Comic Book Reviews 12-04-13

Burn the Orphanage - Born to Lose #2, our pick of the week
Burn the Orphanage – Born to Lose #2, our pick of the week

Pick of the Week:

Burn the Orphanage: Born to Lose #2 (DC Comics) – A

It’s about time we had a fun, over the top Jean-Claude Vanne Dammey comic come out. Full of total guy nerd references and comedy, this over-the-top book is about a local hero who has extracted revenge on the man who burned down the orphanage he lived in as a kid. It might feel like a rip off of 90’s nerdom, but that’s because it is – and the creators have no shame in admitting that. The character looks just like Ken from Street Fighter and he is entered into a Mortal Kombat-style tourney in another realm. Independent comics are still alive and well here in this unapologetically witty and fun book, and that’s what should make you want to keep coming back.

Other Reviews:

Action Comics #26 (DC Comics) – B-

Finally, an enjoyable Superman title that isn’t carried by the best tag team in comics (Superman: Unchained). With Lana Lang in danger, Superman must try to rescue her and the other civilians in the area from a giant monster dog thing. It’s more than meets the eye when we realize that maybe the monster isn’t the alien after all. Superman gets frustrated with the civilians and the military for attacking the alien instead of being the unwavering Blue Boy Scout. It’s a change that’s pretty enjoyable to see in the Superman comics.

Amazing Spiderman #700.1 (Marvel Comics) B+

Amazing Spiderman #700.1 is a reversion back to the Steve Ditko and Stan Lee’s classic comic series. It is been a year since the “superior” Spiderman murdered Peter Parker, so his homecoming is much welcomed! I was thrilled to see David Morrell as the writer on this project, not only because his novel First Blood was transformed into the blockbuster Rambo movie franchise, but for his writing for 2007’s Captain America series: Chosen, which I thoroughly enjoyed. This Spidey book entitled “Frost” and follows the emotional and physical struggles of a young man gifted with incredible abilities after a science experiment gone terribly wrong. He seems more civil-servant than flashy superhero. This has always been the draw to Spiderman. In the early days he found himself more of a policeman walking a beat than he did A-lister superhero. Klaus Johnson’s artwork only contributes to this nostalgic feel, bringing a scene of Spiderman saving a gondola off the 59th Street Bridge to life. Reading this book took me back to a simpler time when superheroes felt closer to home. This book has everything the old-school Spidey fan loves, J.J. Jameson, Aunt May and an ordinary kid given extraordinary powers.

Amazing X-Men #2 (Marvel Comics) – B-

After the revelation of the debut issue that Nightcrawler is alive… kinda, this issue shows our X-Men being sucked into heaven and hell. It was a good issue, with Iceman’s humor really stealing the show. The book reads a little slow, as Nightcrawler is constantly narrating what the pictures explain, and describe teammates like Wolverine and Storm like you’ve never heard of them before. Not a whole lot was explained story-wise, but we can guess that the team isn’t in a good place when they were transported. With Nightcrawler poised to make a move on his father, Azazel, the next issue is sure to be a little more exciting.

Batman/Superman #6 (DC Comics) – C-

All bets are off: the heroes are being controlled by videogame players (really, who wouldn’t want to do that?), the entire comic is in landscape format (really, who would want to do that?) and Batman has a freakin’ hole in his chest. What began as a well-crafted story with freakishly good art from Jae Lee has become a jumbled mess of a book. While the Toymaker angle is interesting, there’s nothing cohesive enough to call this book “good.”

Deadpool #20 (Marvel Comics) – F

Oh, good. For a second there, I was worried that the Deadpool book had standards. Silly me. After a sincere and comical story arc had finished about the Weapons X program in North Korea, they drop this trash about Deadpool shooting and blowing up inter-galactic monsters in Wakanda. In 90’s print. For no damn reason. Growing up, Deadpool had always been the mischievous, “do what I want” misunderstood merc with a mouth. With the success he has garnered in pop culture, it seems writers are literally willing to do whatever they want. It’s not cute, and I don’t even think that every die-hard Poolians (I just made that up) should give this series a shot anymore.

Green Arrow #26 (DC Comics) – B

Thanks to the CW’s Arrow, Oliver Queen and company have enjoyed some much deserved attention in the comics. Throw in tremendously talented writer Jeff Lemire and artist Andrea Sorrentino, and you have the next face of your brand. The start of the Outsiders War arc was not full of action, but full of ambiance. Arrow’s return to the island was charged with emotion as he reflects on his time there. It’s looking like this arc is gearing up to be fun and exciting.

Indestructible Hulk: Annual #1 (Marvel Comics) – B-

Ever since Tony Stark and Bruce Banner teamed up for S.H.I.E.L.D its been non stop action. Banner is motivated by a desire to repair his reputation as the world’s leading scientist and not a raging green monster, while Stark is motivated by…whatever motivates a genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist. The pair run errands for the clandestine organization and we are thankful for it.  Indestructible, penciled by Mahmud Asrar is filled with epic battle panels with Iron-Man and Hulk. If this buddy-cop match up is one you’ve been waiting for, Indestructible Hulk won’t disappoint.

Inhumanity #1 (Marvel Comics) – B+

Every Marvel event comes with a certain level of gravity. The world, galaxy or universe is always in danger and it’s the duty of our heroes to sacrifice and blah blah blah – sound familiar? This story, though, has an awesome feel to it. Unless you read or saw the animated version of Inhumans, you would not know that Inhumans are awakened through Terrigen Mists that activate super powers in normal humans. Karnak walks readers through the story of Black Bolt and what the fall of Attilan has to do with Thanos. It’s an epic event in the Marvel U that actually deserves the description.

Marvel Knights: X-Men #2 (Marvel Comics) – B-

With all the complicated twists and turns of the other X-books, it’s nice to see a book go to the simplest of times. Knights debut ended with Wolverine finding his buddy Sabretooth in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. Continuing the story, which had a very pulpy, Scooby-Dooish vibe, we find another lonely and confused mutant with the ability to project memories (good thing this wasn’t a teenage boy). It has a bit of social commentary that has been absent in X-Men recently. This is definitely a short series worth checking out.

Superior Spiderman #23 (Marvel Comics) – B

Man, just when you think you can get used to Octavius as Spiderman, he pulls a major jerk move and messes with our pal Flash Thompson AKA Venom. We saw him go too far with his black & white justice approach with Cardiac earlier in the series, and now he’s really fighting with fire, tricking Flash into undergoing surgery to help him walk again, but extracting the Venom symbiote from Flash altogether, who now has Darth Maul legs. Once free, it latches onto the most suitable host in the room. I’m pretty excited to see how Otto thinks he can get himself out of this one, if he even wants to.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Micro-Series (The Shredder) #8 (IDW Comics) – C

When you really think about it, Oroku Saki aka The Shredder never really talks. I mean, he never really has to. A few speeches about how much he hates Splinter and the turtles or how disappointed he is in the Foot, sure, but when it comes to actually talking, it just doesn’t happen. This whole issue focuses on Shredder’s journey through the after-life, which is on its own, pretty entertaining and well-drawn. However, his lack of personality really put a damper on what could be a pretty cool Japanese folklore-based story.

Terminator: Salvation – The Final Battle #1 (Dark Horse Comics) – B+

This Terminator comic begins almost exactly like the first three terminator movies. Human and Terminator alike come back in time, Terminator kills people for clothes and the human runs from the police. The story fluctuates between the present day timeline and the future of 2029. Being a continuation of the movie, it is actually necessary that you watch the film in order to understand who a few characters are. That being said I am very excited to see where they take this series. Being a major fan of the series, I am very interested to see how they finally end the saga.

Trillium #5 (Vertigo Comics) – A-

The dimensions of a comic book page are 6-7/8″ x 10-1/2″ and Jeff Lemire seems to fill up every square inch with quality work. Issue #5 is split horizontally into two stories, read from opposite ends of the book to give the impression of two different stories. Swapped places in time and space, Billy and Nika are losing their minds trying to figure out how they got there. Right off the bat, things are out of place. There will be nobody named Clayton in the future of outer space; I simply refuse to believe it. I don’t know where this wild ride is going, but we have three issues to save the world and get these star-crossed lovers back to each other.

Velvet #2 (Image Comics) – B+

James Bond meets La Femme Nikita in this spy thriller. Only two issues in and we are uncovering a web of lies and a screw job within a secret government organization. Full of action and espionage, the second issue digs a bit deeper. Velvet boasts a strong female lead and a deep storyline to explore. If you haven’t picked up on Velvet yet, I strongly suggest getting into this spy thriller.

Funniest Panel of the Week:

Bobby breaks the ice in Amazing X-Men #2
Bobby breaks the ice in Amazing X-Men #2

Epic Panel of the Week:

The real Peter Parker saves  the day in Amazing Spiderman #700.1
The real Peter Parker saves the day in Amazing Spiderman #700.1

Cover of the Week:

TMNT Villain Micro-Series #8, written by Paul Allor and drawn by Dan Duncan
TMNT Villain Micro-Series #8, written by Paul Allor and drawn by Dan Duncan

That about wraps it up for our reviews this week! Look for next week’s previews coming soon. Any comic books you didn’t see reviewed that you want reviewed? Any grades you didn’t agree on? Let us know in the comments!

All images taken from ComiXology app and the credit for them goes to the respective publishers; thanks to IDW Comics, image Comics, Dark Horse, DC and Marvel for putting out great books.

Written by Sherif Elkhatib, John Soweto and Robert Michael

Comic Book Reviews 11-27-13

Pick of the Week:

Black Science #1 (image Comics) – A

It’s only been one issue, but I’m already invested in this sci-fi thriller. I have no idea what the hell is going on, but I don’t think our main character, Grant, does either. The Black Science, I correlate to be like Black Magic, but it pays more. The art is very fitting and the monologue is amazing. In an attempt to escape from the weird toad and fish people, Grant sends his team to some inter-species galactic war. I don’t know what’s going on and I love it. I’m super excited to see what happens next.

Other Reviews:

All New X-Men #19 (Marvel Comics) – D

In this issue, the original X-Men fight off a group of crazy religious zealots who are dedicated to killing mutants in the name of God. With brand new uniforms, a new art team (technically they did #18, but it still feels new) and a new villain, this issue carries almost zero momentum that has made this such an enjoyable book. Also, seemingly for no reason, Illyana AKA Magik is back together with the rest of the X Team after a huge falling out when she joined Cyclops’ team. There was a pretty crazy end scene where a feral (and bald) X-23 bears her teeth to Kitty Pryde, so we’ll see if this is somehow connected to the Murder World that takes place in Avengers Arena. All in all, though, a pretty bland book considering the caliber of the series thus far.

Aquaman #25 (DC Comics) – B-

If you’re not a fan of Aquaman, this issue probably will not sell it. Geoff Johns, in true Geoff Johns fashion, wraps up his tenure with Aquaman taking his place as King of Atlantis. The Dead King has been defeated for now. It might not seem like a big deal, but Johns took Aquaman from being the laughing stock of comic book fans to an almost-respected character in just two years. While I’m skeptical of anything that happens after this, the story immediately points to a new threat, carried into another Geoff Johns penned book, Justice League. I’d say this book is worth checking out if you’re at all curious about Aquaman or the end of Johns’ saga.

Avengers Arena #18 (Marvel Comics) – D

Murder World is finally closed. After seventeen issues full of mushy “let’s be friends” speeches, one of the characters sacrifices himself to save the rest of the characters. However, the biggest worry is what happens after they leave. Arcade, the madman behind the whole debacle, has uploaded the events of the superhero Hunger Games onto the web. What happens now? The issue, and series as a whole, wasn’t stellar in story or art, but the aftermath of the events that unfolded will be pretty interesting to see.

Damian: Son of Batman #2 (DC Comics) – C

When issue one ended, I was thoroughly confused as to how Bruce Wayne was waiting for Damian in the Bat Cave. Issue two clears that up, then expands on it a bit. It’s just done a bit too quickly. The oddest part of the series is that Damian, the grown man, sounds just like Damian, the ten year-old child. I was really hoping for some character development here. On the plus side, it seems that this story is fitting in nicely to explain the events of Batman #666 where Damian faces off with Professor Pyg. As an avid Batfan, I would recommend reading this book, as the art by Andy Kubert is amazing.

The Flash #25 (DC Comics) – C+

The Flash has been one of the best drawn books in DC’s catalog, and usually has held my interest through the storyline. So I figured that when they introduced a Batman: Zero Year crossover, it might be worth checking out. In some ways I was right, and in some I was wrong. While it was awesome to show what a good investigator he was, clashing with the hardened detectives of Gotham City, and meeting (and saving) Iris West to form a romantic relationship, I am just sick of DC changing origin stories for the sake of changing them. All of the changes feel bastardized and not the original stories they should be.

Hawkeye #14 (Marvel Comics) – B+

When Kate went her own separate way at the end of Hawkeye Annual #1, I was a bit confused on how the series would continue after that. This episode shows us that it would continue straight through to Kate’s personal life. As it has been the whole series, Hawkeye does a stupendous job of humanizing the characters, having fun the whole way there. It does get a little deeper at the end, when it is revealed that Madame Masque is the villain behind the whole ordeal. Hawkeye is a guaranteed good read, and this issue is no different – no matter your opinion on Hawkeye, the character.

Injustice: Gods Among Us #11 (DC Comics) – B+

Based on the awesome video game that released earlier in the year, Injustice has become more than a cash-grab “based off” series; it is one of the best alternate universe storylines in recent history. After Batman decides that Superman is too far off his rocker, he and a small group distract Superman and sneak into the Fortress of Solitude to steal a super-serum that Lex Luthor developed to even the playing field. Along the way, we lose two beloved characters. It’s a tragic, yet exciting take on the DC lore. NoteInjustice was actually released as a “Digital Only” series, with each printed issue consisting of three digital ones. So if you really liked this one, the finale issue is comprised of #34-36 and you can find them for $1 each on Comixology.

Kick Ass 3 #5 (Marvel Comics) – B

If you’ve ever seen Kick Ass, the movie, then you know what you’re getting yourself into. Believe me, the comics are way better. There’s less censorship as far as what the characters say and do, the costumes don’t look as ridiculous and there are tons of namedrops; it takes us less than four pages to get somebody to compare the 21st Century Robin Hoods to Omar from The Wire. With Dave finally getting a normal girlfriend, he seems to have abandoned his superhero team. They have bigger troubles, however, as Rocco puts a hit out on every single masked character, ending the issue in sad, disturbing fashion with the death of one of my favorite characters.

Saga #16 (image Comics) – B+

It seems like we’re finally picking back up steam here! Equipped with murder, lies and naked unicorn women, issue sixteen is a thoroughly fun ride the whole way through. We’re finally brought back to the events in #13, where Prince Robot IV is closing in on our favorite pair of space fugitives. There’s quite a bit of story going on here, especially the new development of the war correspondents that seem to have trouble coming their way soon. It’s hard not to recommend a book that kicks this much ass, month after month.

Superior Spiderman #22 (Marvel Comics) – C+

Since (SPOILER!) Otto Octavius has taken over Peter Parker’s body and carried the mantle of Spiderman… Wait! Don’t leave! It’s not as bad as it seems, I promise. Anyway, since Superior Spiderman has begun, all the quips and sarcasm that made Peter Parker our Spiderman have been replaced with techo-babble infused cold-hearted insults. More than twenty issues in, Otto finally begins to develop a personality, even falling in love, a storyline which is starting to make me like him again. But just when things get cozy again, his arrogance frustrates me even further, making a Flash Thompson-Spiderman confrontation way more annoying than epic.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #28 (IDW Comics) – A-

Last we left our turtles, the Foot had just unleashed Bebop & Rocksteady. While the rocker duo don’t really get the homecoming I had hoped for, there are plenty of other characters to help bring this issue to a close. The turtles manage to save Leonardo and break him from the brain-washing that the Foot had put him through, but by all means, he is still broken in every other way. One of my favorite conflicted villains also switches her attitude and saves their lives during the fight. And you can’t forget about Old Hob, Splash, April and Casey Jones. It was an entertaining and meaningful issue, albeit with no real conclusion to the threat at hand, that reminds me why I’m still in love with the heroes in a half-shell.

The Walking Dead #117 (IDW Comics) – A

When Negan and Lucille burst onto the scenes in The Walking Dead #100, he immediately become our enemy, killing off a beloved character in the most disturbing fashion of the entire series (which is sayin’ something). However, as time goes on, we realize that maybe Negan isn’t quite the Governor that we initially painted him to be. Through this episode, we find that Negan does indeed have a very strong moral compass, as does he want to be the leader of a strong community. It’s really shocking to learn this about one of Rick’s enemies, and it will serve to make Negan more complex of an adversary than we’ve ever seen in The Walking Dead. Bravo, Kirkman.

Funniest Panel of the Week:

D. Oswald Heist shares his deepest fears with us in Saga: Chapter 16
D. Oswald Heist shares his deepest fears with us in Saga: Chapter 16. I’m sure Fiona Staples had fun drawing this.

Epic Panel of the Week:

Our girl Alopex finally snaps on Shredder in TMNT #28
Our girl Alopex finally snaps on Shredder in TMNT #28

Cover of the Week:

TMNT #28 cover by the master, Kevin Eastman
TMNT #28 cover by the master, Kevin Eastman

That about wraps it up for our reviews this week. We hope you had fun stuffing yourself on Thanksgiving! Look for next week’s previews coming soon. Any comic books you didn’t see reviewed that you want reviewed? Any grades you didn’t agree on? Let us know in the comments!

All images taken from ComiXology app and the credit for them goes to the respective publishers; thanks to IDW Comics, image Comics, DC and Marvel for putting out great books.

Written by Sherif Elkhatib

Ender’s Game Review

Genre – Scif-fi, Action, Book-to-Movie Adaptation
Director – Gavin Hood
Cast – Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis
Alluring element – Based off the 1984 novel of the same name, Harrison Ford returns to space
Check it out if you liked – District 9, Harry Potter, the book “Ender’s Game”

2013_enders_game-wide

Plot – 7
Acting – 8
Representation of Genre – 7  
Cinematography – 8
Effects/Environment – 9
Captivity – 9
Logical consistency – 6
Originality/Creativity –  7
Soundtrack/Music – 7
Overall awesomeness – 7

hush_rating_75

Ender’s Game directed by Gavid Hood is about a young boy (how young? not really sure) named Ender (Asa Butterfield) who is chosen to go to Battle School by Graff (Harrison freaking Ford) and Anderson (Viola Davis).  The point of Battle School is to train young people to defend the Earth against the Formics, an alien species who attacked Earth 50 years prior.  Ender is bullied on Earth before he is chosen to go, and once he gets to the school in outer space, he continues to be bullied.  He proves his worth to his peers by winning some epic looking no-gravity battles.  He proves his intelligence to the other students and administrators and then is chosen to “graduate” from Command School where he is trained by Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley). He learns the truth of all his teacher’s motives and the movie, much like the book, has a big twist at the end, leaving many viewers lost.

After watching the film adaptation of controversial author Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, I left the theater feeling a little confused.  What was that story really about?  Without getting into the brilliant writing in the book, the plot points that were missing in the movie, or Card’s bigoted remarks in the recent past, the logical consistency and moral of the film were just not obvious to the viewer.  Without reading the book, I’m not sure that the story would make total sense to a noob, but since I have read the book several times, I am a biased viewer and reviewer.  That being said, it is nearly a week later, and I am still wondering what point the director wanted to make.

First and foremost, this is the first time in history that special effects have been advanced enough to be able to make a movie out of the sci-fi book and not be cheesy.  The effects were amazing.  Particularly the scenes in the Battle Room.  There is one Battle Room clip that is so unbelievably bad-ass because Ender, a young kid, is floating up though no gravity sphere, with two guns in his hands and shooting the shit out of all the other little kids.  It’s amazing.  The visuals of outer-space and the simulation video game Ender plays are creepy, but very enjoyable to watch.  So much so in fact, that it isn’t apparent that the plot and logical consistency are not up to par with what other science fiction films are capable of.  The scenes are so fast paced that it is hard to catch everything upon the first viewing, or even the second.  Ender is being played the whole time by adults, particularly Graff (what a mean man you became, Mr. Ford!) but it is so subtle it is almost non-existent.  The best part of the movie were the battle scenes between the kids in the school, but even those scenes were so fast-paced that it was hard to get the true flavor of all the tactics that go into winning those battles.  The book was built on tactics, something that the movie only lightly touches on, eliminating a lot of the connection we could have had to Ender.

Ender's_Game_suit.jpg.CROP.rectangle3-large
The Battle Room in Ender’s Game. A reality in our future? Some of us can only hope.

On top of that, we are exposed to Ender’s family for only a brief time. His parents seem to have no personality or effect on Ender’s life.  His only relative who has a positive influence on him is his sister Valentine (played by Abigail Breslin).  Valentine also lacks personality in the film, but is mentioned enough by Ender, and is so important the final scenes of the film, that the viewer may be tricked into thinking she was more vital than she really was.  On the flip side of the coin, Ender’s intelligence wasn’t as vital as it could have been.  He seemed to jump to conclusions a lot and the audience got little to no understanding of his thought process.  It was very difficult to grasp his logic because there was little narration of what he was thinking, other than missing Valentine constantly.  By not having enough of a 1st person narration, the audience could not possibly have a full understanding of the last 10 minutes of the movie.

On a positive note, isn’t it great seeing Harrison “Han-Solo” Ford back in space? He plays the over-bearing Graff so well. It’s just unfortunate that he’s not in the movie longer. Asa Butterfield plays an endearing Ender. Although the character in the book grows over the ages of 6-12 during the story, this Ender is portrayed as a gentle-yet-capable young manboy, and aside from a few pre-pubescent squeals, Butterfield plays this role very well. There are a few missteps in the child acting, but not every movie with child actors has to be Beasts of the Southern Wild. I felt charmed by many of Ender’s classmates, Bean specifically, and overall the cast is comprised of very solid acting. Breslin’s performance as Valentine was all it could be with the material she was given.  She did a good job at being pretty, which was the only “depth” she was allowed to have. However, characters like Bonzo, who is a laughable 5’5″ to Butterfield’s 5’10”, plays a serious bully to Ender in the film and can just never quite be taken seriously (especially considering that his main following comes from his role as Rico on Hannah Montana – a fact I had to look up, I promise! I don’t watch Hannah Montana anymore).

SOME SPOILERS AHEAD!  Ender suddenly realizes that not only he killed the entire Formic species, but that there is still a queen left, she is just outside of the bunk he has been living in on the planet Command School is, and she is in the cave like structure featured in his video game where Valentine always appears.  END SPOILERS 🙂 This isn’t the last half hour of the movie, but it very well could have been.  In fact, the last 10 minutes should have been expanded into 30. It wouldn’t have seem so stuck on the end to movie without purpose, giving a false sense of a moral.

All great storytelling, whatever the medium, needs to know the balance of show versus tell. If I’m supposed to believe that Ender is put through hell as a launchie and commander, then I need to be shown that he is going through hell – you can’t just tell the audience using a few quick moments of given dialogue. Ender’s Game is a deeply detailed book, and this team may have bit off too much to chew with it. While the visual elements of Ender’s Game were so captivating, many of the important plot points were either removed or glided over. At the end of the day, a film that clocks in at just under 2 hours and has a problem with depth is something that could have been solved by just going deeper – deeper into Valentine & Peter’s story, deeper into Ender’s rise to stardom at Battle School, deeper into the incredibly enthralling battle scenes and political and war commentary that made this book such an amazing story to begin with.  The target audience was (I assume) middle schoolers to the 40 somethings who read the book when they were in high school.  I am certain that audience would have appreciated a longer movie with more depth in the characters and more logical consistency.  It was a sci-fi movie that will most likely be forgotten, which is unfortunate, because the story the book tells is anything but forgettable.  A better moral, a better story and unfortunately, the ugly remarks of Orson Scott Card not ever happening would have made Ender’s Game the film something worth unanimously touting on all angles.

enders-game-tv

Don’t let this book make you leave the theater feeling empty or scare you from seeing it altogether. The movie is not a shell of the book it spawned from; no, let it be the foreplay for enjoying one hell of a story. Let it inspire you to read a book about a young boy and his journey. If you are interested in seeing the film, I strongly suggest seeing it in theaters.  The special effects are amazing on the big screen!

written by Adrian Puryear and Sherif Elkhatib

Monthly Movie Preview: November 2013

The blockbusters are coming! The blockbusters are coming! November stars off with a bang and keeps getting better. With some big movies on the horizon, it’s hard not to get excited about the action movies, the book-to-movie adaptations and family films coming your way this upcoming month.

November 1 – Ender’s Game

Starring: Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis

Based off the 1985 book of the same name, Ender’s Game is centered around a young boy who is enlisted into some weird child army to single-handedly eliminate an alien threat and save the world. This child prodigy, played by Asa Butterfield (Hugo‘s title actor), is a very advanced strategist and thinker for his age, which leads him to be outcasted a lot. The book focused on a lot of battle strategy and the “games” he plays to train himself – many of which I think kids would love to play. I’m thoroughly excited to see this movie and think it will translate into a beautiful District 9/Harry Potter sci-fi mash-up.

November 1 – Free Birds

Starring: Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Amy Poehler, Dwight Howard (for reals!)

Okay, so nobody roots for a turkey to win, but that may change after Free Birds comes out. Awkwardly just a few weeks before millions of pounds of turkey are devoured by Americans, Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson will lead an animated revolution to go back in time and “take turkeys off the menu.” TOO SOON. The trailer shows lots of good family fun, and enough jokes for adults to enjoy it as well. It looks worth checking out, but with all the other juggernaut films coming out the next few days, it might have served well to come out a little closer to Thanksgiving. Here’s to hoping their plan works!

November 1 – Last Vegas

Starring: Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline, 50 Cent

Imagine Hangover forty years later. Seriously, that’s about it; it’s a little shallow, but with the star-power that comes with this movie, there should be enough momentum to carry it. Aimed towards a different demographic, expect a lot of old people jokes. Actually, that’s really all you should expect. It’s also time that I accept that Morgan Freeman and Robert De Niro are officially old. The scene with Morgan Freeman gathering the courage to jump out of his bedroom window is, and always be, hysterical. Again, with all these action epics out this month, I don’t expect this movie to do well, but will probably be worth a Netflix rental.

November 8 – The Armstrong LIe

Starring: Lance Armstrong’s missing testicle, Lance Armstrong

The Armstrong Lie begins with a humble story. Filmmaker Alex Gibney, enamored with the story of Lance Armstrong, was filming an inspiring documentary about the miracle comeback of an American cyclist. Of course, it ended up being too good to be true, as Armstrong was juicing/doping/whatever. So instead of calling it a day, Gibney gave Lance two middle fingers and decided to turn the positive documentary into one shaming him (although, I don’t know how much more shaming could be done). It’s a documentary I wish ESPN: 30 for 30 would have done, but I’m intrigued nonetheless.

November 8 – Thor: The Dark World

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba

Here comes Thor! It’s been a while since his forgettable movie debut, but the buzz from The Avengers is keeping this character in the spotlight for the time being. Chris Hemsworth does a convincing job as the Thunder God, but we will need more than just GC’ed monsters and backgrounds to make this a good film. The chemistry, as violent as it is, between Thor and Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is among the best in all the comic book movies. Odin willing, there is enough substance in the story and supporting acting for this film to give Thor the props he deserves.

November 15 – The Book Thief

Starring: Sophie Nelisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson

The Book Thief is one of the best young adult novels to come out in recent years.  It can seem a little daunting to read because it has 500+ pages, but so do most of the Harry Potter books.  The Book Thief is so stellar because it is easy to read, yet incredibly thought provoking.  Narrated by Death, we follow a little girl named Liesel who is a German girl growing up under the Hitler regime.  She and her adoptive family are harboring a young Jewish man.  Liesel works around the town and steals books for she and her Jewish friend, Max to read.  Like many wartime stories, especially of such a heavy nature, it can be expected to cry a bit.  I highly recommend seeing this film if it has any resemblance to the book.

November 15 – The Wolf of Wall Street

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey, Jon Favreau

**UPDATE: It was just confirmed Tuesday that the film would be pushed back to Christmas Day so that Scorsese could kill some babies and try to get it from an NC-17 rating down to an R rating. Sad times, but a great Christmas movie awaits us.**

November 22 – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Donald Sutherland

Catching Fire was my favorite book in the trilogy.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t as impressed with the film adaptation of the first book of The Hunger Games trilogy.  And I’m sorry to still harp on this, but why does Peeta still have BOTH LEGS?!  Ok, ok, moving on.  I loved that the previews for Catching FIre only allowed us a glimpse of the Victory Tour for Katniss and Peeta, because it purposefully left out the second half of the book.  I’ll leave it a mystery here, in case you don’t know what happens to our heroine, but I’ll say that it will be worth it to meet a character named Finnick O’Dair, a winner of a previous Hunger Game.  Eeekkk…. nerd girl moment, here I come on November 22!

November 22 – Delivery Man

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt

It’s pretty hard for me to turn down a movie with Vince Vaughn.  In Delivery Man, Vaughn plays a man who learns he is the father to several hundred children due to a mix-up at a sperm bank.  He makes it his mission to have a little part in his kids lives. The movie is a remake of a French film named Starbuck. In time for the holiday season, the comedy with a little bit of a risque theme will most likely be the feel good movie of the month.

November 27 – Frozen

Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Johnathan Groff, Alan Tudyk

The previews for Disney Animated’s Frozen were so creative because they were little short films before the actual movie.  In fact, the first time I saw a preview this summer, I thought it was a short before the film.  The story is about a girl named Anna (Kristen Bell) who is on the search for her sister who has turned the kingdom into a permanent Winterland.  With the help of some wintertime friends, Anna embarks on her adventure.  The movie looks super cute and will be the perfect way to start the winter season.

November 27 – Oldboy

Starring: Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Samuel L Jackson,

A movie that is a remake of a 2003 South Korean film that is based off a 1996 Japanese manga that stars Josh Brolin. It’s also directed by Spike Lee. Brolin plays a man captured and held prisoner, then forced to watch news update that pin him as the murderer of his wife (surprise!). For twenty years, he watches the world go by from his solitary confinement. Just when he begins to grow a Merlin-scale beard, he is released into the world. From there, it looks like a lot of crazy ensues, and he has sex with hot women and kills a lot of people. The preview kinda made me sad, as I realized that Brolin could easily play a Dark Knight Returns style Bruce Wayne (no knock to Affleck). The biggest story here isn’t going to be Brolin, though, it will be to see if Spike Lee still has the juice. Lee hasn’t really directed a good movie since 2006’s Inside Man and everybody expects big things from everything he puts out.

November 27 – Homefront

Starring: Jason Statham, James Franco, Winona Ryder, Kate Bosworth

Yet another book-to-movie adaptation of Chuck Logan’s book of the same name, Homefront stars Jason Statham (sidenote: thank God, because it’s been almost six months since I’ve seen Statham shoot anybody in a movie and I was beginning to go through withdrawals) as an undercover DEA agent who is harrassed because his daughter beat the crap out of a bully that happened to be the son of a meth kingpin, named Gator. Gator, played by James Franco, is not Heisenberg. He is a sloppy redneck, and I’m sure there is some elaborate speech where he tells us why his name is Gator. I can guarantee a large body count on Statham’s behalf, and creepily good acting by Franco, but it’s Winona Ryder that will steal the show…. too soon? Anyway, it will be a pretty good movie, but expect a pretty formulaic Statham movie.

November 29 – Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Starring: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris,

Finally, Idris Elba gets his first solo starring role in a major motion picture – and it’s playing one of the greatest civil rights leaders of all time. I’m so excited to see The Wire’s Stringer Bell play Nelson Mandela – and not the South African rugby team (Invictus), not the 

Finally, Idris Elba gets his first starring role in a major motion picture – and it’s playing one of the greatest civil rights leaders of all time. I’m so excited to see Elba play Nelson Mandela. And it’s not as the head of the South African rugby team, it’s the man behind the revolution. This movie should give Elba much needed respect. Although I am bit concerned, as his trademark mustache was not casted for the part, I am glad that this is not a gimmicky portrayal to portray the freedom fighter; actually, this story is based off of Mandela’s own auto-biography. Cue K’Naan’s “Waving Flag;” it’s a wrap!

This month’s list brings us:

  • 10 based off a true story or book to movie adaptations or sequels
  • 3 “original” ideas

Join us next month, as we cover some of this year’s most anticipated films. Action, mayhem and wonder await us in December. Any other movies you are interested in that we did not cover this month? Let us know!

Written by Sherif Elkhatib and Adrian Puryear

Graphic Novel Review – Saga: Volume One

Graphic Novel Review: Saga: Volume One 

Collecting: Saga #1-6

Original Release Date: 2012

Publisher: Image Comics

Image

Characters:  Alana, Marko, Hazel, Prince Robot IV, The Will, Izabel, The Stalk

Writer: Brian K. Vaughn

Artist: Fiona Staples

SCORECARD (each category ranked on a 10-point scale):

Storyline – 8
Art – 10
Captivity and Length – 10
Identity – 10
Use of Medium – 8
Depth – 7
Fluidity – 9
Intrigue/Originality – 9
The Little Things – 10
Overall awesomeness – 10

hush_rating_91

 Imagine if The Hobbit, Firefly and Star Wars had monkey sex and left a wet spot in the form of a comic. Saga is one of those rare gems that comes once a generation. Writer extraordinaire Brian Vaughn, of TV’s Lost, and comics, Y: The Last Man is paired with Fiona Staples, total hottie and penciler of books like North 40 and Jonah Hex. The result is a space opera like none you have seen before. If you can envision what all of your 5th grade, overly sexualized pictures would look like if they had space ships and laser pistols, you’d have Saga.

Volume one is the trade version of issues 1-6, originally published in 2012. Once again, Image Comics pushes the boundaries, almost as often as they push back release dates, and gives us a comic worthy of fan-boy argument and minimum orders at your local comic shop.
The story follows two lovebirds born on opposite sides of a galactic war. Take away the horns and wings and Marko and Alana are Kirk Cobain and Courtney Love, or a less violent hipster version of Mickey and Mallory.
Plot Alert!
Our heroine, Alana is from a planet called Landfall and Marko is from a planet called
Wreath. The two planets have been at war longer than anyone can remember. They fell in love and had a mixed species baby. This baby is the reason why they are being hunted by both species.
Image
Our interstellar lovers begin their adventure with the birth of their daughter and our narrator, Hazel.  Its probably the most kick-ass birth ever in a comic. Immediately, they are confronted by an army of angry elk dudes and another group of guys that look like the cops from Demolition Man with wings.
If I sound a little gushy, it’s probably because Fiona Staples single handedly kept my faith in comics alive last year with this title.  Hell, she damn near created a whole new religion, fully equipped with sister-wives, Kool-aid flavored arsenic, and snake charming. So pardon me if I sound a little fanboy while reading my signed copy. This comic doesn’t answer the question, did Greedo shoot first? But it does stir a pot of middle school giddiness once you read a page or two.
Image
There is a post war, atomic era feel to Staples work. Saga is reminiscent of Dan Stevens Rocketeer epic. Vaughn’s humor compliments her sarcastic facial expressions and the book reads like a still frame sitcom.
Magic is a common weapon and spells are often cast to thwart enemies in this universe. But there is also a healthy dose of light-saber’esk swordplay.
The Will, a freelance bounty hunter hired to find our couple, looks like what Han Solo would have if he’d been played by Bruce Willis.
Our thrift-shop, Gluten-free heroes find themselves in more trouble than they can handle and end up befriending the half torso ghost of a dead emmo-girl named Izabel. Zoinks!
Image
I can only empathize with Mr. and Mrs. Staples having to explain to little Fiona why her art wasn’t suitable for the fridge. The opening scene in chapter four with Will walking through Sextillion is disturbing, but you won’t stop smiling all while trying not to feel guilty about it. There are plenty enough dicks and tits to make you feel like your comic should have come sealed in a plastic bag and sold behind a black curtain.
Overall the story is simple, but the humor is hard to deny. This book is vulgar, sardonic and voguish and I bet George Carlin would have loved it. Volume one has more than enough to keep the reader interested and in anticipation of more Superbad inspired notebook doodles of dicks and spaceships. Bravo for Saga.
  Image

      Related Books: Saga Volume Two, and all comic Issues #1-13 

      More by the writer: Brian Vaughn is an official Bad-Ass. He has written for everything you like. The list is too long to do justice. It includes Captain America, X-Men and Spider-Man.  He has even crossed universes and written for the guy with the cape and cowl and the other dude with the green bling. Not to mention Y: The Last Man is one of the best titles of this decade and has won numerous awards. Oh, and then there is ABC’s Lost.

More by the artist: Fiona Staples is pretty much the best thing in comics right now. She has worked her way through the industry and is co-creator of one of the most popular titles on the market, Saga. She has done a ton of cover art for multiple titles, including, The Walking Dead, Red Sonja and Superman/Batman. Watch out comic-book heads! This inkstress is already making a big impact on the industry, and this is only the beginning!  Cue spooky villain sound track.

Written by John Soweto

Monthly Movie Preview: September 2013

Hey guys! It’s been a whole year since we’ve done this, but with the rise in good independent films and nerd-based movies, we feel like now is as good of a time to get back on it as any. While action films tend to rule supreme, September is a month of promising documentaries and indy films, making up for the super-saturation of action movies this summer.

September 6 – Riddick

Starring: Vin Diesel, Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica), Dave Bautista (WWE wrester)

The third installment of the trilogy following Diesel’s Riddick around a desolate future where vicious creatures rule the darkness. The Riddick series has garnered quite the cult following and it’s not without reason. The sweet special effects, a strong protagonist and a fully-enveloped world helped the previous two films, Pitch Black and Chronicles of Riddick, carve out a niche in the sci-fi world. Riddick‘s story starts with our main character left for dead on some God-forsaken planet, killing lost of nasty alien creatures and humans that get in his way while he saves a planet from being described. Ya know, pretty much every sci-fi plot since science fiction was a thing. While this film will definitely create some buzz, like most of Diesel’s other flicks, I don’t expect it to make too much noise. That said, this will definitely be a movie I will want to see in theaters. I’ve really enjoyed Diesel’s performances of the first two films and I can’t wait to see how the third one plays out. – S

September 6 – Salinger

Starring: Martin Sheen, Edward Norton, John Cusack, Judd Apatow, many other famous people

Salinger is a documentary centered around the secluded life of legendary author, J.D. Salinger, whose book, The Catcher in the Rye, after multiple murderers (one being that of The Beatles’ John Lennon) claimed that his book inspired them to carry out the murders. It will be a pretty in-depth look at the man behind the myth. Salinger has been described as being “exhaustively researched” by one of its critics; this is something that Adrian (an English major and readaholic) will geek out about, and viewers who are not as well-versed in literature, like me, can look forward to learning a lot from it. The documentary’s director, Shane Salerno, has been working on the film for over eight years, and has co-written an extensive biography on Salinger. Salerno describes the film as a view “inside J.D. Salinger’s private world and shine light on a man named Jerry who lived in the shadow of the myth of J.D. Salinger.” Our book nerds will have a review to look forward to on this film for sure. – S

September 13 – The Family

Starring: Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tommy Lee Jones

A fun spin on mob family comedies, The Family is a tale about a man (played by De Niro) that informs on the mob and enters the Witness Protection program, moving his family to France in order to remain anonymous from the crime family that he snitched on. The best part about the trailer is that his whole family is a bunch of jerks. Their mob mentality hasn’t gone away at all, and from the previews, it’s a pretty humorous look at mafia mentality translated to other areas of life. Surprisingly, laying low doesn’t last long. Explosions and hilarity ensue. It doesn’t look ground-breaking or anything, but it is an original spin on a dated idea. It could be worth a look. – S

September 13 – The Muslims Are Coming

Starring: A buncha Muslim comedians, political comedians (John Stewart, Lewis Black, etc)

The Muslims Are Coming! is a documentary/stand up comedy centered around Muslim comedians trying to break the race barrier with humor. It’s been years since I’ve seen a stand-up movie in theaters, but as an Arab-American, I feel pretty invested in this. The Muslims Are Coming! started off as a Kickstarter campaign, believe it or not. While it’s sold as a stand-up comedy, my guess is that a majority of the film will use personal encounters with Southerners and a slew of celebrity interviews to try to eliminate Mulsimophobia in the film. It also brings to light the issue of acceptance of Westernized Muslims by traditional Muslims. Muslims raised in America often find themselves trapped in the middle, not being accepted by either traditional Muslims or the mainstream American population. It looks to be a pretty decent movie, boasting, “You’ve never laughed this hard at a Muslim.” – S

September 20 – C.O.G

Starring: David Sedaris’ genius, Johnathan Groff (The Conspirator), Troian Bellisario (Pretty Little Liars)

It’s amazing that a film based off anything of David Sedaris’ life is being made at all.  If you are unfamiliar with who David Sedaris is, let me clue you in.  Sedaris is a bestselling author of creative non-fiction.  I wouldn’t go as far as to say his writings are all memoir, because memoir doesn’t necessarily make people laugh.  Sedaris has written about all his odd jobs, his life with boyfriend Hugh, his time in NYC and Chicago, and his family and childhood in North Carolina.  The reason there has never been a film made of his books and/or stories is because he always felt that his family would be mocked rather than acted and he never wanted them portrayed that way.  That being said, I don’t believe Sedaris’ family will take much of a role in C.O.G.  C.O.G. stands for Child of God.  As a fair warning, this movie is probably not for bigots, homophobes or religious zealots.  The story of C.O.G. will be a mixture of stories David wrote about his early 20’s working the apple season in the northwest and then carving clocks with a friend he makes.  That being said, I cannot wait to see this film.  Sedaris is my favorite author and i know he has had a lot to do with the making of the film.  Be ready to laugh hysterically, be shocked and even come away enlightened. – A

September 27 – Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2

Starring: Bill Hader (SNL), Anna Farris (Scary Movie), Andy Samberg (SNL), Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your MotherDr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog), Terry Crews

As the month’s lone family film, Meatballs 2 looks to pick up where the second film left off. Flint and the rest of Swallow Falls return to a land they had to evacuate after Flint’s food machine forced the population out of town. When they return, it gets all Land of the Lost meets the Food Channel. The entire island has evolved and food creatures now rule over the treacherous land. Every creature is some silly play on names, the most hilarious being the Tacodile… SUPREME! It looks to be full of laughs for the whole family, with a few SNL alumni to keep things fresh for kids and adults alike. I really enjoyed the first installment, so I expect the sequel to repeat the formula that made the original so successful. – S

September 27 – Don Jon

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza

Setting aside my total man-crush on JGL (yeah, he has his own acronym), I’m genuinely excited to see Don Jon. In his writing and directing debut, Gordon-Levitt also stars as a sex-addicted bro-guy who unexpectedly falls for Scarlett Johansson and has to decide if he wants to live his life through porn or whether he wants to settle down with a decent girl. Of course, any time you mention Scarlett Johansson and sex-addiction in the same sentence, I’m sold. In all honestly, though, this looks to be a different approach. I’m sure there will be gratuitous sex in Don Jon, but I think that it will be limited. I see Joseph Gordon-Levitt adding depth to a seemingly shallow film. Don Jon looks like it will be a fun independent film, and hopefully will put JGL on the map as more than just an awesome actor. It’s the film I’m most excited for this month. – S

September 27 – As I Lay Dying

Starring: James Franco, Danny McBride

You may have thought right off the bat that a movie starring James Franco and Danny McBride would be a sequel to this summer’s This is the End.  But a second glance at the title, and you may be reminded of William Faulkner’s classic American novel of the same name.  As a bibliophile myself, I am always excited to see moviemakers ideas about a book.  William Faulkner is one of the best authors in American history, so it shouldn’t be too hard to make a quality film of his genius.  James Franco not only plays the main character, Darl, but he also directs the film.  The main plot is a family of brothers and sisters must bury their dead mother in a nearby town.  Keep in mind that the book was written in 1930, so this will be a period piece.  I look forward to seeing where this adaptation takes the viewer. – A

September 27 – Rush

Starring: Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Daniel Brühl (famous German actor), Olivia Wilde (Tron: LegacyButterHouse, drooooool….)

Blah blah blah, Olivia Wilde, blah blah blah, racing. Wait, what? Olivia Wilde? Sold! Rush is a Ron Howard film about the rivalry between Formula One racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda that is more about the two driving each other to be the best than it is about winning. Lauda is severely injured in a crash (actual footage shown below) and he tries to make a comeback, with the help of Hunt pushing him. While it looks like it would make a really cool ESPN 30 for 30 documentary,  I don’t know that I could watch the movie without thinking of Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Help me, Tom Cruise, it has Olivia Wilde in it, so I’m automatically interested. – S

That’s quite a bit of movies for September! Look out for October’s preview in a month.

Written by Sherif Elkhatib and Adrian Puryear

Pacific Rim Review

Genre – Scif-fi, Action
Director – Guillermo del Toro
Cast – Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Charlie Day, Rinko Kikuchi
Alluring element – Giant robots vs. giant monsters…come on…
Check it out if you liked – Transformers, Jurassic Park, Neon Genesis Evangelion (Anime)
Plot – 8
Acting – 8
Representation of Genre – 10  
Cinematography – 7
Effects/Environment – 9
Captivity – 9
Logical consistency – 8
Originality/Creativity – 8 
Soundtrack/Music – 8
Overall awesomeness – 10

hush_rating_85

Suit up Hush fans!!  Tryouts have officially started.  “Tryouts for what?” you ask!  I’m on the hunt for my neural handshake partner.  “What’s a neural handshake?” you ask .  For those of you that have already seen Pacific Rim – no explanation is required.  For those of you who haven’t (…WHY HAVEN’T YOU!!…) I will explain.  A neural handshake is the method by which two individuals dive into one another’s minds and memories facilitated and for the purpose of piloting the most bad-ass invention ever thought up by humans – a 250 foot, two-thousand ton, plasma gun wielding combat robot.  A Jaeger.  “What’s a Jaeger for?” you ask (you’re full of questions today, aren’t you?).  Well, what else is a giant battle-bot good for besides fighting monsters the size of skyscrapers.  Kaiju, is what they’re called.  So, like I said, tryouts are here and I’m sure there’s already a line outside my door.  While you make your way to that line, let me tell you why Pacific Rim may be the best movie you’ll see all summer.

Pacific Rim gets to it right off the bat.  The film starts with a brief recounting of the worlds first Kaiju encounter.  Narrated by the main character, Raleigh Becket (Hunnam), viewers are flashed images of the beast taking down the Golden Gate bridge, F-15’s being swatted out of the air like they were mosquitoes, humble citizens frantically fleeing (Godzilla style), and endless amounts of destruction until finally the Kaiju is downed by all the human race has to throw at it.  After taking down one hulking monster from the sea, another one appears some months later.  This time on the other side of the world, Hong Kong.  After more death, destruction and a slow, nearly unachievable take down of this new terror from the pacific ocean, the people of earth realize that “this wasn’t going to stop.”  So naturally, the pacific nations united, bringing together all the coolest scientists, engineers and video game experts (I assume…) and tasked them with creating “monsters of our own…”  The Jaeger program is born.  While building the walking ninja-mechs was simple enough, what proved to be the biggest obstacle in making the Jaeger’s feasible was finding pilots to guide the man-made beasts into battle.   A Jaeger is only as effective as its driver.  If one was going to hand a Kaiju’s ass back to him, they had to be able to go toe-to-toe with Mr. Miyagi in real life (the gamers wept at this news).  Not only that, but the neurological strain on solo pilots proved to be too overwhelming for sustainable implementation.  This is where neural handshakes are important.  Instead of one brain to pilot a Jaeger, two would be used.  But for ultimate effectiveness paired pilots have to be “compatible.”  Not just any two people can share all their thoughts, desires, memories, fears, and emotions and still karate chop Kaiju in the face.  Eventually the humans finally got it down, and before you know it, the pacific coast became the new battle-royale arena.  That’s where the movies starts and it only gets better from there.

Pacific Rim does an above and beyond job as far as sci-fi and action movies go.  By not wasting any time on deliberate build-up or complex plots (but having just enough to carry the story along) the audience is sucked right in from the get-go.  It was clear that del Toro and crew understood what aspects fans would be drawn to and they did an excellent job of highlighting them.  I’d wager that more than 50% of screen time included either or both Jaeger and Kaiju.  Watching the pilot loading process, or Jaeger maintenance and transportation, or Kaiju dissection is so enthralling and entertaining it’s surprising.  The scenes between major confrontations are well spent on developing characters and plot with only marginal amounts of that dragging-along feeling.  This is especially noteworthy considering the main sequences are larger than life and truly spectacular battles between machines and monsters.  Each cast member plays a pivotal role.  Each has layers that peel back over the course of the movie.  None of it is cliche and all of it makes for very entertaining moments.  I especially loved the banter between the two head scientists (portrayed by Charlie Day and Burn Gorman) as they theorize why and how the Kaiju are attacking.  Idris Elba never fails to deliver a smooth, yet in your face performance of a hardened and passionate leader.  Miss Mori’s (Kikuchi) layers are especially epic and very chilling.

Combine all the greatness of the in-between and it still doesn’t come close to Jaeger vs. Kaiju battles (which is how it should be).  These sequences were damn near perfect.  Anticipation builds to boiling levels every time a show down is imminent.  When the bell dings and the lumbering giants charge the rush is practically orgasmic.  Each battle holds new surprises.  Jaeger’s all have different abilities and weapons, Kaiju adapt and “learn” from previous battles, environment and landscapes vary.  The epic-ness is consistently epic.  The details in these scenes are icing on top of the cake (your favorite icing, I might add).  When a giant robot fist swings and misses it’s intended target (a giant monster’s throat) and careens into the adjacent office building, slamming halfway across a single floor stopping at just the right point and with just the right amount of force to start the pendulum effect of a Newton’s cradle desk ornament is applause worthy.  Speaking of punching office buildings… The collateral damage in this movie makes Man of Steel look like a glass of spilled milk.  My only grievances with this movie are the sometimes hard to follow cinematography during fights and the “dinosaur” plot twist.  Not really a twist, just an unnecessary and distracting element that doesn’t even constitute deeper thought.  All in all, Pacific Rim nailed it.

I could write all day about how impressed I was with various aspects of Pacific Rim.  This film struck a prominent cord within me and resonated so deeply with what I love about the genre that it’s taken me two weeks just to write this review for fear of leaving something important or awesome out of it.  Don’t be mislead by the overall rating I’ve given Pacific Rim.  Strict adherence to the grading criteria and personal principles indicates this movie is pretty freakin’ sweet with a rank of 85%.  On a very personal level, this film is much closer to 95% for me.  It will go down as one of my all time favorite films.  I can’t wait to see this movie again and gawk at the shear and pure awesomeness that is Pacific Rim.  Please, please, please do not miss this film while it’s in theaters.  It may not be the best movie you see all summer, but I’d be willing to bet you a movie ticket that it is probably the funnest movie you’ll see all summer (if not, all year).  Now, if you’ll all excuse me – I have tryouts to attend to.

written by Taylor Lowe

After Earth Review

Genre –Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic World
Director – M. Night Shyamalan
Cast – Will Smith, Jaden Smith
Alluring element – Will Smith
Check it out if you liked – The Hunger Games, any moderately sci-fi movie made.
Plot – 9 
Acting – 9
Representation of Genre – 8 
Cinematography – 8
Effects/Environment – 7
Captivity – 9
Logical consistency – 7
Originality/Creativity – 7 
Soundtrack/Music – 7 
Overall awesomeness – 8 

hush_rating_79

I will start off by saying that I liked After Earth.  It had everything that I like in my entertainment: science fiction, a little bit of fantasy, a survivalist plot, and an unlikely hero.  I thought the acting was good.  I thought the special effects were decent.  I liked that even though it was an M. Night. Shyamalan film (SPOILER), there was no crazy twist.  I was a little worried that there would be a twist and that it would be that it wasn’t Earth after all.

So why have other critics given it such bad reviews?  I think because the film was marketed badly.  The good part of the marketing was to not mention M. Night Shyamalan’s involvement.  But it was made to look like a film starring Will Smith, which is really for adults.  But he was a supporting actor to his young son Jaden.  Jaden Smith was the star here, so it was misleading to make the star Will.  It may have received better reception had the film been marketed as “young adult” a la The Hunger Games.

(Major Spoilers ahead.  Skip this paragraph if you don’t want to know details)  The background of After Earth is that an alien invasion is going to happen on the new civilization of Nova Prime.  The Ursas are aliens who can smell human fear.  They are ruthless.  But Cypher Raige can kill them.  He is able to by “ghosting”, or turning off his fear.  He teaches this method and other military regimens to the people of Nova Prime.  His son, Kitai is one of these people.  Kitai is denied advancement to become a Ranger at the beginning of the film.  Kitai’s mother convinces Cypher to take Kitai on his last mission.  It goes wrong and they crash-land on to Earth, which humans have not inhabited in over 1,000 years.  The beacon that could send an emergency signal to their people is on the tail of the ship, which landed about 60 miles from their location.  In the crash, the whole crew except Cypher and Kitai die.  Cypher breaks his leg badly and Kitai must brave the Earth to retrieve the beacon.  All with the possibility that the Ursa they were smuggling on the ship may have survived the crash and is roaming around waiting to kill.

I thought the action was great.  Because Jaden has already played the “Karate Kid”, it was easy for him to play this role well.  Other critics didn’t care for the acting.  Because Jaden is the main actor in the movie, I think it is a little unfair to give a 15 year old such a harsh reaction.  He has grown up in Hollywood, but because he is the son of a superstar, and starring in roles right next to his father, it becomes very easy to see his setbacks as an actor.  But his father has been perfecting his craft since he too was a teenager.  Will Smith is now 44 years old.  And as you may recall, Will Smith didn’t start out in major motion pictures playing action heroes, he started out on television playing, well, himself.  So let’s give Jaden a break.  He did a great job.

The story was good.  There weren’t any major plot holes that I saw. Kitai was a normal teenager with a shaky past.  He has some issues psychologically due to his father’s sterile treatment of him and his sister’s death, which he blames himself for.  The intense scenes of Kitai vs. Nature kept me at the edge of my seat for the majority of the movie.  I really enjoy survivalist movies.  The new world was easy to imagine if it were to be abandoned.  The beginning scenes of Nova Prime are breathtaking.  The special effects of the sky were spectacular.  Could After Earth have been better?  Perhaps, but for a simple plot, I think it was tops.  Lots of action, good acting, no sex and not too much gore.  That’s a winner for me.

written by Adrian Puryear

Star Trek: Into Darkness Review

Movie Review – Star Trek: Into Darkness

Genre – Sci-fi, Adventure
Director – J.J. Abrams
Cast – Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Benedict Cumberbatch
Alluring element – The next edition of one of the most beloved space-adventure franchises of all time
Check It Out If You Liked – Star Trek (new and old), Star Wars, Pretty much anything with the word “Star” in the title
 
SCORECARD (each category ranked on a 10-point scale):
Plot – 8
Acting – 9
Representation of Genre –10
Cinematography – 9
Effects/Environment – 10
Captivity – 9
Logical consistency – 8
Originality/Creativity – 7
Soundtrack/Music – 8
Overall awesomeness – 9

Image

Fellow Hushers… I am ashamed.  As the closing credits rolled for Into Darkness I felt only SHAME coursing through my veins!  …Shame upon MYSELF!!  Shame that I, a self-proclaimed sci-fi buff have not given more of my devotion to the glorious story that is Star Trek.  As some of you may be aware, I’m a ride-or-die Star Wars fan.  I’ve been using this fact to excuse my vast lack of knowledge about all things Star Trek for some time.  I’ve never seen an entire season of any one of the many TV series and I’ve only seen one Star Trek movie – the 2009 reboot and predecessor to Into Darkness.  At the same time, I’m not completely ignorant.  I do know all the major characters and their roles, I’ve got a decent hold of the different alien species and planets, and I understand the premise of Star Fleet and the basic storyline.  I’ve got the fundamentals, you could say.  After seeing the newest Star Trek film, I am no longer satisfied by having just the fundamentals.  Into Darkness has convinced me to cut the excuses and dive headlong into the vast body of the Star Trek universe.  I vow that before the end of the year I will join the ranks of Trekkies out there.  My point being – Star Trek: Into Darkness is an awesome film and you’d be a damned fool to miss it.  Keep in mind folks that this is all coming from a SW Fan Boy.

Into Darkness starts out with the Enterprise crew as we left them at the end of Abrams first Star Trek film. Kirk, Spock, Uhura, Bones, Scotty, Chekov, and Sulu are all in action and on a mission!  The opening sequence lands the team on planet Nibiru.  A vibrant and bizarre jungle world with an indigenous and underdeveloped population whose very existence is threatened by an enormous volcano on the verge of a massive eruption.  Not only that, but those same natives the team is out to save happen to be quite unfriendly and aggressive.  Mix in that the Enterprise crew cannot allow themselves (or their vastly superior technology) to be seen by the locals and it all makes for an amazingly captivating start.  The film then transitions into what will be the main plot.  We’re taken back to Earth and in London where a devious and mysterious plan begins to take form under the direction of one man – John Harrison.  Harrison begins committing acts of deadly terror aimed at Star Fleet.  This eventually kicks Kirk and crew into gear to go out and hunt this man down.  And to aid him in his mission Star Fleet Admiral Marcus provides the Enterprise with new, top-secret torpedoes.  This all seems great to Kirk, but to the Enterprise’s lead engineer, Scotty this all seems very, very bad.  Let me tell you from personal experience folks, it’s not a good idea to ignore an engineer’s recommendation.  As the manhunt gets underway, the situation evolves as stunning revelations begin to surface.  Before long the Enterprise team is faced with extreme challenges that if left unbeaten could throw the entire galaxy into unfathomable chaos and destruction.

I loved the 2009 Star Trek.  It was so well executed in the way it allowed for new fans and old fans to enjoy the revamp without tarnishing the origin stories.  The bar was set high for the imminent sequel.  Well, as high as a “sequel bar” can possibly be set, because, face it, sequels are never better than the original.  Right?-WRONG!  Okay, 99 percent of the time the sequel isn’t better, but folks I’ve got to say that Into Darkness may be part of that 1 percent (and this is a 1 percent I’m actually willing to get behind).  At the very least I’d say that it was of equal caliber.  This is not to say that Into Darkness was just more of the same.  The movie makers did a great job of taking familiar characters in a well-established universe and creating something new.  Again, I can’t speak in context to ALL of the Star Trek stories, but in relation to the 2009 Star Trek this new film was just as exciting and intense.  I’ll go out on a limb and say that fans more dedicated than I were pleased with, or at least appreciated, what Abrams and team put together.  [SPOILER ALERT: I especially think true fans will appreciate the surprising twist of John Harrison’s true identity.  Though I’ve never seen the movie, every nerd in the galaxy knows the merciless and deadly cunning of…KHANNN!!! END SPOILER ALERT]

The whole film felt like one big roller coaster ride – if you like roller coasters that is.  So many things went right!  The action scenes were powerful, but not overwhelming.  The plot drove the movie and in good pace.  The effects stunningly accentuated every detail and moment.  The characters undergo constant growth and development.  The bad guys are relatable which makes them scarier.  Oh now I’m just gushing. <<both hands on cheeks>>  It’s difficult to find critique in this film.  I will say that some aspects of the story were predictable and others somewhat misplaced.  None of it is distracting, however, and all of it carries purpose.  I wish I had a Trekkie sitting next to me as I wrote this so I could ask their opinion and critique of Into Darkness, but to the average sci-fi lover’s mind and eye, this film is excellent.  Hush Comics gives Star Trek: Into Darkness an 87 out of 100.  This summer is going to be hot people, and I’m not talking about the weather.  Start off in great fashion by going to see Into Darkness in theaters.  Being a Fan Boy, my usual sign off is “may the Force be with you.”  But, just this once I’ll leave you with “live long and prosper.”  Hush on Hushers!

Written by Taylor Lowe