Tag Archives: reviews

Double Disney

maleficent-2014I’m joined in the reaction chamber by Petra and we take on a double dose of Disney films. Maleficent is the box office darling right now, but our reaction to the film is less than enthusiastic. By the same token we finally get around to watching The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer – a film that was nearly universally panned. And we got really excited about it. The short version of the podcast is: skip Maleficent and go see The Lone Ranger.

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Sunstones and Shadowguard

10970782Every so often, I come across a book series that really intrigues me with elements of the setting. Because I really enjoyed his “Keys to the Kingdom” series, I put some faith in Garth Nix and picked up “The Seventh Tower” series.

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Superman vs The Elite

In 2001’s Action Comics #775 , writer Joe Kelly asked the question, “What’s so funny about Truth, Justice, and the American Way?” Kelly was responding in part to a trend in comic books that embraced heroes that took extreme actions towards their villains, often killing or permanently maiming their foes. The violent trend is one part reaction to the “revolving prison door” trope that allows series fiction to reuse villain characters, and one part the emergence into the field of a generation of creators that came of age in the 80s and 90s. Publishers Dark Horse and Image Comics built their entire businesses around providing consumers with content graphically depicting violence and brutality, and populated by heroes and villains that embraced the narcissistic nihilism of a generation raised with a dominantly post-modern viewpoint that insisted on deconstructing any kind of ethical or moral standard.

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Battleship Down

The trailers for Battleship give everything away, if anything can be said to be secret about a movie based on Hasbro’s popular board game. There are naval vessels. There are aliens. They fight. Without any related IP baggage of any kind, Battleship had the freedom to make a great naval warfare movie; I’m even willing to give them the aliens just because the sci-fi geek in me screams at the thought of World War II class 16 inch guns firing 2000 pound shells at E.T. I’ve seen Midway, Victory at Sea, and In Harm’s Way. I knew what to expect from a movie about naval warfare. I expected carnage. I expected explosions. I expected fleets of ships in classic naval maneuvers that pushed through deep water and came home bloody but unbroken. I hoped for David Weber’s Honor Harrington on the ocean. As it is, this film barely made it out of the harbor, let alone onto the roll of honored dead.

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The Odds Favor a Sequel

Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games” debuted in US theaters this week, to much hype and the attendance of many teenagers. For both of you who may be unfamiliar with this violent work of chick-lit, in a dystopian future, The Capitol forces each of the 12 Districts in the nation to send a pair of teenagers to fight to the death in the annual Hunger Games. Think “A Clockwork Orange” meets “The Running Man” and you get the basic look and feel of the movie. The book series was aggressively advertised as a sci-fi action novel – which it most definitely is not. The movie suffers from the same poor marketing, as it is being portrayed as an action film when it is in fact a drama of the much more ordinary sort. Which isn’t to say it’s not a decent enough movie.

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With a Vengeance

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance roared into theaters this weekend, and I squeezed some time out to catch an early matinee. I’ve been a Ghost Rider fanboy since 1982, when Roger Stern shared the writing credits with J.M. DeMatteis. I read my older brother’s abandoned comic books under the covers with a flashlight, thrilling to the explosive action of a guy who rode a flaming motorcycle, and horrified at the tortures Johnny Blaze underwent in his quest for redemption. Those stories were equal parts morality play and schlock horror, and I loved every minute of it. Many years later, Chuck Dixon and Mark Texeira brought more adult sensibilities to the story, along with a new origin, purpose, and powers for the Ghost Rider. At the same time, Marvel reprinted the final issues of the 1973 run – the very issues that had hooked me on the character – and I came to appreciate the storytelling on an entirely different level. Although the Ghost Rider has appeared in a few cartoons, he’s never had a major motion picture, and I anticipated eagerly the release of the 2007 picture. Five years later, I’m still excited to see another theater release, and I’m hoping for a better  treatment of the character.

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Shining Spirit Blade of Victory

It’s hard to talk about Spirit Blade without sounding like either a raving fanboy or a nitpicky hater. I purchased the first edition of this story to listen to it in the car on family vacation. I was immediately hooked. The audio design was wholly immersive, the music was resonant and complex, the lyrics were clearly extremely personal. I wound up buying copies for all of my friends and family (Christmas was conveniently near). Not satisfied with his original product, Paeter Frandsen (the creator at Spirit Blade Productions) remastered and released the Special Edition two years later, putting to good use the experience he gained in producing the sequel – Spirit Blade: Dark Ritual – and Pilgrim’s Progress: Similitude of a Dream.

The Special Edition makes everything that was good about the original into something truly remarkable, without actually fixing any of the flaws in the production. Even so, this is both the creator’s and this listener’s preferred production of this story.

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Asgardian Box Office

Curtis and I gather round the coffee table to kick around Thor. Not harshly, mind, but we do feel that it needs to be kicked a bit. I really wanted to like this movie in the same way that I like Iron Man or the Incredible Hulk. Unfortunately, the result was somewhat lackluster – with a story that just didn’t live up to the potential of its characters. Nevertheless, there is a great deal of good stuff going on in this movie, and we found it to be an acceptable offering, if not a particularly outstanding one.

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Corporate Oppressors

Released now, calculated to bring as little benefit or press to the film as possible, Curtis and I break down as much of “Avatar” as we can stomach. We lay the entirety of the blame at James Cameron’s doorstep – he really ought to know better. We do some side trails into the fad that is the current generation of 3D movies, “Prince of Persia” – which we both really enjoyed, in spite of my frustrated rant about the ending, and then plug upcoming RPG projects here at Critical Press Media. Hey, it’s worth repeating: look for OpenD6: Agents to hit digital download and POD before the end of the summer!

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Violent Chick-Lit

If you’ve missed the media hype surrounding Suzanne Collins’ dystopian sci-fi trilogy “The Hunger Games”, then you may in fact consider yourself fortunate. The guys and I sit around the round table and break down the trilogy of novels, including spoiling the plot and determining that the target audience is in fact – chicks. You’ll get plenty of warning and the magic of podcasting so that you can actually read the books if you still desire to do so. If not, check out the full scoop on this violently dystopian sci-fi beststeller. Also, head over to the Two-Fisted Blogger and check out my review on his site, as well as other articles about dude-lit.

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