Friday, April 30, 2010

The Losers (2010)

As we were walking to the theater last night, I told my brother Dave that I'd be satisfied with The Losers if it was at least as good as an episode of Human Target. I didn't need a completely unique experience; I just needed to be entertained for a couple of hours.

And I was. I would've been considerably more so had the trailers not already shown me so many of the most exciting parts, but that's a different post. The Losers is a fun action movie. It's nothing new or unusual - though there was certainly thought given to its look to make it feel new and unusual - it's pretty much the same as any other action movie about a group of special ops guys (each with his specific area of expertise) going up against the corrupt government official who burned them. It's pretty much The A-Team, is what it is. But if you like The A-Team - and I do - and wouldn't mind a little appetizer before that main course, The Losers will whet that appetite quite nicely.

My biggest complaint about it is that it goes too far over the top at times. Jason Patric does a really nice job making the villain interesting, but the script calls for him to do some pretty ridiculous stuff in the name of showing how evil he is. Which, okay, is fine, I guess, except that he's not consistent with it. He'll shoot a girl in the face for moving the umbrella she's supposed to be holding over his head, but his primary security agent - who's defeated and made to look ridiculous again and again by the Losers - keeps getting let off the hook. It's all very cartoony and unbelievable.

Then again, cartoony and unbelievable can sometimes be good. Like when you use an exploding motorcycle and its rider to take out a jet airplane. That's just cool. Actually, that scene was worth the price of admission by itself. Chris Evans' T-shirts, Óscar Jaenada's hat, and Zoe Saldana's underwear were just added bonuses.

Three out of five finger-guns.

The Neptune Factor (1973)

The Neptune Factor is most assuredly not "the most fantastic undersea odyssey ever filmed." That wasn't even true in 1973 (not with movies like Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea predating it by 20 years). What it is is a fairly mundane, '70s disaster flick only without the all-star cast (Ernest Borgnine was the biggest name they could muster) or special effects. That's not to say that it's worthless; just very disappointing.

The plot's pretty simple. An undersea earthquake sends a submerged ocean lab into the giant crevice that it was located next to and a rescue is mounted. Tension is created not through action, but through the lack of it. The search for the missing lab is long and tedious for the workers, but the movie does a nice job of making that interesting for the audience. Since it never cuts to the lab to let us know if they're okay or not, we're invested in the hunt too. And that makes us equally frustrated by frequent setbacks like unusually strong underwater currents, aftershocks from the quake, and waiting for proper equipment.

One example of proper equipment is a mini-sub called Neptune. Before it's arrival (it's just been overhauled and hasn't been tested since it was), the primary search was conducted by a military sub that was too large to go into the crevice to look. Once Neptune arrives, things start to look up, except that her by-the-book captain isn't as emotionally invested in the search as the rest of the team - people who've worked with the missing men for a long time. So there's some interpersonal drama too as the rest of the sub crew tries to make the captain take risks against his better judgment.

How to make giant fish lame after the break.

Art Show: It's a Kind of Magic

Aquaman in High Speed

By Leo Matsuda.


Artist Unknown [Never Sea Land]

Baroque Battle Bug

By Sam Nielson. [Avalanche Software Art Blog]

Man-monsters, space girls, heroes in fishnets, Johnny Quest fights robots, and the coolest Fantastic Four line-up ever after the break.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Princess and the Frog

Speaking of New Orleans and capturing its flavor, The Princess and the Frog does a mighty fine job in its Disney sort of way. From the main character's dream of opening a Cajun restaurant to the fairly-tame-but-still-spooky voodoo doctor to the adventures in the firefly-lit swamp, the movie does what Disney is so good at by emphasizing the locale's magical qualities while eliminating the negative aspects.

Even Mardi Gras looks like a fun, family-friendly celebration with all its parades and costumes and no one having to show anything in exchange for beads. Voodoo isn't exactly played up as a positive thing, but there's little blood in the way the Shadow Man practices it or any disturbing trances or mind-control. It's all skull-paint and spooky shadow-creatures; living voodoo dolls and talking masks.

The story itself is pretty good. Tiana is a young girl who's working hard to fulfill her father's (Terrance Howard) dream of opening a fancy restaurant. I appreciated - as I'm sure Disney expected me to - the focus on hard work and doing your part to meet your goals. In contrast to that ideal, Tiana's childhood friend Charlotte is the spoiled - but likable - daughter of John Goodman's character, a wealthy plantation owner (the movie's set in the '20s, so slavery isn't an issue; race-relations in general are never brought up either). Charlotte's never had to work a day in her life and fully believes in wishing upon stars. Tiana's father, on the other hand, always taught her that wishing only gets you so far, a message that Tiana's taken to heart. Unfortunately, she's now in danger of missing out on important things like love and friendship by neglecting to spend time with people. The message of the movie is about balance, and I can get behind that.

Voodoo, frogs, and what didn't work after the break.

Pass the Comics: Tarzan vs Machine Gun Kelly

Tarzan Rescues the Moon

[Diversions of the Groovy Kind]

Sheena vs the Entitled Bitch

In which I lose all respect for Sheena in the final panel. [The Comic Book Catacombs]

Public Enemy

While Alex Ness and I are still working on getting our Machine Gun Kelly story ready for publication, here's another comic featuring my favorite gangster. [Pappy's Golden Age Comics Blogzine]

Sweets: A New Orleans Crime Story

My pal Kody Chamberlain has a new Crime series called Sweets that's coming out through Image starting in July. I've always known Kody could draw, but this is his first outing as a writer and I'm excited to see what he can do. He's from southern Louisiana too, so I'm also looking forward to seeing how well he captures the flavor of one of the coolest cities in the world.

According to the solicit:
A spree killer terrorizes New Orleans days before Hurricane Katrina makes landfall. Detective Curt Delatte just buried his only daughter, and he's in no condition to work. But when the bodies pile up, he masks his grief and joins the hunt through the bowels of the Big Easy. It won't be long until his city--and his evidence--gets washed away.
There are preview pages in that link too, so check it out.

C2E2's Pulp Fiction Panel

This week's Gorillas Riding Dinosaurs was about C2E2's panel on the resurgence of Pulp, not only in comics, but in popular culture at large. It was a cool discussion that covered the merits of old Pulp vs the new stuff, how to make modern Pulp feel like classic Pulp, and the endurance of the genre in general.

Speaking of C2E2, I've finally got all my photos uploaded to Flickr if you want to see more.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

C2E2's Comics Media Panel

As I'm trying out a new way to use Twitter, I realize I've never linked to my report on the Comics Media panel at C2E2. It was a huge influence on my thinking about the use of Twitter (and Facebook), but was also useful in other ways. The value of being first with a story vs being best with it, for one. The need for readers to hold their news sources accountable, for another. It was a fascinating discussion and you can follow it in the link.


I've had a Twitter account for a while now; I just haven't figured out how to use it yet. I don't have the patience to text to it with constant updates about where I am and what I'm eating and I doubt anyone really wants to know that anyway. And just using it as an RSS feed for this blog feels like cheating somehow.

It occurred to me today though that I may be able to solve two problems at once. I've also been struggling with the time it takes to share links here on the blog. I'd much rather write a thoughtful review of Secrets of the Mountain or Dororo than spend time looking for images to go with just-announced movies, but the latter always squeezes out the former. If I move the links to Twitter, that'll free up time for longer pieces.

I'm going to try that for a while, so if you dig the newsy-linky stuff, just follow me on Twitter (at the link above or through the link in the sidebar) and you'll get the weeks-old news just like you're used to. I've also added a Twitter feed to the sidebar and I'm thinking about maybe doing a regular Twitter-recap post if I can figure out how to make that easy.

Feedback about this is very welcome. Please let me know if you hate it. I'm not sure I'm going to like it myself once I try it out.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Movie News: Might them find treasure?

New Treasure Island movie

The same Sherlock Holmes producer who's making a new Three Musketeers movie is also planning a Treasure Island remake. He's working hard at being my new Favorite Person in the World. [/Film]

Pirates 4 Casting Spoiler

Who is this woman playing in Pirates of the Caribbean 4? Check /Film for the answer, but be warned that there's a small spoiler in the revelation.

Avatar 2: The Oceans of Pandora

"The Oceans of Pandora" isn't the Avatar sequel's sub-title, it's just what the movie will likely be about. According to James Cameron, "Part of my focus in the second film is in creating a different environment – a different setting within Pandora. And I’m going to be focusing on the ocean on Pandora, which will be equally rich and diverse and crazy and imaginative, but it just won’t be a rain forest." He's quick to add though that "I’m not saying we won’t see what we’ve already seen; we’ll see more of that as well." [/Film]

Ka-Zar movie?

It's hard to tell which specifics in this CHUD article are based on fact and which are speculation, but while talking about Marvel's plans to follow up their blockbuster movies with a bunch of smaller-scale ones, Ka-Zar gets mentioned. For those who don't know, Ka-Zar is Marvel's take on Tarzan, only with a booty-kicking jungle wife, a pet sabretooth, mutant cavemen, and lots and lots of dinosaurs. How can this not be a movie?

CHUD doesn't mention it, but I also have to wonder if that long-rumored Shang Chi movie might finally get made now.

Demon guns, cursed cowboys, Black Widow, Oz the Great and Powerful, and Star Wars after the break.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Movie News: Chinese Cowboys and Other Seekers of Fortune and Glory

Robin Hood 2

The first one's not out yet, but they're already talking sequel. Apparently, Ridley Scott envisions the first one as the origin story and the sequel would follow Robin through the height of his career, possibly all the way to the signing of the Magna Carta. Though Scott describes that as 17 years of events, so is he possibly thinking of multiple sequels?

All this concerns me a bit for this first movie. Especially the part where Scott implies that you won't really get that Russell Crowe is Robin Hood until the last few minutes. I'm now trying to adjust my expectations from Russell-Crowe-as-Robin-Hood to Russell-Crowe-in-a-generic-medieval-adventure-film. That does require a large shift in thinking, but there's no reason that I wouldn't enjoy Russell Crowe in a generic, medieval adventure film directed by Ridley Scott. [/Film]

The Good, the Bad, the Weird

Make sure to check out the trailer for this Chinese adaptation of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. As much as I respect the original, this looks like a lot of fun. An Eastern Western with heavy Indiana Jones influences. [Updated: A commenter let me know that - while it's set in China and was shot there - the movie's actually Korean. And not half bad either.]

Buy Indy's hat

Speaking of the archeologist, his hat - signed by Harrison Ford - is up for auction and there are still a couple of days left to bid (the auction closes shortly after midnight on Thursday morning). Current bid as I'm typing this is over $10,000, so make sure that checkbook's balanced.

Joss Whedon, Clash of the Titans, and a couple of alien invasions after the break.

My next car is going to be a jetpack

For the last couple of years, personal jetpacks have been my Exhibit A for the way technology isn't yet where the twelve-year-old version of me expected it to be by now. Now I'm going to have to move on to flying cars.

James Bond fans may point out that jetpacks have been around since the '60s, but the one used in Thunderball was only able to stay in the air for about 26 seconds. This new one - developed by Martin Aircraft - flies for 30 minutes on a 5-gallon tank of regular premium gas. It'll go 8000 ft into the air and do more than 60 mph.

There's a weight restriction though (140-240 lbs) and of course the price tag is challenging ($86,000, but Martin expects that to drop as orders rise enough to streamline production), but the important thing is that they're here. And - according to this Gizmag article - the FAA is already working on the technology to create sky-highways. Which will also come in handy for our flying cars.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Art Show: Why Superman's a Putz


I told you I'd be back with more Fernando Lucas, so this post is heavy with his stuff. First up, I love these spaceship designs inspired by sea creatures. This is the dolphin one, but there's also an orca and a sperm whale in that link.

Superman doesn't hate cephalopods enough

By Kostenko Maxim. [/Film, who also has one of Spider-Man not noticing a giant dinosaur attack.]


By Joel Carroll. [Project: Rooftop]

Black Canary, Ghost Rider, Red Sonja, Professor Quantum, Deckard vs Batty, and She-Hulk after the break.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Art Show: Batman's got a gun!

Fish Sub

By Jeremy Vanhoozer.

The Beasts of Tarzan

By Neal Adams. Thanks to the Ballantine Books editions of the Tarzan stories I had as a kid, Adams' version of Tarzan will always be the definitive one for me. In fact, it was probably his covers that made me pick those books up in the first place and turned me into a Tarzan fan. [Illustrateurs has a whole bunch of them.]

Jungle Girl

By J Scott Campbell. [Sent to me in email by a friend who obviously knows me very well]

Batman, She-Hulk, Rogue, and a space girl after the break.

Pass the Comics: Eisner Edition

Robot 6 has links to the five webcomics nominated for Eisners this year. The Abominable Charles Christopher is one of them (and also one of my favorite comics - digital or otherwise), but the others I've never read before now.

I still haven't gone through each one completely, but I've read far enough into them to get a feel for the story and whether or not I'll like it. The only one that didn't grab me right away was Power Out, but maybe I didn't give it enough time. Someone let me know if I need to go back and check it out again.

Here are the three new comics I'll be following:


Bayou is the story of a young, Black girl growing up in the South when all it took to ruin your life was looking at a White person the wrong way. Though that period of history is important to wrestle with, the reason I'm talking about Bayou on the Adventureblog is that there's also a fantasy angle with wonderful - and horrifying - creatures living in the swamp. I haven't seen yet how they tie in with the social injustice aspects of the story, but I'm anxious to.

Sin Titulo

Sin Titulo doesn't immediately jump into the action, but it gets going very quickly. It's about a young man who learns that his grandfather has passed away in his care facility. While going through his grandfather's things, he finds a picture of a mysterious girl and becomes obsessed with finding out who she is. Things are complicated though when it becomes apparent that some of the facility's staff know more than what they're telling and are actively trying to prevent the grandson from learning more. It's a captivating mystery.

The Guns of Shadow Valley

The Guns of Shadow Valley is a horror western. That - and that it's nicely drawn - is all I really needed to understand about it to know I wanted to keep going, so I haven't dug too deeply. I plan to though, because it does a nice job of pulling you in.

Dracula visits the Planet of the Apes and fights Man-Thing

I apologize for the misleading subject line, but that was my first hope when I saw this cover; before I realized that it wasn't a team-up, but just a British collection of three, unrelated comics. Missed opportunity, guys. BIG missed opportunity.

I found the cover at Panelology, but don't blame him.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Comics News: Infamous Fiends and Timeless Terrors

Polly and the Pirates, Volume 2

I was disappointed when I first learned that Ted Naifeh wouldn't be illustrating the second volume of Polly and the Pirates (due early next year) himself, but I can't stay that way when Robbi Rodriguez' stuff looks so nice. Comic Book Resources has the preview.

Aqua Angst

The Aquaman Shrine has a helpful, aqua-centric review of Brightest Day #0 and... well, it's not so bright.
...this is the perfect moment to scrape off all the sturm und drang that's been dogging Aquaman like so many barnacles over the decades(!), and return the character to the courageous, confident, and almost happy-go-lucky adventurer and protector of the seas that he used to be. I'd hate to see Aquaman be put through all this, brought back to life, only to go right back to being Mr. Mopey again.
Like the Shrine, I understand the need to deal with the Darkness That's Come Before. There are people who've been following the story for a while and want to witness the barnacle-scraping for themselves. Me, I'll be looking forward to when it's all cleaned off.

Colonials, spies (one of them a gorilla), Alpha Flight in Hell, a skull-faced dude, Mulder and Scully go to Barrow, and a man punching skeletons after the break.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pass the Comics: Jungle Girls and Radioactive Dinosaurs

Kaänga and the Deathmaker

[The Comic Book Catacombs]

Rulah and the Devil's Daughter

[The Comic Book Catacombs]

Rulah and the Tumult on the Exploding Island

[The Comic Book Catacombs]

Rulah and the Flames of Fury

[The Comic Book Catacombs]

Tiger Girl vs the Glittering Women

[The Comic Book Catacombs]

Radioactive Dinosaur

[The Comic Book Cata-- I mean, Radioactive Dinosaur Comix. There's not a ton of plot, but there sure is a whole lot of rampaging.]

Comics News: Jurassic Park; Sanford and Shang; Luchadors vs Aliens

Jurassic Park: Redemption

I mentioned this in Gorillas Riding Dinosaurs, but IDW's going to be publishing Jurassic Park comics. The series takes place "thirteen years after the very first Jurassic Park motion picture and finds John Hammond’s grandchildren, Tim and Lex Murphy, as well-to-do young adults. While Lex is working with the UN to continue keeping people off of both Isla Nublar and Isla Sorna -- her brother Tim has other ideas about how to get their grandfather’s name back in good standing."

They've got some great artists lined up to do covers too, including Frank Miller, Art Adams, Paul Pope, Bernie Wrightson, and Bill Stout. It'll be written by Bob Schreck and illustrated by Nate Van Dyke.

Best idea for a sitcom ever

Wolkin's House of Chicken Waffles and Comics explains why.

Battle Smash

It's been a while since Viper came out with a new comic. This looks to be worth the wait.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

And we're back...

I'm home from C2E2. It was an excellent time and you can read all about it at Robot 6 (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday). I still need to write a report on the Pulp Fiction and Moonstone panels, but I'm saving that for my next Gorillas Riding Dinosaurs column.

Hard to believe that with this convention put to bed, there's less than a month until the next one...

I met a lot of people at C2E2 who are planning to hit SpringCon, so in addition to its usual fun self it'll be like a little reunion. Jess and I are planning to have some new Cownt stickers to give away and hopefully some T-shirts and other merchandise to sell while we're working on the next issue. Looking forward to seeing a lot of you guys there too.


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