Sunday, November 27, 2011

Empire Magazine Gets "Knighted"

Hi everybody! Check out the December edition of Empire Magazine. Looks like there will be a pretty heavy spotlight on The Dark Knight Rises if the duel covers featuring Batman and Bane is any indication. I read that this was supposed to hit stands on the 24th which I thought was pretty weird because of the holiday and all. Nevertheless I hot footed it to my local Books-A-Million after Thanksgiving dinner hungry for some Batmany "dessert" despite having fully maxed out on my levels of Turkey intake. For the next few minutes I scoured the racks with all the driven intensity of a Black Friday shopper on their third can of red bull but unfortunately all that turned up was the November issue. Rest assured I will probably be making near daily stops their until a magazine sporting each cover is nestled safely on my book shelf. 
I suppose it goes without saying that I am really digging what I am seeing with these covers and I have no idea what the deal is with that flashlight gun Batman is packing only that it tops my Christmas list if beaten out only slightly by Batman: Arkham City which I am still dying to play. I can't get over how physically menacing and flat out scary Bane looks in this picture. I am sure that the "Shredder" like mouth guard will have some practical application in the film but from a purely visual sense it evokes the idea of a rabid animal that has to be muzzled. I cannot wait for this movie. July 20th needs to get here tomorrow!


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Immortals Review

I love Greek mythology. Ever since freshmen English were we had a section devoted to the study of Zeus, Hades, and the extended pantheon of superhuman deities my imagination was captured by these magnificient, otherworldly beings who wield almost unlimited cosmic power and yet are still mired by the same unsavory inclinations toward greed, pettiness, and depravity that ensnare much of humanity. It is this inescapable human condition and the fireworks that ensue on a colossal scale that makes them so interesting to study and read about.
There have been quite a few films that have taken a crack at depicting the Greek gods in all of their overwhealming splendor, more often than not with quite underwhealming results. (Hercules in New York anyone?) The latest of these is "Immortals," a truly ambitious film that has a great deal in common with contemporary films of the same vein like 300 (yah!) and Clash of the Titans (meh) while still managing to be quite unique its own art-house, surrealist kind of way
The story centeres around a young man named Theseus who lives a quiet life with his mother in a coastal village and wants no part in a brewing conflict with the vicious sado masochistic mask wearing Heraklion army led by the ruthless and bloodthirsty king Hyperion. But it does not take long for this simple man of the land to convert to full on Rambo mode as Thesus's village is razed by the sadistic tyrant and his mother is killed in the slaughter. After escaping from slavery with the help of a virgin oracle whom he in turn helps "un-virgianize" Theseus vows to do whatever it takes to stop Hyperion in the rulars relentless quest to a acquire the mythical Epirus Bow, a weapon with the power to kill a god with which he intends to slay the immortals of Olympus themselves.
Meanwhile, the Greeks gods watch the drama unfold from above on an immaculate citadel resting in the clouds. Zeus, who, disguised as an old man, has secretly been mentoring Theseus since he was a small boy expressly forbids the other members of his heavenly host to interfere in the affairs of men but Hermes, Poseidon, etc. are beginning to get antsy at the thought of having their immortality threatened by humans and do not heed their paragon's ruling for long.
This movie is absolutely gorgeous to look at. The filmakers dynamic use bold colors and epic landscapes amplify the film's surreal like quality and makes one feel as if they are witnessing actual mythology unfold on screen. I really wish the overall story had measured up to the sheer awesomness displayed in the visuals but unfortunately the movie is brought down a few pegs by a flimsy, generic and cliche' ridden narrative lacking in subtance or moral ambiguety. Henry Cavill and Micky Rourke both do a fine job of portraying the film's central characters of Thesesus and King Hyperion but neither really manages to add much in the way of dimensionality to their standard, typical action piece character molds of selfless hero and megalomaniacal villain. In fact, Thesus's character arc is almost exactly like that of the main character in Clash of the Titans from his humble upbringing, to being spurned to action by the death of a loved one, initially rejecting the gods before later accepting their influence on his life. Oh, and getting the girl.
In closing, even though Immortals leaves something to be desired in terms of storytelling and characterization, the movie is worth seeing for its breathtaking depiction of the ancient world in all its savage beauty.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Batman: Noel Review

In Lee Bermejo's Batman: Noel, Charles Dickens classic story of "A Christmas Carole" gets a radical re-interpretation with none other than the brooding, obsessive, winged avenger of Gotham filling in for Scrooge, the grouchy old miser who in the course of one night, is visited by three spirits and chooses to change his stripes and turn over a new leaf.
Going along with the Scrooge theme, the Batman we are presented with in this story is very much a calloused, jaded, and cynical man. Although he once burned with youthful enthusiasm and the desire to be a catalyst for change in a fallen city, we see now that years of battling the absolute worst society has to offer has left him cold, suspicious, and unable to see the good in people anymore.
His mood is not improved in the slightest by the fact that The Joker, Gotham's most notorious psychopathic killer and Batman's sworn enemy has recently escaped from Arkham asylum and is at large.
Mirroring Scrooge's longsuffering employee is a down on his luck single father appropriately named "Bob" who, in a desperate attempt to bring in some extra income for him and his son becomes implicated in a cash drop for The Clown Prince of Crime. The job quickly goes awry when Bob is caught by Batman who suscpects the Joker will come after him because of his failure and decides to use him as bait to lure his enemy out.
Later that night, Batman is forced to re-evaluate his rash decisions regarding Bob and his black and white perception of humanity in general when he is visited by three characters, each symbolizing a particular period of his crime fighting career, who help him get back in touch with the hero he once was and the hero he can be again.
 Simply put, Batman: Noel is an engrossing gem of a story that manages to pay homage to its inspiration while putting its own exciting superhero twist on Dicken's thought provoking moral fable. Words simply fail to do justice to Lee Bermejo's stunning artwork. His Gotham feels like an actual living breathing city wrought with all the societal ailments of any sprawling metropolitan area. His Batman is a forboding gargoyle coursing with power and intimidation while his unique rendition of The Joker is more likely than not the most downright terrifying version of the character ever to appear in comics. Every panel pulsates with so much energy and attention to detail that it staggers me how much thought and pre-planning must have been put into this book. So if you are a fan of The Caped Crusader or just good, meaningful stories in general then I strongly encourage you to give Batman: Noel a try.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Puss in Boots Review.

It was simply a matter of time before this funny, fiesty, sword slinging feline got a movie of his own. Ever since he slinked on to the scene in Shrek II, the cute little cat with the flair and mentality of a hot blooded Spanish outlaw quickly rose to become one of the most popular characters in the franchise. With the Shrek movies seemingly  having come to an end, it only made sense for Dreamworks to want to exploit the popularity of its furry, whiskererd anti-hero in a spin-off movie.
Now, it should be noted that I am a cat lover so it was next to impossible for me to view the movie impartially, but preferences aside I must admit that I was completely charmed by the story and its host of memorable characters.
Set some time before his adventures with Shrek. Puss in Boots tells the story of the pointy eared Latin firebrand living life on the run as a bandit hunted by the law. In his daring escapades, Puss crosses paths with an estranged friend, Humpty Dumpty, who convinces Puss to help him steal some magic beans which are the key to finding the real treasure, golden eggs inside a fabled castle resting in the clouds. The only problem is that the beans are safegaurded by Jack and Jill. A rough looking couple no one else is in a hurry to cross paths with. There to assist the two on their dangerous mission is Kittie Soft Paws, a sneaky little minx who proves to be quite the match for the match for the movies booted protagonist.
Plain and simple this movie was just a ton of fun for both children and adults. Although it consists of mainly of talking animals and fairy tale characters the movie never becomes too silly and the characters and their motivations are each unique and interesting. The story and its innovative twists on classic fairy tale figures is clever and engaging all the way through and the voice actors (Antonio Banderas, Selma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis) who bring the characters to life do a fantastic job. I went to see this with my Grandmother and we both had a great time watching it. I would recommend Puss in Boots to anyone even if, heaven forbid, they are not a cat lover.