. It was great to see someone finally call out Emma for leaving Paul and Jacob behind and fucking Joe.

I am loving this show more and more every week. As the show embraces the inherent ridiculousness of its concept it seems to get better and better. This week actually had the FBI seeming like they know what they are doing and by balancing realism with craziness the show is starting to stabilize and become consistently great. This is a must see show on a weekly basis and is the best show currently on TV until Game of Thrones debuts its new season.

The Walking Dead- "Prey"

An Andrea-centric episode that didn’t make me hate the character more than I already did.  This was a good push to get the character back into the good graces of the audience.
The opening was a stand-alone flashback that didn’t really have much to do with the rest of the episode.  It showed that Michonne and Andrea survived the winter and that they were close with one another, but I wish it would have done more.

From here we get Milton, who had a great episode, trying to stop The Governor from going to war.  We see that The Governor has built a torture chamber for when he gets his hands on Michonne.  Milton shows this to Andrea who asks the question, “How can you still be loyal to this man?”  This is the question we have been asking ourselves endlessly throughout the season.  How does anyone stay loyal to this man?  Andrea does get a chance to end it, but Milton shows a lasting act of loyalty to the Governor here and stops her.  It was a nice scene and I think Milton really does feel loyal to him no matter what happens.  After this Andrea decided to leave town and this is really where the episode gets going this week.  There is a sense as the episode goes on that Milton may have reached his breaking point with The Governor.

Andrea gets past Tyreese and Sasha after talking to them for a bit, but this leads to them telling The Governor what took place.  Tyreese the whole episode wants to do nothing but what he feels is best for everyone.  He becomes more wary of everything going on in Woodbury starting with this interaction with Andrea.  Going to where the zombies are held only makes it worse.  He knows this isn’t how people should be treating each other in these times.  The fact that the father and son want to stay in Woodbury whereas Sasha and Tyreese want to leave makes Tyreese apologize later on to The Governor and say they want to be a part of life there.  I really hope Tyreese makes it out of the war that is to come because he has such a potential to become a great addition to the cast.

Onto Andrea and The Governor’s cat and mouse chase that made this episode wonderful.  Once Andrea leaves Woodbury, she is on her own trying to get to the prison.  She gets a few nice zombie kills before having to start running from The Governor and his truck across a barren field with no place to hide.  The chase leads them to a warehouse to see how well she can hide from him.  The Governor, creepily whistling and telling her to come home, is at his best in these scenes.  Finally he has had enough and finally lets the crazy out.  This is The Governor I’ve been waiting to see.  There is some fantastic zombie killing within the warehouse.  Finally they meet in the warehouse, and with nowhere to turn to, Andrea makes the decision of letting a hoard of zombies on The Governor and hightails it out of the building.  You can see she almost goes back once or twice, but finally opts to go away from him.  Just as she is about to call out to Rick at the prison, The Governor stops her and takes her back to Woodbury.  I think in these last few episodes The Governor is going to stick to his crazier and irrational ways, which is the best thing they could do for this character.

This was another good set up for the destruction to come by the end of this season and gave all characters involved a nice piece of the story.  I expect a lot of people turning on The Governor and possibly leads to many deaths to come for some characters we have learned to love this season.  Here’s hoping Tyreese and Milton make it out, while Martinez, The Governor, and Andrea don’t get so lucky.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Age of Ultron: Book Two

For the second week in a row Brian Michael Bendis and Bryan Hitch knocked it out of the park. I love not knowing exactly how we got to the point shown in the comic and it adds a nice little extra layer of mystery to everything that is happening. I will say that they need to start slowly shedding light on those events to prevent from people dropping this event. This book also sets the stage for what looks to be the beginning of our heroes going from survival mode to Resistance mode.  The art is top notch in this issue again and Hitch is showing, when given time, that he is the best artist in the industry.

Book Two turns its focus to the west coast of the United States specifically Los Angeles, where we follow the exploits of Moon Knight and Black Widow. These are two of the best characters in the Marvel Universe and it was very cool to see them working in tandem. The Ultron takeover has not been particularly kind to Black Widow as she has lost the use of one of her eyes and been left with a pretty nasty looking scar on her face. Moon Knight seems to be one of the only characters who is actually thriving in this series, and he seems to no longer be plagued by his multiple personalities.  He and Black Widow have the singular goal of killing Ultron and do not care if they die in the process. There isn't much action in this chapter but we do see them hiding out in one of Nick Fury's old hideouts and they discover a wall of photos that he had compiled right before the Skrull Invasion. It is great when we see little things pop up from the recent past. It is also worth pointing out that they are completely cut off from the other heroes. There are no planes or teleportation devices in this story, so they are going to have to find help from heroes on their coast.

The book then transitions to the point where we left off last week with the main group of surviving heroes questioning the newly rescued Spider-Man. We see the start of the Ultron attacks from his perspective but it still leads to a lot more questions than answers. He doesn't even have a clue what happened, so how are we. The last page reveal got me giddy for where the series is going to go. I am pretty sure that Spider-Man's actually "identity" is purposely muddled here because there has been a major change in his own series that came about after the concept for this series had already been fleshed out. We are not completely sure if we are seeing the Peter Parker of old or the "Superior" Otto Octavius version but that is a very minor problem in what is turning out to be a fantastic event.

This is a book that is essential reading for every Marvel fan Book Three comes out next week so hurry up and start reading this event already. What Marvel is doing with most of their line up has been fantastic and it is amazing that they are putting out so many high quality titles on a weekly basis.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Dummy of the Week: Kim Jong-un

For a lot of you that have known me for a long time know that I am not a person who follows politics. I have also ended my personal ban on political post for one special person, Kim Jong-un. I firmly believe that he got hopped up on Mountain Dew one night while watching the new Red Dawn and suddenly thought it would be a great idea to throw out some big time threats towards the United States. Looks like someone got caught thinking that Red Dawn could ever fucking happen. It is hard to believe that he thinks North Korea can roll with the big dogs when they can't even put food in the mouths of the majority of the people in their country. He should start focusing on saving his people instead of worrying about potentially shooting nuclear weapons at everyone. It is such a hollow threat that it is becoming a fucking joke. North Korea has burned every possible relationship that they had once had, when China supported the sanctions on them is when it spelled doom for them.

I absolutely have no desire to see another war break out between North and South Korea, but if it did it would be one short war. DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea AKA North Korea) would receive nothing in terms of support and have no real means of obtaining anything to help themselves in a prolonged conflict. It would be one of the most embarrassing things to be witnessed by the world. The baby faced piece of shit leader of the craziest country on Earth better smarten up or his country is going to get curb stomped. I don;t think many countries would feel anything when they see that country burn to the ground and it would all be because Kim Jong-un thinks he is a god. Is it weird that I hope he gets killed in public, so the world can witness it? It might be fucked up to say, but its what I feel. This dummy should stay in his room and jerk off to Red Dawn and leave the world alone.

My final message for Kim Jong-un is this, go suck a bag of dicks you mouth breathing dummy.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Walking Dead- “Arrow on the Doorpost”

Another week, another great opening sequence.  Not knowing what Rick, Daryl and Hershel are looking for is a wonderful build up to finally see The Governor come and say to Rick, “ We've got a lot to talk about.”  The quiet tension of the quick scene set up a fantastic episode.The episode is one long negotiation between Rick and The Governor with small look-ins to the other characters.  Let’s look at the meeting between our two main characters.  The Governor tries to get Rick to a sense of calm by saying no weapons are needed, but of course as per the usual, The Governor has one hiding.  Guns don’t come into play between them, but the tension is always there for it to happen at any moment.  Andrea comes in fairly early to the negotiations and we learn that she set everything up.  It was very predictable that she would be the one to set it all up, and it was nice that she was kicked out rather quickly from the talk so the two of them could continue.  She could have only made a tense situation worse.  She doesn't belong in the talks.  More on her later though.

The back and forth between the two of them the remainder of the episode was for the most part great.  Rick coming right out of the gates with an idea for peace: splitting the land up.  This seemed like a good solution, but of course The Governor just wants a full surrender.  He has an ego he needs continue to booster and this would only look like a loss.  The Governor’s tale of his wife’s fate was a nice look into what could have started the beginning of his darker side to come out was great.  The Governor also revealing he knows of Rick’s run to get guns and get prepared for a war was a nice piece of information to try and get Rick to surrender was another sly move to try and win this discussion.  Nothing seemed to faze Rick until The Governor told him all he wants is Michonne and everyone else stays safe.  This was on Rick’s mind for the remainder of the episode.  His talk with Hershel at the end was a nice look into how far Michonne has come into the group and how hard it is for Rick to still lead this group of people he now calls a family.

Onto Andrea and her relentless quest of becoming the most hated character in television.  The writers just do not want to help her out.  Having her being the one to set up the meeting was predictable.  Then continuously asking for peace between the two is also just so hard to watch.  How she could still root for The Governor at all is beyond me.  Her talk with Hershel was good because she realizes that she cannot keep going back to Woodbury, but still she leaves with them as the episode ends.  The whole season screams for a redemption arc for the character, but can we get to it already.  I’m tired of the show screwing this up.
The dynamic between Hershel and Milton, as well as Daryl and Martinez were nice.  Some human emotion is good every now and then for this show.  Milton writing everything down because all of this is going to be history one day was great in my opinion.  Someone at least is hoping that there will be a future where all of this is going to be read by people like we read of history now.  Someone’s got to do it, right?  His and Hershel’s joking around was nice to see.  Also the “who can kill a zombie better” game between Daryl and Martinez was funny.  Some great kills in this short sequence.  What followed was a short conversation by the two “enforcers” of the factions knowing full well that they could work well together, but in the end that war will come and they will have to face off against one another.

Finally the few scenes in the jail were a good distraction from the meeting of Rick and The Governor.  Merle knowing that The Governor should be taken out if the chance is given and trying to get the group to realize that is nice.  No one listens, but Merle is the only one talking sense here for once.  Glenn and Maggie finally getting back together was good to see too.  I don’t think Maggie is completely over what happened in Woodbury, but this is a start.  Glenn is slowly being turned into a leader when Rick isn't around, and he wears it nicely.

This episode was all about the emotions that everyone is feeling, as well the choices they make based on those emotions.  War is coming and this was a good episode to set it all up.  There are only a few episodes left, but I think this season is going to end perfectly.  There are going to be some surprising deaths, hopefully some good zombie killing, and god willing, Andrea will kill The Governor, and maybe die in the process so the writers are released from their hatred of this character.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Dead Man Down

The first three months of the year are clearly turning into movie studio’s dumping grounds for movies that they have no idea what to do with. 99% of movies released within this time frame should probably have been released straight to DVD but you need to put something in the theaters. Dead Man Down happens to have fallen into the category of being a “dump movie”. It looks like no one knew what to do with this movie.

Dead Man Down follows the revenge driven lives of Victor (Colin Farrell) and Beatrice (Noomi Repace). Victor is seeking to kill his boss, Alphonse (Terrance Howard) that ruined his once happy life Beatrice seeks retribution for being permanently scarred in a car crash. They are each looking to become whole again and their journeys inevitably collide with explosive and deadly results.  

Colin Farrell and Noomi Repace are the lynchpins of the entire movie, without their performances it would turn into a horrible mess. I am so pumped that Farrell has finally decided to start trying over the past few years, after seeing him I such debacles as Pride and Glory and Miami Vice. Repace is excellent as usual and continues to prove that she can be a major force in Hollywood for the foreseeable future. I also wanted to say that no matter how ugly they tried to make her look in the movie, she still came out looking sexy.
The action scenes are pretty intense and realistic which is always a great thing. I loved the fact that Farrell wasn't portrayed as a one man army, and he needed to be planning ahead of his targets to even have a chance of being successful.  Niels Oplev proved that his success as a director was not only limited to the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It is going to be interesting to see what he will be able to do with a well written script in the future.

As good as the two leading performances in this movie were, the secondary performances were incredibly weak and poorly written. Terrance Howard was there to get a check and he never seemed like he was fully invested in his character, he came off a bit wooden in every scene that he was in. Dominic Cooper shows up and plays a “cartoonish” up and coming gangster, whose storyline was flat from the very beginning of the movie.

The screenwriter of this movie must have gone to the George Lucas School for Dialogue because it was on about the same level as the Star Wars prequels. Repace and Farrell did a great job with what they were given but the other actors didn’t step their game up to compensate for the shit quality of the dialogue. With a better screenplay, this movie could have been very good, but it ended up getting dumped in an early March release date against Oz the Great & Powerful.

This is an above average revenge movie that got very good performances from its two lead actors. Check it out if you are looking for a more adult oriented movie as opposed to the new Oz movie that just released from Disney.  

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Age of Ultron: Book One

Just going to throw a quick review up for the first issue of Age of Ultron. This is one of the first comics to come along in some time that is worth really discussing. Brian Michael Bendis has created some of the most memorable events in Marvel history but this is shaping up to be the biggest of them all. We get a glimpse into a world of what it would be like if the villains really won and their only goal was to wipe out every living organism on the planet. Ultron is is terrifying in the respect that he has no emotions and is willing to eradicate everything, no questions asked.

This issue focuses on Hawkeye's desperate attempt to rescue Spider-Man, who has been taken hostage by a group of criminals. There is no introduction to what has happened, we are simply thrown into the situation. And for those of you thinking this is a bad thing you would be wrong, it is fucking awesome. We get to see a much more hardened version of Hawkeye that has no qualms about killing people who pose a threat to him. He is written very similar to Ultimate Hawkeye, who was written by Mark Millar. He kills at least 5-6 people before he gets to Spider-Man (Superior version). Spider-Man has just been brutalized and we see that the strongest of heroes can fall when we hear that Thor is no longer able to "help". We later get a glimpse of the resistance which consists of Iron Man, She-Hulk, Luke Cage, Wolverine, Emma Frost, Beast, and Captain America. They are willing to throw Hawkeye out simply because he refused to leave Spider-Man to rot. It is a stark contrast to the Marvel Universe we are used to where no one is left behind.

I have a few theories about what is going to happen during the event and I'll talk about them at length at another time. I will however talk about the art in this book. Holy Shit, Bryan Hitch has definitely gotten better over time. This is some of the most polished his visuals have ever been. A lot of people are complaining about the blur effect but it works perfectly with what is going on in the scene. He needs to be on a monthly book at this point. The only way for him to effectively do it is to draw everything six months in advance because he is one of the slower artists in the industry. If they could get a good timetable for him he would become a legend in the industry.

I am behind this event 100% and I have faith that is only going to get better from this point forward. This is a fantastic opening issue and every comic fan should be looking to pick this up as soon as possible. Don't wait too long, issue two comes out next Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Following- "Let Me Go"

To be perfectly honest, at this point I have no clue where this show is going to go in terms of story. I am perfectly fine with that because I want to keep guessing and be surprised at the insane twists and turns the series has to offer. We had Joe break out of prison, Ryan about to choke and bitch slap the warden of the prison and we even got little Joey being a hero. The shift in tone from dark and gloomy to just insanity is awesome and opens up an endless amount of possibilities for this show.

We all knew that Joe Carroll wasn't going to be staying in prison for the duration of the season. As soon as I heard that he was going to be transferred, it spelled the end of his time behind bars. I love that we finally got to see an unleashed version of Joe, who has no intention of going back to prison. James Purefoy is creating one of the most menacing characters in television history and we are only in the first half of season one of the show. Carroll never flinches, even when his plan is obviously not going his way but he always seems to get help out of nowhere from some pretty generic "followers". The lady with the straight razor was a bit over the top, even for this over the top series.

It is starting to shape up that Carroll handles the group of "followers" (killers) and Roderick is handling the "militant" section of the cult. What I mean by that is the people who are not serial killers or there to die for Joe but are connected to the various government agencies so they can protect the cult. Just a new theory for the show. This is going to be interesting when we actually get to meet Roderick and see what his motives are for helping Carroll. The reach of this group is astounding and it wouldn't surprise me if the President of the United States is a "follower" at this point.

Ryan needs to be more like he was in last week's episode, using his smarts and believing in his training. When he is on a role he is pretty much unstoppable because he gets in people's heads and just fucks with them, like he did with Paul and Jacob. Speaking of Paul and Jacob, has Paul bled out yet? Dude got stabbed like 5 times in the stomach and is in some serious trouble. Ryan  needs to stop acting like a little pussy when around Claire and he needs to start trying to get in front of the cult's plans so he can catch them before they do some more fucked up stuff.

I do love where this show is going but they do need to start having the police and FBI agents in this show act with some type of logic. The dumber they get, the more it is going to detract from the fun of the show. Other than some gaps in logic, this was a solid episode and I can't wait to see where the show goes over the next two months.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Walking Dead- “Clear”

I would first like to say that I love The Walking Dead.  I have read the comics and watched the series so far.  I love that they are different, but at the same time I get angry at some of the choices the television show makes.  I just wanted this out there before the review.

This week was one of the better episodes in a long time.  Everything about it worked.  From the great short opening sequence to an old character returning to a nice pairing that I wouldn't have thought would work at first.  Spoilers follow for those who want to continue. The opening sequence gave us insight into how much Rick has decided it is us against everyone else.  Right from the get go, you could tell by how Michonne and Carl were being focused on in the car ride that this was going to be a big episode for them.  Also the little bit of zombie tension was nice to see as well.   This scene only made me wish there was more of a budget so we could see some more zombie deaths, but hopefully the budget will be wisely used later in the season.Rick, Carl, and Michonne got to their destination, which was the town that that Rick, Lori, and Carl were living in before the zombie apocalypse occurred.  Their main purpose of being there was to get all of the weapons from the police station that Rick had left behind.   They did a great job of making the town into a post apocalyptic waste land.  From here the episode really took shape.  Our group was yelled at and then shot at by a masked man.  Carl, who has really grown up this season, was the one to take this masked man down, not killing him, but knocking him out.  The reveal of Morgan, the man who saved Rick’s life in the pilot episode, was a great call back.

There were really two stories here this week. One was Carl and Michonne growing as characters, while the other was Rick and Morgan talking about what has been going on and trying to move forward from it.  Let’s focus on Carl and Michonne first. Carl and Michonne teaming up is great.  It gives Michonne a chance to be trusted in Rick’s eyes, and hopefully he’ll be able to accept her as a friend finally.  Carl is not yet the badass he thinks he is and should listen to those who want to help him.  Finally Michonne gets through to Carl and they go about helping one another through the cafĂ©, where Carl is getting something to bring back home. She was really brought to life in this episode.  Fans have been angry with just seeing her chopping zombie heads off and just being a general badass.  They want to see the wise cracking Michonne.  They want to see the relatable Michonne.  I hope this is a turn for this character.  Carl is also someone who has become a bit better after this episode.  He finally accepted he can’t do everything on his own, but also, with a word from Morgan, sees that if he has to pull a trigger, he should just do it without feeling bad about it.

Morgan showing up at all was a great surprise.  He has obviously been having a hard time since we saw him last.  Michonne is a great voice of reason when we first meet Morgan, but Rick’s heart is just too big and stupid sometimes for his own good, which is shown as soon as Morgan wakes up and tries to kill Rick.  We learn, through one of the best speeches given in this season that Morgan’s wife, whom he should have killed, since she was a zombie, ended up killing his son.  Rick ends up offering Morgan a spot in the jail, but Morgan unfortunately declines.  I wish Morgan would have become a regular on the show, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be.  Rick gives one of his better speeches to Morgan to try and convince him to come.  The scenes between these two are some of the best of the season so far.

Overall this season has been giving us better material then last season, but this episode is really a high point so far.  There was some great character development and one good unfinished plot tied up nicely.  The drive away from the town gave me some hope going forward that the characters will keep the new traits they have acquired this episode and finish up this season strong.

Bryan Lasky