Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Comic Book Review: Deadpool VS Thanos - Issue 1 - Marvel

“Deadpool VS Thanos”  Issue #1
Written By: Tim Seeley
Art By: Elmo Bondoc and Ruth Redmond

On a private island, Saint Cynthia Island, we meet Deadpool and his pursuit of killing Dr. Doom. It’s in this setting we realize that “Death” is trapped and nobody is able to die… nobody. We meet Black Talon who explains matters to Deadpool and then after some discussion it’s revealed that Thanos will need Deadpools help and after some intense abuse, it’s decided that it’s in the best interest of Thanos and Deadpool that they work together. 

This is a bizarre and humorous good time. Imagine being in a place where nobody can die and you have incredible regenerative abilities… and then imagine you’re working with someone who understands what I just typed. Exactly. It’s a chaotic blood bath that experiments with attempting to free “Death” wherever she may be. I enjoyed this issue probably more than I should but it’s great fun, inappropriate, and violent.

2 Thumbs up by folks who have already died at the hands of Thanos.

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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Box Office Review: The Intern

Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro), 70-year-old widower, has decided that he needs to fill his days with new challenges and activities. He finds an opportunity to intern at an online fashion website run by Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway) and in the process makes friends with the staff and her family. The success of her company might prove to be too much for Jules as she's faced with life and career decisions that could ultimately change everything. Fortunately, Jules and Ben develop a relationship that helps guide and encourage her as she navigates and juggles the career/life balance one might expect from an entrepreneur/CEO/Wife/Mother.

This movie was pure delight. I doubt we'll see it win any rewards but not every film has to win an award to be enjoyable. There was some touching heartfelt moments, some very humorous moments and dialogue that gave the audience an opportunity to understand the gravitas of situations presented for each key character.

This film has some social commentary on the modern man and the evolution of roles within family and work that takes an honest look at life, past and present. There's a conversation that takes place regarding a handkerchief and the value of carrying one, as a gentlemen, that was a fantastic. It's a timeless approach that I thoroughly enjoyed seeing on the big screen. We are even treated to some dialogue exploring dating and relationships  in modern time that is quite humorous.

If you do decide to see this film as part of a date be prepared to walk out of the theater looking at men (or yourself) in a different manner. The dialogue explores the human experience of relationships and what it means to be a man as part of the story. It's all quite honest in it's delivery to be fair. As the image states experience never gets old and "The Intern" gives us an enjoyable look at how experience and wisdom matched with passion and determination can be unstoppable.

Nice work, again, by writer and director Nancy Meyers. Worth the cost of admission, I give it a high five and a smile.

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Friday, September 25, 2015

Act 127: Seven

Cosplayer Rebeca joins Masked Blogster, Handsome J and Randy to talk cosplay, gaming, comics and more. To make things more (okay, probably less) interesting, Masked Blogster forgot some recording equipment, leaving just 1 microphone for everyone. This episode was recorded at Critical Threat Comics located in Tempe, AZ.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Comic Book Review: Black Canary - Issue 1 - DC Comics

“Black Canary”  Issue #1
Written By: Brenden Fletcher
Art By: Annie Wu

Gotham City band “Black Canary” has been on the road touring, but their lead singer “D.D.” appears to be more martial arts expert than singer. We see band manager “Heathcliff” discussing payment for a gig with a venue manager who’s location was just trashed from a fight that broke out while the band was playing. D.D. it turns out was responsible for most of the damage. As the band arrives at the next gig there seems to be a group following them, curious about D.D. and the band. As the band begins to play D.D. notices that some of the people in the crowd aren’t all they appear to be. After the gig, the band decides they need to learn basic combat training and D.D. agrees to train them in the morning. They pack up to leave but, unbeknownst to them, they aren’t alone anymore. 

This is a fun time. It’s rock and roll meets martial arts. This to me is a winning combo. The dialogue does well enough to keep you reading and the art is unique and visually enjoyable. The art makes this issue stand out from what I’ve been reading in other comics. At certain points it was fun just to make up songs in my head the band would be playing while the fights break out. After all the show must go on, right? I can hear the band managers voice when dealing with the band and venue managers after the fact and that always made me chuckle. It’s all around a positive experience reading this issue. I’m looking forward to reading the additional issues as I believe it’s now at #4.

No thumbs up instead I give the rock and roll devil horns, both hands.

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Monday, September 21, 2015

Box Office Review: Black Mass

Murder, drugs, Jai Alai, the Irish, the Italians, Senators, the FBI, DEA, IRA, police, prostitutes, 1970's Boston, Miami and an incredible ensemble of talented actors all participating in the telling of real life crime lord James "Whitey" Bulger. If you're looking for a film that has everything from corruption to redemption this might be it.

It starts with Kevin Weeks (Jessie Plemons) stating, on the record, that he isn't an informant or rat and he is strictly doing business. This is important because it references to something later revealed in the film. From there the audience is thrown into the movie with story telling split between the "present day" and previous events. A story telling device that works to keep the plot moving and it allows the story to jump forward in time without missing a beat. The audience is introduced to topics and events and then we jump back to see them brilliantly acted out.

Johnny Depp's portrayal of "Whitey" Bulger, nefarious and ruthless crime lord, was chilling. The steady ease in which he delivers his lines only to then murder people leaves you believing everything on screen. His methods of murder change so keep your eyes open. Cold and determined, loyal to his family and childhood friends until the end, this character is developed and intriguing to watch.

In fact, every character was so believable that the audience should enjoy the film without being pulled out by poor acting or distractions. The only thing that seemed a bit off was the wispy soft voice and accent of Senator Billy Bulger (Benedict Cumberbatch), Whitey's brother. The accent was believable however it was gentle in comparison to the other male counterparts in the film. A rough and tumble group of male actors who were either criminals or law enforcement, the audience was treated to men of determined spirits, be they just or unjust. This allowed for Billy Bulger to stand out as his speech was more subdued.

FBI agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) was probably the performance of the film. The changes he shows from being a confident and smooth talking agent to the despair and panic as he sees the case unravelling was award worthy. Connolly had the largest arc in terms of character development. You could see the change not just in his mannerisms but in his expressions and ability to silver tongue his colleagues. If you had any trouble picking up on it there's a brief mention during a conversation with his wife to firmly establish his is the performance to watch.

Scott Cooper directed this film and he has an impressive list of films under his belt. His talents as a director are obvious as this film leaves little to question. The art, the clothes, the design of the houses, the cars, the attitudes are all reminiscent of a time now gone. He had a power house cast to work with and he delivered on getting the best performance from each actor.

This film is rated R for good reason. There's violence a plenty that leaves little to the imagination. The language is also stereotypical of what you'd expect Boston street thugs to sound like. If you enjoy gangster films you will not be disappointed.

"Black Mass" isn't a special effects driven movie but the actors are all so wonderful it warrants a theater screening. This might be the film that ushers in "Oscar Season" or it might be the warm up, it's that good. The tension that builds between Whitey and the FBI all the way into the finale is intense and once the film resolves you sit back, exhale and smile because you know what you just watched was a quality film.

I give it two thumbs up and encourage everyone to play "8 Degrees of Separation with Kevin Bacon" because he's also in this film.

If you've already seen it, please comment below and share your thoughts!

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Sunday, September 20, 2015

Comic Book Review: John Flood - Issue 1 - BOOM! Studios - 2015

Title: John Flood Issue Number: 1
Writer: Justin Jordan Artist: Jorge Coelho

A man who had been a government experiment, John Flood now never sleeps and now sees the world in patterns and hallucinations.  This six issue mini-series follows John Flood as he seeks the employment of a former police officer, Alexander Berry, and attempt to solve the mystery of a murder spree that doesn’t seem to have a pattern.  What John Flood probably doesn’t realize, is the murderer is looking for him at the same time.

This is a very enjoyable book from BOOM! Studios.  It’s a very fun read and it makes you want to read the next issue(which I did so I may have included part of that in the synopsis above).  The colors from Tamra Bonvillain compliment Jorge Coelho’s artwork magnificently and it all fits with the theme of the series.  The pace of the story is great so get out there and purchase this book!

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Friday, September 18, 2015

Act 126: Loving the '80s

Masked Blogster, Beer Czar and Brewmaster Chris talk about 1980s television and film plus have a chat about the upcoming Star Wars films.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Comic Book Review: The Fade Out - Issue 1 - Image Comics

The Fade Out”  Issue #1
Written By: Ed Brubaker
Art By: Sean Phillips

Charlie Parish, a Hollywood screenwriter, wakes up in a bathtub after an evening of revelry with the Los Angeles celebrities of 1948. Confused as to his whereabouts and how he arrived in a bathtub are all pieces to a smaller puzzle he’s about to discover.  Charlie is slowly piecing together the events of the previous evening when he stumbles upon a dead body in the room next to the restroom where he woke up. Scared and alone Charlie must decide who he can talk with about this discovery but more importantly he has to live with the fact he was inebriated and incapacitated in the room adjacent to where the murder took place.  Some dialogue occurs that details more specifically what occurred that evening before he blacked out and he meets with Phil Brodsky, head of studio security, to discuss matters further. Charlie leaves the meeting feeling better about the situation but shortly after makes a startling discovery that could make him person of interest number 1 to the police investigating the murder, if they ever find out. 

I feel reading a well written period piece is always enjoyable. Add the drama and intrigue of a murder mystery to this post World War 2 Hollywood story and now you have a winning combination. The characters are written so well that even though we are meeting them for the first time in this story it feels like we have known them much longer. The art captures each emotion the characters express and feel so accurately that as I read the story I was completely swept away into this world being created. By the end of the issue when a startling discovery is made I couldn’t wait to read the second installment in this series and it didn’t take long for me to decide this will be a story that will be in my collection going forward. I also love the first page that gives you an introduction to each character important to the issue you are about to read. 

Two thumbs up with a wink and smile. 

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Sunday, September 13, 2015

Comic Book Review: Batman - Issue 44 - DC Comics (2015)

Title: Batman Issue Number: 44
Writer: Scott Snyder, Brian Azzarello Artist: Jock

This is a flashback tale to continue the story of Mr. Bloom.  That said, a person could read Batman #44 and enjoy it as a book on its own.  Batman is investigating the odd death of a 16 year old boy who appears to have died from being dropped from an extreme height in the middle of nowhere.  Batman investigates by going down his list of rogues to figure out who would be the most likely suspect.  The Penguin makes an appearance in this fantastic tale that runs very similar parallels to our current real world.  Racial tensions between bad policeman and young black youths; the wealthy feeling that they are helping run down neighborhoods by building what is, at the time of conception, affordable apartments; and the all-around view of financially constrained neighborhoods overrun by gang activity.  

Batman #44 is a wonderful read with the continued writing of Scott Snyder coupled with a guest co-writing of Brian Azzarello.  Jock is the guest artist in this issue and his incredible and gritty artwork goes so well with this flashback story.  The use of hard hitting action, Batman’s inventive interrogations and close-ups of facial expressions make for an absolutley magnificent looking book.  The addition of newspaper clippings between panels brings the parallels of the harsh city of Gotham and the actual world we live in to the forefront.  Despite the $4.99 price tag, this book is worth picking up, even if you do not follow the current series.

Okay, so there was one glaring negative in this book.  There is a panel where a character is talking to Batman and the use of “should of” instead of “should’ve” is in the word balloon.  It should’ve been a contraction.  Even if you were implying the character has a less than stellar use of grammar, the words “should’ve” and “should of” are said the same way and should’ve been typed correctly.

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Friday, September 11, 2015

Act 125: Critical Threat

Critical Threat Comics is where we recorded this episode and we talk comics and get a lesson in table-top gaming from store owner Jessica.  Local cartoonist Zoey also joins the show along with co-hosts Masked Blogster, Handsome J, Randy and Self E Santana.

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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Box Office Review: Ant-Man

"Ant-Man" is the 12th film from Marvel in the "Marvel Cinematic Universe" and the final film in what's considered Phase 2 of Marvels long term film calendar. We are introduced, almost entirely, to a new cast of characters. Outside of a brief action sequence involving an Avenger from a previous film and a dramatic confrontation with SHIELD this movie stands on it's own legs and does so quite well.

The opening scene takes place before "Iron Man" and reminds the audience this Marvel cinematic universe is vast. We meet Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) who confronts Peggy Carter, Howard Stark & Mitchell Carson (who seems determined to acquire the technology Hank has created for the Ant-Man suit). It's established immediately that Hank Pym will not allow any group, government or organization to acquire and mass produce the "Pym Particle" technology while he is alive.

Enter Scott Lange (Paul Rudd), an above average intelligent burglar who is officially being released from Prison for cyber terrorism against a company he was working for. We meet the 3 individuals who will become part of the heist team  & we get our first glimpse of Hank Pyms house where Scott steals the Ant-Man suit. This is only because Hank orchestrates the deal without Scott or his team aware they are being tested.

Enter the antagonist Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) who at one time was Hanks protégé. He's developing the "Pym Particles" for his own financial gain & to become more than his mentor. Hanks daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) sees an immediate need to join with her father to stop Darren Cross, her boss, and the training of Scott Lange begins. Scott will become the Ant-Man & with any luck he'll be successful in stopping Hydra from acquiring Darren's successful recreation of "Pym particles."

"Ant-Man" is quite possibly the most creative and humorous Marvel film to date. A true heist film w/ multiple heists occurring throughout. Sure, watching a guy communicate with ants might be a stretch for some viewers, however, it adds a fun level of humor for those who have already seen it. Plus everyone who saw the film knows more about ants now than before they walked in. The 3 members of Scott Lange's team also serve as additional comedy relief as well as characters who help move the plot along. Luis (Michael Pena) is the charm this film deserved. His performance stood out the most and was a delightful surprise.

Marvel continues to build on science as a means for humanities salvation and destruction. Marvel even introduces a new realm, the subatomic realm. A location between time and space that defies all laws of our natural order. It's a possible introduction to one or more dimensions present in "Doctor Strange" mythos. In November of 2016 "Doctor Strange" the movie is being released so it’s a strong possibility this new realm is preparing the movie going audience for the supernatural. Marvel enjoys hinting and walking the viewers into new spectacular stories over time and this feels like it falls into their subtle strategy.

Overall, I give this film 1 thumb up and a smile. It's alittle rushed in pacing and there's a few missed opportunities to build on the tension that explains why Scott Lange is the hero and not Hank Pym or his daughter Hope. There's so many new characters it's understandable why screen time is split so many ways; however, one can't help but feel the pacing and character development is a bit forced. Entertaining and comical this film is worth the price of a ticket. The special effects alone warrant a big screen viewing (and I should know, I saw it twice).

Ant-man is playing at a theater near you. If you saw the film let me know your thoughts below in the comment section. Let's talk movies!
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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Comic Book Review: "M.O.D.O.K. Assassin" Issue 1 - Marvel Comics 2015

"M.O.D.O.K. Assassin”  Issue #1
Written By: Christopher Yost
Art By: Amilcar Pinna and Rachelle Rosenberg

Taking place during “Secret Wars” we are introduced Doctor Doom and the control he has over Battle World. Immediately following, we meet Otto Octavius who is running from the Assassins Guild. Otto has some stolen technology he wishes to sell but the Assassins Guild has sent a killer after him. MODOK retrieves the tech and kills Otto Octavius and the assassin. The death of the assassin places him in direct conflict with Baron Mordo, who is in charge of “Killville.” As MODOK drives away from the scene of the deaths he encounters a mutant who is running from Sentinels. A short confrontation occurs between MODOK, the mutant and the Sentinels. Then following the confrontation, as MODOK enjoys the amount of deaths he has caused in a single day a sudden burst in the sky appears and a Thor comes crashing into the earth but something strange occurs preventing MODOK from immediately killing the Thor.

This story is entertaining. It’s colorful murder and chaos. It starts with a brief 1 page reminder that Doom is in control and then the MODOK story is off and running. The art work is incredible and the dialogue/story is engaging. The pace is quick and MODOKs personality is what makes this issue so fun. Reading about a Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing seems like dark waters but the art is so vibrant it subtracts from what could be an otherwise grim and disturbing comic. There is some dark humor but it feels so appropriate, considering the characters, I couldn’t help but chuckle a few times. Just so much fun. I’m looking forward to reading more in this series and sharing my thoughts! 

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Sunday, September 6, 2015

Comic Book Review: Saga - Issue 1 - Image Comics(2012)

Title: Saga 
Issue Number: 1
Writer: Brian K. Vaughn
Artist: Fiona Staples

Lovers that, by all accounts, should not be together are on the run hiding not just for themselves but for their newborn daughter.  Saga is a story told as a historical account by the daughter of these lovers who are on opposite sides of an on-going battle.  The first issue gives us birth, battles and introductions into not just the characters on the run, but also those that are hunting them down.  Oh yeah, and our main characters find a treasure map!  With violence, nudity and strong language, this book is definitely intended for mature readers.

One issue in and I’m really looking forward to reading more!  I’m late getting to the party on this one but I’m hoping to catch up pretty quick so that I may follow monthly.  Brian K. Vaughn continues to prove why he is one of the greatest writers in the world of comic books with this extraordinary introductory issue.  Fiona Staples’ art goes incredibly well with Vaughn’s story with species of characters that range from horned heads to winged backs to television monitors for heads.  Staples’ art is truly on point with her ability to invoke so much emotion into facial expressions of the characters.  This book is an absolute joy!

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Friday, September 4, 2015

Act 124: Brewing and Tasting Beers

Masked Blogster, Brewmaster Chris and the Beer Czar brewed beer over Memorial Weekend and now they're tasting the hops of their labor.  We talk about beers from Stone Brewing and the awesomeness that Brewmaster Chris brewed.  We also talk about breweries we have been to recently including Masked Blogster's positive experiences at San Tan Brewing and Papago Brewing and his poor experience at the newly opened Fate Brewing in South Scottsdale.

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

"Hitman: Agent 47" Review

"Hitman: Agent 47" is the second film based on "Hitman" the popular video game series available for Xbox and Playstation. In 2007 Timothy Olyphant shaved his head and took up the mantle as one of the worlds best assassins and now in 2015 the audience is given an entirely new cast and premise. By no means is this film a sequel. Directed by Alexander Bach "Hitman: Agent 47" takes the audience on a brand new trip around the globe while Agent 47 (Rupert Friend) attempts to locate Katia (Hannah Ware) before the Syndicate search team led by John Smith (Zachary Quinto) finds her and forces her to locate her father who holds important information that could change warfare, forever.

The film has enough enjoyable twists throughout to keep you engaged even though the cuts/edits draw your attention away from what's happening on screen. If you have any sensitivity to flashing lights this film has the potential to give you epileptic seizures but is entertaining enough that you probably won't be mad once you stop shaking. Additionally, the action sequences had potential if not for the fact the camera angles almost seemed intentionally distracting leading the viewer to assume these actors couldn't fulfill the physical requirements of the film.

The story is entertaining enough to warrant a watch either at matinee prices, a Redbox rental or online via an Apple TV download once available. However the cost of a full evening ticket price might leave some disappointed as the film falls short on the technical aspects that help drive the story & keep viewers engaged. The flashback sequences had an intentional blur effect to remind viewers the adult just on screen is now the child on screen (which wasn't necessary). Very little was left to the viewers imagination in this regard unfortunately.

There is good news. The fact this films protagonist is an assassin certainly suggests that action would be a driving force for the story. The violence didn't disappoint and if you just want a film that allows massive explosions, clever methods of killing people, helicopter rides and car chases this movie won't disappoint. The amount of action met if not exceeded expectations.

The special effects and music were reminiscent of the late 80’s and early 90’s action films. There was even some dialogue that felt like it was paying homage to the films that were featured during a period when the American slogan “movies for guys who like movies” was popular. One shouldn't be surprised considering the film is about an assassin and the last chatty film assassins I can remember were Martin Blank (John Cusack) and Grocer (Dan Ackroyd) in "Gross Pointe Blank" back in 1997.  This film was not heavy on dialogue and rightly so; however, the story telling then relies on the visual medium and while the action was ever present the special effects were blatantly obvious and the edits/cuts were so choppy it was at best a distraction.

If you want to see a film that's action driven with little thought required this is the perfect choice for you. It delivers on popcorn action sequences that excite even if they don't necessarily make sense.

I give it a shoulder shrug & a smile. No thumbs up though & zero high fives.

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