The X-Women

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Movie Review - THE INCREDIBLE HULK (2008)

I think the concensus is that this is how the first Hulk movie should have been. More Hulk smash, less talk. Edward Norton is a perfect fit as Bruce Banner, the man on the run who is trying to find a cure for his special condition. Of course the government tracks him down to harness his blood cells so they can make the perfect weapon. William Hurt is Gen Ross who leads the charge to capture banner. He is very good in his role as is Tim Roth, a wily soldier who after a confrontation with the Hulk decides he wants some of that awesome power for himself. He will soon become The Abomination. Also on hand is Liv Tyler as Bruce's one time love Betty. She assumes the role from Jennifer Connelly and makes the character even better. I liked her portrayal way more than Connelly. Now the effects are much improved from the first film. This Hulk looks a lot more convincing. And the action scenes rock. Plus there's that cameo by Tony Stark aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) that pretty much seals the deal on this entertaining summer movie.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Movie Review: THE LOSERS

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The Losers is a cool movie based on a comic book series that bears more than a little resemblance to The A-Team. Except that this crew is a little bit more colorful. There's team leader Clay (played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who played The Comedian in another comic book film adaptation, The Watchmen); Roque (Idris Elba); Pooch (Columbus Short); Jensen (Chris Evans, ex Human Torch of the Fantastic Four films); and Cougar (Oscar Jaenada). They form an elite CIA Black Ops team that on their latest mission has to take down a South American bad guy. Problem is they get framed for a crime they didn't commit and are left for dead. Unable to return stateside, the guys try to eke out a living in South America when a mysterious woman named Aisha (played by the sultry Zoe Saldana, fresh off her one two punch of 2009's Star Trek and Avatar) comes calling. She offers them a deal: help her get Max (played by Jason Patric) the guy who set them up and she will clear their names. They don't trust her at all, but accept the job anyway. In the meantime Max is brokering a deal with some middle eastern scientists to build a deadly new weapon which he plans to use to start a major new war. In comes the Losers to take him down. Lots of gunplay, fist fights and car chases make this a very entertaining movie. Things are kept light and never get too serious as lots of humor come from Evans, Short and the slightly loony Patric. The entire cast is solid, especially Saldana as the lone female in this guy heavy film. She more than holds her own with the boys and has one brutal throw down fight scene with Clay that lets her give as good as she gets. The Losers is a winner in my book.

Friday, January 14, 2011

My Top 10 Favorite Films of 2010

There are several year end releases that I haven't seen yet, so this list is kind of incomplete. The films that I want to see and I think would make my list include Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1; The Fighter; Tangled; Black Swan, and maybe a couple more. But it's mid January now and I wanted to go ahead and post my favorite films of last year before it gets too late. So here we go.
tron legacy
10. TRON:LEGACY - Terrific visual effects and a pulsating score compensate for a somewhat weak story and a Big Lebowksi type of performance from actor Jeff Bridges. Still Tron is an awesome sight to see.
The A-Team.
9. THE A-TEAM - This update of the 80's TV series was one of the best tv to film adaptations ever. Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Quinton Jackson, and Sharlto Copley were dead on perfect as the team in question. And Patrick Wilson and Brian Bloom make the perfect bad guys. A rousing summer popcorn film if there ever was one.
Cameron Diaz holds onto Tom Cruise in 'Knight and Day.'
8. KNIGHT & DAY - Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz rock in this funny and exciting action flick with Cruise doing his superspy thing and Cameron being well Cameron. Lots of car chases, shoot-outs and fun banter between the two stars ensue.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
7. SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD - A truly fantastic looking movie with Michael Cera as the slacker guitarist who has to battle the 7 evil ex's of Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Based on the popular comic book, Scott Pilgrim is funny, colorful, and exciting. Might not be for everyone's tastes, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
How to Train Your Dragon
6. HOW TO TRAIN A DRAGON - If not for Toy Story 3, this would be my favorite animated film of the year. Still, I have it ranked in my top six because it is genuinely thrilling and touching. A film the whole family will enjoy.
5. KICK-ASS - Another comic book based movie, but this one is not for the little ones. An awkard teen decides to become a super-hero and fight crime. Trouble is, he has no super powers. But that doesn't stop him, and soon this film goes where few comic book films becomes bloody, graphic, and profane. Did I mention the 11 year girl named Hit Girl who has the best moments in the film. She's a whirlwind dynamo as she shoots, stabs, and messes up anyone who gets in her way. Oh and Nicholas Cage is her wacked out father named Big Daddy. An awesome movie.
toy story 3
4. TOY STORY 3 - The final chapter of the Toy Story series is brilliant. There won't be a dry left once the credits roll. But before that you will have Woody, Buzz and the gang in another fun filled adventure. Pixar at it's best.
3. INCEPTION - A mind-bender of a movie from director Christopher Nolan who can do no wrong. With my main man Leonardo DiCaprio doing his usual fantastic job, Inception is one hell of a movie. And I loved it more than I did The Dark Knight. That's saying a lot.
The Town
2. THE TOWN - Tense crime thriller directed by Ben Affleck that will remind you of Heat but will also stand on it's own. A solid cast featuring Affleck, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall, John Hamm, Chris Cooper, Blake Lively and the recently passed Pete Postlethwaite with terrific action scenes and volatile dramatic confrontations make The Town a winner.
True Grit
1. TRUE GRIT - Even better than the original version which starred John Wayne. The Coen Brothers put their own spin on this classic western and comes out aces. Jeff Bridges is awesome in the Wayne role as the rough Marshal Rooster Cogburn. Matt Damon is good as well. And newcome Hailee Steinfeld is simply amazing.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Star of the Month - Marina Sirtis

The star of the month is Star Trek veteran Marina Sirtis. The actress portrayed counselor Deanna Troi on Star Trek The Next Generation for 7 seasons on TV and 4 feature films. She was born to Greek parents who didn't want her to become an actress. As soon as Marina completed high school, she applied to the Guild Hall School of Music and Drama secretly. After her graduation, she worked in musical theater, repertory, and television. In 1986, she moved to Los Angeles, California. For six months she auditioned for parts but was unsuccessful. Just before she planned to go back home, she got the part of Counselor Deanna Troi in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987). In 1992 she married Michael Lamper, a rock guitarist. This bio info provided by Patrick Ceuppens on IMDB.

For the most part Star Trek is where I have seen Marina the most. She has appeared in other sci-fi films and guest appearances on other TV series, but Star Trek is definitely her bread and butter. And while many fans thought her character was kind of iffy, she was my 3rd favorite, behind only Captain Picard and Worf. Marina will be celebrating her 56th birthday on March 29th, two days before my birthday. She looks great and I for one would love to see the Next Generation gang get back together for one more adventure. She has been acting for over 30 years and I hope that more fans learn more about her.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Thirty-two years later Superman (1978) is still a great film

Recently watched the four disc special edition DVD of Superman and the film is still amazing after 30 plus years. One of the definitive comic book movies ever made, Superman is awesome. And looking back at the film now, I didn't remember how star studded it was. Of course you had Marlon Brando as Jor-El and Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor. And it introduced the world to the perfect actor to portray Superman in Christopher Reeve. But you also had Glenn Ford as Jonathan Kent, Superman's adoptive father; Trevor Howard as Jor-El's council friend; Terence Stamp as the villanious Zod; Susannah York as Lara, Jor-El's wife; Valerie Perrine as Ms. Teshmacher, Lex's girlfriend; Ned Beatty as Otis, Lex's incompetent henchman; Margot Kidder as Lois Lane; and former Little Rascals star Jackie Coogan as Perry White, editor of the Daily Planet. That's a lot of star wattage there for a film based on a comic book character. And that's the thing, the producers and director Richard Donner don't treat this film just as a comic book movie. It's basically a coming of age story of a young man with amazing powers trying to win over a woman. The story works because of the terrific cast assembled especially Hackman as the nefarious and funny Luthor. But a lot of the film hinges on Reeve's performance and he knocks it out of the park. He is Superman now and forever. He perfectly captures the dual identity of Superman and his alter ego, the nerdish Clark Kent. And his chemistry with Kidder is great. Throw in the amazing visual effects and the thrilling music score by John Williams and you have one of the best films ever made. Film-makers of today's films need to take notes to see how it's done. This film has heart and wonderful storytelling. Today's films can have all the CGI they want but if they don't have a good story with characters you care about, then it's all for nothing. Superman gets it right on all counts.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

My Top Ten Favorite Comic Book Series of 2010

2010 was an ok year for comics. I quit buying some of the big guns like Spider-Man and Batman. But started reading some cool new series that maintained my interest over the entire year. I believe 2011 will be much improved. Anyway here is my top ten list of my favorite comic book series of 2010.

10. SPIDER-GIRL - After reading only one issue, Spider-Girl vaults into my top ten with a return to the fun that's been missing from comics. See my earlier post that describes in detail why I loved issue one of this new engaging series.

9. WITCHBLADE - I have read every single issue of Witchblade since it debut 15 years ago and it's still just as good when it first started. The adventures of New York City detective Sara Pezzini, who also is the bearer of the Witchblade, an ancient weapon that she wears on her hand like a gauntlet. It comes in handy when dealing with the scum of NY, but also attracts all kinds of supernatural attention. Co-created by the recently deceased Michael Turner, Witchblade is a great mix of cops and magic and demons and all that stuff. And Sara Pezzini is one of the best female characters ever created. Here's to another great 15 years.

8. THE SECRET SIX - This cool series focuses on a team of ex-villians who take on even worse villians. The team is probably the most dysfunctional bunch you will come across in comics today. There's leader Scandal, the lesbian daughter of DC baddie mainstay Vandal Savage. Scandal recently lost her lover and is constantly dealing with that, but she still kicks ass with the best of them. There's Catman, an old Batman foe that uses to be an overweight laughinstock back in the 60's but after intense training and losing some pounds, he can go toe to toe with Bats now. Also onboard is Deadshot, the ruthless mercenary who is all about the money and women. Ragdoll is a wacked out guy who is like a junior version of The Joker. Another old Batman villian is on the team as well: Bane. And recent addition Jeanette, a powerful sorceress, who can turn on the evil in a second. This is a very underrated series that more people need to be reading.

7. X-MEN - While nowhere as good as their glory days of Claremont/Byrne or Jim Lee, everyone's favorite mutants still deliver some of that old school action. The current team consists of leader Cyclops; his current squeeze- Emma Frost; Colossus; Wolverine; Rogue; and Magneto. Other members are present as well as the team have created their own sanctuary called Utopia, off the San Francisco Bay. Recent battles have included a mutant hating racist group and the son of Dracula. There are several X titles on the market and I read three of them and they are about equal.

6. SECRET WARRIORS - Exciting series that has former SHIELD director Nick Fury leading a clandestine group of young heroes to take down evil groups such as HYDRA. Fury was doing this sort of thing back in the 60's but the current stories have been modernized and the action amped up. Lots of fighting and explosions and political backroom dialogue make this one of my favorite series. And what's cool is that these guys are on their you won't see The Avengers and the Fantastic Four, which makes the book stand on its own.

5. THE NEW AVENGERS - Brian Michael Bendis continues to work his magic with his take on The Avengers. This group operates out of Doctor Strange's mansion and includes Luke Cage, Spider-Man, Ms. Marvel, Iron Fist, Mockingbird, The Thing and Wolverine (this guy gets around). They operate independently of the other Avenger team and I like it. They got all the drama and heroics you expect from being an Avenger plus the old witty banter Spider-Man, that's missing in Spidey's regular books.

4. BATGIRL - Surprisingly good book in the Batman canon with Stephanie Brown (Tim Drake's ex) taking over the  mantle of Batgirl from silent but deadly Cassandra Cain. And the charm of this series is watching Stephanie learn the hard way of being a hero. She makes mistakes and she's not perfect but with the help of Oracle, she is getting better and better. Very good book with awesome art by Dustin Nguyen.

3. GREEN LANTERN CORPS - The sister title to Green Lantern that focuses on the entire Green Lantern Corp and specifically on Earth Lanterns Kyle Rayner, John Stewart, and Guy Gardner. Outer space thrills and lots of humor from Guy makes GL Corps a great companion book to Hal Jordan's exploits in Green Lantern.

2. GREEN LANTERN - Writer Geoff Johns and artist Doug Mahnke continue to crank this solid book that is still recovering from the events of Blackest Night as Hal has to team with Sinestro, Larfleeze (the Orange Lantern) and Atrocitus (the Red Lantern) to scour Earth for deities that can help the Lanterns cause. Oh did I also mention Parallax is back as well. Johns continues to be the most consistent writer in comics today as he keeps pushing Hal to his limit and sometimes beyond it.

1.  POWER GIRL - If anyone is not reading this great series, then you should. First off writer Judd Winick has taken the B list heroine Power Girl (Superman's cousin), who was always the butt of sex jokes and such and made her into a real character that readers are really intrigued by. Making her the CEO of a company ala Tony Stark was a brilliant move and it splits the time between boardrooms and throwdowns in metropolitan cities. And the art by Sami Basri is sensational. Fluid and jazzy. I started reading Power Girl with issue #1 and haven't regretted it. I love everything about the book and it is my favorite comic series currently out there. I hope Judd and Sami keep up the pace in 2011.