Reviews

Read in awe as we deliver our stark opinions of the funnybooks we read!

z1x03

Oh dear god please let The Walking Dead spin off not turn out like this…
Yes I am still watching this and yes it is awful at times. They have a good idea and it is getting better.
This week the gang rolls in to Philly. I say “gang” because I still don’t care enough to look up the cast on IMDB and commit the names to memory. That is valuable real estate up here in my brain and Znation has not earned it yet. Long story short, bad guys kidnap spiky bat girl. Same bad guys the Asian girl used to live with. Think weird cult-ish cannibals like the family from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Led by a guy who must be an actor friend of the creator because there is no fucking way he won the audition for this part. He did not have the gravitas to convince people to do his bidding. I wouldn’t take directions from the guy as he was not believable in any way.
It was a good idea. People forced to prey on other people to survive. The group was just too weird and non threatening. Especially considering we have seen a few of them before, there should have been more buildup and this meeting should have been a bigger deal. I suppose they had to move it along as they are moving across the country and would not be in the area much longer, but it still felt like a wasted opportunity in a show full “almost there”, and “not quite right”.
I am convinced Garth from Supernatural is really there just to book end the episodes and most likely did all of his filming in one day. Even he is a bit unwatchable as he has nothing to act off from other than a dog.
I am going to pretend this entire episode was just zombies being killed by a flying Liberty Bell. I tried to find a video of that sequence but was not able to. It was the best part of the episode and we did watch it over and over for a bit.
Okay, I am going to try to put this in words. My problem with the show is the cast for the most part. The lead actor looks so much like Kirk Cameron that I think it’s really bearded Kirk Cameron. His acting isn’t bad. Everyone else however is a cliche or stupid or hammy… Like bat girl’s boyfriend. He wants to run off in to danger to save her. This is after the zombie apocalypse. If you are that fucking stupid as to run off without saying “Hey guys, let’s make a plan and do this right.” then how are you still alive? The black girl just threatens people. The selfish prisoner with the vaccine in his body is trying so hard to be an irredeemable asshole that it feels like he acting and not just an asshole. I don’t care how much of a dick you are, no one would be that harsh to people keeping them alive. It feels forced and fake. Old druggie guy just feels like every stereotype of a Grateful Dead fan I have ever seen. Then there is the sniper boy. Dark, quiet and mysterious. He is the Daryl Dixon of this show. Hopefully before the end of the season he hits puberty. He is far too young to take seriously in the role. Maybe better casting could pull it off, but no, he doesn’t work.
In fact the only other one that I am okay with is spiky bat girl. Mostly because she spends less time talking and more time hitting things. That might be something for the writers to focus on…
Next week we get Amish Zombies!!! This show gets more ridiculous as the weeks go one. Although the idea of region specific zombies I’ve not seen before, I am sure these guys will fuck it up somehow. Yet I still want to watch. This must be the “Sharknado Effect”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=bQ-vP7RU0rk

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This week The Strain had what I felt was another strong background episode that finished telling the back story of Abraham Setrakian. I am sure some felt the episode did not move the narrative forward far enough as we keep spending time with Abe in the past and Gus rather than pushing forward with the main plotline.
In flashbacks we get to see Abraham continue his fight against Eichorst well in to middle age. He leaves his wife behind to track him to a ruined castle in the mountains, only to find it was a trap. While he was finding a way to escape, Eichorst turns his wife, and now we know where the infected heart in the bell jar comes from.
Meanwhile Ephraim questions Abraham’s stability after he tried to take on a den of thousands of infected the previous week. Hacker girl returns with a plan to hack the emergency broadcast system that delivers with Ephraim making a plea to the country.
Eichorst then shows up with goons. Nora’s mom gets infected so Nora is forced to kill her, and everyone escapes through a convenient hidden escape tunnel. In the meat locker. In an antique store. Must be for the perishable antiques.
That was pretty much the episode. In truth not a lot happened in the here and now. Something stood out to me though. As I have stated before I have not read the books or comics and have no knowledge of this story at all. I think Abraham is going to die. We now know everything about him that has any dramatic purpose to it. I was always curious about someone like David Bradley signing on to a television show. Besides being amazing, he is also old. A television schedule can be brutal, and at this point I am certain he can pick and choose his roles. I cannot imagine he wants to do this for five years. Plus now that we know his entire narrative arc for all intents and purposes, the only thing dramatic left for his character is to die. I hope I am wrong as seeing him is a treat.
Lastly there was this:

soldier

The creepy soldier-vamp-killer things are back. The ones that showed up at the tail end of one episode and we totally forgot about them? They show up to save Gus from a shipping container full of infected. I want to like them, but we are now at the season finale and no hint or back story has been given at all. I think it is fairly obvious they are going to somehow save the heroes’ asses at the end, and I feel like we may be cheated out of a good finale as this element has not earned it’s place in the story yet.
So here we are with a promo for the season finale, “The Master”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=x-PRQSlGWRY

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This is a strange one and oddly enough, my favorite of the season so far. It would seem many people on the internet disagree with me, but this episode I feel like I finally know this new Doctor. Peter Capaldi has been great in every episode so far, and maybe it is the cumulative effect of them all, but I feel like everything has finally clicked in to place.

The story is pretty straight forward. Dormant alien killing machine is woken up near the Coal Hill School where Clara works so the Doctor goes undercover as the new janitor to seek it out and deal with it. That is not the real story though. The real story is Clara has a boyfriend and the Doctor, in his awkward way is trying to vet him to make sure he is good enough for her. The rest just happens but this is the true heart of the episode.

It was full of laugh out loud moments and lots of the Doctor just showing why he is not good with people. The last few Doctors would have waltzed in and charmed the socks off everyone. The Twelfth Doctor though is not capable of that. He is brash and cold and condescending. He spends most of the episode ragging on Danny Pink (Clara’s BF) for being a former soldier. This season has already shown the Doctor does not like soldiers. Maybe because of all the fighting he has been forced to do. He doesn’t seem to think someone as enlightened as Clara could like someone so rudimentary. He tells her she has made “A boyfriend error.” He comes off like quite a dick actually. It isn’t until the end when Danny puts it all together and says to her:

Danny: That’s alright. Doesn’t matter. I don’t need him to like me. It doesn’t matter if he likes me or hates me, I just need to do exactly one thing for you. Doctor, am I right?
The Doctor: Yes.
Clara: What? What one thing?
Danny: I need to be good enough for you. That’s why he’s angry, just in case I’m not.

Right there the look on the Doctors face says quite a bit about this new man. He may be standoffish and weird and antisocial, but he truly does care.

This was an 8 or 9 for me. I always prefer characterization over action. Moves the important stuff along. It does seem like they are working toward Clara having to choose between her life in the Tardis and her future with Danny.
Here is a sneak peek at next weeks episode, “Kill The Moon”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=q7GZfXwhfVs

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Tuesday evening saw the season premiere of Marvel’s Agents of Shield. It was a much better and far more promising start to a show that has garnered many mixed reviews. I for one enjoyed the first season. Most likely because I understood what the show was supposed to be about and was fine with allowing a new cast time to grow in to the roles. I also just greatly enjoy seeing Clark Gregg in anything just because.
The premiere certainly carried on from the darker and much better last quarter of last season. The big news being the introduction and apparent death of Lucy Lawless’ character. I was sad to see her go as this seemed like a solid addition to the cast. It would also be wrong not to mention Brett Dalton’s new and broken interpretation of Hydra traitor Grant Ward. Locked up in a high tech prison cell, he is clearly not okay. He has basically decided he will do anything they ask because he loves Skye. It is creepy and disturbing to say the least. Dalton must be having a blast with this and I hope they don’t fix him for awhile.
Another high point is the introduction of The Absorbing Man! Wow, how cool was that? Pretty much spot on casting there and if you haven’t seen it yet then you are in for a treat. I look forward to seeing more.
There was also a wonderful opening featuring Peggy Carter and The Howling Commandos. It was a nice way to start, but I am sure is more about setting up her own series.
I liked that they didn’t even bring up the craziness that seemed to be happening with Coulson at the end of last year. I am sure it will come up, but I already spent a season watching him wonder if he can trust himself. Now we get to wonder if he can be trusted for another season? I really hope not. They have put the team in such a great and dark place that I think there are other more interesting things to focus on.
Lastly, there was an emotional moment last night that I did not see coming. We spend the whole episode seeing Simmons seemingly trying to help Fitz who clearly has some brain damage as a result of last seasons finale. He has trouble remembering things and finding the words he is trying to say. She keeps telling him he is coming along and he will get back to normal. Though at the end we find out that Fitz has not been the same, talks to himself, and Simmons left awhile ago thinking it might be easier on Fitz. Basically he is hallucinating and seems to have no idea. Very sad.
It was a great episode. 7 out of 10. It seems this year is going to be much better than last year. Oh, I almost forgot. Skye isn’t annoying anymore.
Here is the promo for next week “Heavy Is The Head”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVFTDu-8II0&feature=player_detailpage

strain1x11

Have you been watching “The Strain”?  You should be.

The most common complaint I hear about this show is it tends to have slow periods where there is less action and lots of talking.  That does not bother me but there may be another reason for that.  This show is based on a series of novels that eventually became a comic series.  Now it has been stated about the first episode that the comic served as a story board for the episode almost panel for panel.  I have stayed away from the comic for fear of being spoiled, but I would love to know if that has continued to be the case for the subsequent episodes.  In that case I cannot fault a show for sticking with the source material as well as this first season would equate to about a years worth of comics.  There are always slow issues where characters are built and stories weaved.  Regardless, I feel like this show does for vampires what The Walking Dead did for zombies.  This isn’t a sparkly teen angst vamp.  Or oversexed movie star good looks vamps like True Blood.  The Strain makes vampires scary again.  Twisted, soulless, long tongued freaks who shit as much as they eat, and as they eat.  Luckily for broadcast tv you can only see those stains under UV light, but it still paints a nasty picture that is as far removed from Twilight as Max Schreck in 1922’s Nosferatu.  Watch this show folks.

Without recapping the whole season it is enough to says Sunday’s episode was fast moving and creepy.  David Bradley continues to floor me as this universes version of a Vanhelsing, in the guise of Abraham Zetrakian.  If you have not seen Mr. Bradley in the Harry Potter movies or last falls An Adventure In Time And Space, then you may not know what you are missing.  This is a classic actor.  He has been doing this since our parents were kids, and damn if he doesn’t have presence.  We finally get to see just how rageful and irrational he can get when faced with the enemy he has been fighting since his days as a prisoner in Nazi Germany.  This man has hunted the “Strigoi” for six decades, and it is a long hate that finally shows.

The rest of the cast as usual perform well.  The big Russian Vasily Fet and the main protagonist Ephraim Goodweather have developed a bickering hate dynamic that comes across completely believable.   About the only issue I have with the show and last nights episode comes down to one thing.

For those who do not know, the main bad guy is voiced by genre living legend Lance Henriksen.  Google him if you aren’t already in awe.  Anyhow, the problem is they mixed his voice with a bunch of other voices to create a creepy effect that effectively negates bringing in someone with that kind of weight.  Not only does it not sound like him, I can’t understand a damn thing it says.  Luckily it doesn’t talk much.  This week they finally had their first encounter with “The Master” deep in the abandoned subway tunnels of NYC.  This lead to the discovery of what looked like thousands of nesting new vamps getting ready to destroy the world.

That’s the thing about this show.  This isn’t one of those deals where only the heroes know what is going on.  The internet was purposefully crashed to prevent the spread of information, but people are dying in the streets.  This is a take over of the world not just some secret plot hidden from view.  I would not be shocked if the next season takes place post Vampocalypse because it certainly seems plausible.

And we are one episode closer to that with next weeks episode, “Last Rites”…

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Elkanp_jE30

sleepy hollow

 

Oh my crazy new friend, how nice it is to have you back!

Last night Sleepy Hollow had its season 2 premiere on Fox and this show has not lost a thing during its hiatus.   There was no hand holding of new viewers or attempt to bring you up to speed.  It is a show that is confident in its bat shit craziness and seems to hold nothing back.

What stood out to me most of all was the world building that has been done prior.  This show has its own mythos.  It is already rich, full of history and rules that extends from ghosts and purgatory to most of the founding fathers being well versed in how to fight the supernatural.  It is quite nutty, but it acknowledges that and pushes through without so much as a pause.  I found myself knowing these rules even though this is still a relatively new show.  It has a shorthand with its consistent viewers and I found myself understanding the way this fictional world works much the way I already know how the world of Supernatural works after watching it for nine years.

So as for the episode itself?  9 out of 10.  It most certainly resolves last years cliffhanger with a slightly dubious escape from being buried alive(I will have to Google that to see if it is possible), and from there establishes the new status quo.  It is nice to see John Noble in what seems to be a permanent role.  Watching him play a villain is captivating and a crown jewel in an already impressive cast.  With Ichabod’s wife now alive in the real world but a prisoner of the headless horseman, it did strike me that his stake in all this did not really change much.  Same deal for him, find Katrina.  The stakes for the rest of the world have risen with Moloch upping his game to invade Earth and bring about the end of days.

I cannot wait to see what this season brings.  For a second year show, Sleepy Hollow really feels as if they know what they are doing and are firing on all cylinders.  Here is the promo for next weeks ep, “The Kindred”.

 

 

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=J2Q8WPTrD-M

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Ok, so I just finished watching the pilot episode of Gotham ( Mondays 8pm est on Fox) and out of the gate, it didn’t measure up to all of the hype. Was it bad? absolutely not. It certainly wasn’t great but definitely worth a watch.

First of all for the uninitiated, Gotham is the story of Gotham City before Batman, it’s already a seedy place and it looks to be falling into worse shape. We are invited to follow along as rookie detective James Gordon ( Ben McKenzie shines in the role ) begins his legendary career with the Gotham City Police Department.  Jim is portrayed here as “The most honest man there is” as his fiance literally spells out for us. He is a idealistic former soldier and a heroic golden boy, oh and apparently he’s a legacy in Gotham, his dad was the District Attorney back in the day. Gordon is partnered up with a grizzled veteran of the streets, Harvey Bullock ( portrayed here by Donal Logue ). Bullock understands how the game works in Gotham and tries to make Gordon see this throughout the episode but Gordon isn’t hearing it ( at least until the end of the episode, naturally ). The motivating factor for the series seems to be the most famous double murder in comic book history, which we are forced to watch play out in the opening minutes of the show. It’s brutal, tough to watch and expertly handled.

From that point on, we begin to meet many of the other players that will have a part in the ongoing narrative and there are A LOT of them. Almost too many for the first outing. The writers apparently really wanted to toss easter egg cameos at us. In the span of the first 30 minutes we’re introduced to Gordon, Bollock, Bruce Wayne, Alfred Pennyworth, Edward Nygma ( The riddles getting shut down was funny but working for the GCPD? Seriously? ) Ivy Pepper ( I’m sure they meant Pamela Isley since, y’know,  every time we saw the little redhead she was surrounded by plants ), Oswald Cobblepot ( if they made one more penguin reference I was going to scream…. WE GET IT, He’s the fricken Penguin! ) Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen and then there was that little unnamed CAT burglar girl who kept showing up… wonder who THAT is?

I initially said it didn’t live up to the hype and that’s definitely true. Some of the plot seems weak and then there were some of the storytelling choices that were made that left me cringing ( why the hell were we getting those extreme close up shots of Gordon’s face when he was chasing Pepper? that  looked terrible and was just weird!)

All in all it was still a cool show. One that I’ll keep watching for now.  It has it’s issues but I’m optimistic that they will work themselves out ( Just like Arrow did, so settle down out there haters )

Here’s a look at episode 2 : “Selina Kyle”

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Znation is such a mixed bag…

On one hand they seem to want you to take the show seriously.  On the other, zombie dog sled driver.  I wish I was kidding…

So here is a show that is trying very hard.  The effects are ok for tv and I can’t say anything truly bad about the acting.  It is straight up acceptable but not stellar.  The largest problem it has is making you care about them.  For instance, this weeks episode opened with the character played by DJ Qualls at Camp Northern Lights somewhere up north.  From now on he will be known as Garth from Supernatural because I can’t recall his name.  Or any of the other characters for that matter.  They aren’t doing a bad job, but they were all introduced at once and two shows in I still don’t know or care to be bothered to memorize their names.   The first few eps of a show need to be about world building, which they have not done a very good job at.

As an example, first ep was all fast zombies.  This week they were old Romero style zombies.  Maybe there is a reason.  Maybe it is the recently turned versus the long dead.  Maybe you should tell me because I don’t know the rules of your world yet, and until you do I am going to assume you suck at continuity.

So Garth, who is all alone at an arctic base and the sole voice of the government to the survivors is visited by zombie dog sled driver.  I suppose he could have been bitten and turned while driving but, no, I won’t make excuses.  This turn of events leads him to get a cute dog to share the end of the world with.  That is after they kill the zombie dog that came along with it.  Yup, zombie dog.  Also, zombie in a wheel well.  That was actually cool.

Cut to the other survivors(we will call them, ummm, how about Them) attempting to get gas from a refinery that was overrun at the start of the apocalypse.  Good idea.  Leads to some neat oil covered zombies and one shot of a huge gas tank full of zombie which is something I have never seen before.  Also shows something I think will be the new “Sexposition”(Game Of Thrones”, Goresposition.  There was a pretty big info dump while two characters were going up a stair case and killing zombies but talking as if they were sipping coffee at a Starbucks.  Shows how used they are to the world they live in and struck me as a bit funny.

Also, Subways Fresh Buzz must have decided that The Walking Dead was too expensive because they do this now.

The rest of the episode was stupid choices like everyone getting away from zombies but leaving the gas truck next to things that can explode.  Yup.  It’s like they are all Carl from The Walking Dead.  Every decision is bad.  I wall call them all “The Carls” now.

 

That being said it was still enjoyable.  6 out of 10 if you compare it to similar fare.  9 out of 10 for the SyFy channel.  Also next week they make Philly and the preview below makes me want to see it.  Liberty Bell zombie kills.  Let that sink in.  At least they are having fun with it.

 

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=ke96C4x6tgQ

timeheist

This is the first edition of an as yet unnamed column recapping current genre television in what is hopefully a timely manner.  Given that I am the resident Doctor Who geek I suppose there is no better place to start than with last night’s episode of Doctor Who, Time Heist.  For the record, this blog is not a recap.  I will not being going through each scene and recapping everything said as I would not enjoy watching with a note book and taking notes.  If you want a full recap there are plenty of places to find such a thing.

Season 8 episode 5, Time Heist

After last weeks near classic Listen, this is certainly a change of pace.  Time Heist is primarily a caper.  A bank robbery story with all the slow motion montages that one would expect.  I was concerned that they would over do the references to other classic heist movies, but it was just there enough to notice it.  The story revolves around the Doctor, Clara, and two strangers waking up in a room with their memory wiped and a recording of them agreeing to this wipe prior and with instructions to rob the most secure bank in the universe.  Clearly they had learned something that made them agree to do this job and agreed their memory had to be wiped beforehand.  It was interesting seeing them put together the pieces of the puzzle as the episode went on.

One thing that stood out was Clara.  So far this season she has been a highpoint.  Her development and characterization being worlds better than the previous season.  Every episode thus far she has been front and center, almost stealing the show.  Tonight however she was somewhat relegated to the background.  No putting the Doctor in his place, she was more standard companion.  The episode is not hurt by this because there is a lot going on.

The villain is typical Moffat fare, but the creature in the episode was pretty neat.  He is referred to as “The Teller”.  Bank Teller.  Telepathic?  Anyhow, the effects on it were fairly neat, and its purpose seemed to fit more than other creatures that show up as a plot device.  Likewise the Doctor’s purpose in robbing the bank made perfect sense in the final reveal as while everyone else was there for some personal gain, he and Clara were there for a far more noble reason.

That is in stark contrast with the way the Doctor behaves.  Again he is kind of a jerk, not getting upset if someone dies and being very pragmatic about everything.  It all feels very Tom Baker.  Each week Peter Capaldis portrayal gets better and better.  He truly feels like the smartest man in the world who has no clue about the small and simple things.  My favorite line from the episode being when he first arrives and finds Clara getting ready to go out on a date and she has make up and heels on:

The Doctor: Are you taller?

Clara: Heels.

The Doctor: What, do you have to reach a high shelf?

Clara: Right, gotta go, gonna be late!

The Doctor: For a shelf?

 

In the interest of playing catch up since this is my first blog and we are a bit in to the season:  This new Doctor really feels like he is going to be special.  Right now it is a bit rough, because I could easily see the previous Doctor in these episodes.  That may be because I am sure while writing at least the first half of this season, none of the writers knew what the 12th Doctor was going to be like.  These first few eps may have been written with Matt Smith(Doctor 11) still fresh in the mind and no clear direction for the new guy.  I feel that as time goes on and stories are written FOR this Doctor, we may have someone to rival the best of the classic series Doctors.

That being said, Time Heist as a 7 out of 10.  Not a thing bad to say about it, not a filler episode, just a solid and fun outing that everyone in the family seemed to enjoy.

Next week we get “The Caretaker”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=s3mO79TCRCM

GotG

PG-13 2hr 2 min Action/ Fantasy

 4andaHalf Stars

 

  I need to start this off with a disclaimer: I’m a HUGE fan of these characters. The Cosmic heroes are my thing. When I first heard they were going to adapt the Guardians for the big screen, I was cautiously optimistic. I’d been burned before , Green lantern broke my heart, but this was Marvel Studios, they hadn’t disappointed me yet. Initially deemed as a risky endeavor, this looked like it was going to have an uphill battle from the start. With that in mind I closely monitored every detail as it unfolded. As the Marvel / Disney Hype Machine throttled into high gear, I let the excitement overtake me and I actually forgot the misery that was my Green Lantern cinematic experience. It wasn’t until I was sitting in that darkened theater last night that I started to get nervous again. Would I be let down again? Well let me shoot straight with you:

NO. FLARKING. WAY*

            This movie was phenomenal! My personal favorite comic book movie to date! It’s not without fault ( I’m looking at you after Credits scene ) but I was glued to the screen the entire time, aside from the 3 minute pee-break I was forced to take during what my buddies tell me was the “most hilarious: part of the film ( “and I need that guy’s eye” ) So on to my honest mostly spoiler-free review of Guardians of the Galaxy:

            This isn’t your typical Marvel movie. This is definitely a bona fide big budget Space Opera but it’s so much more than that. This movie is a gold mine of goofy humor and sci-fi action… and heart a lot of heart. You are made to care about these characters almost instantly. The opening scene is a real tear-jerking heart wrencher for D’ast* sakes! The main cast are smartly written three dimensional characters. These are ordinary ( by comic book standards ) people that are realistically flawed and pushed into extraordinary situations. You quickly come to care about them, you’re invested in their journey.

            What a journey it is! Adventure, dramatic tension, exotic locations ( Xandar!, The Kyln!!, Knowhere!!!! ) , Epic Space battles, Dance-Offs ( No, really. ) and the Nova Corps. The character and environment designs were outstanding, the villains instilled a real sense of danger. Ronan radiated a sense of fear and all kinds of bat shit-crazy and then there was Thanos…. His brief appearance was enough to whip the audience into fangasm!

            This film was a cosmic comics fan’s dream come true. It shattered all of my expectations. It was a nearly perfect movie with the perfect mix of fun, action and heart. It gets a 4 ½ stars instead of a perfect 5 only because I was severely disappointed with the after credits scene.

            Final Thoughts: Go see this movie, you will not be disappointed! I’m heading out again this weekend for at least one more viewing!

* if you don’t understand these references, you need to go read Guardians of the Galaxy. Shame on you!