Comic Review: Sporkman Goes to Japan, Vol. 1-3

Published: December, 2020
Written by: Eric J. Berry, Charles Bonetti
Art by: Gifney Richata, Gingerfoxy

Wikid Publishing, 96 Pages (total)

Review:

This was a crowdfunded comic that I backed a few years ago. I think that it initially failed and had problems funding but eventually, after multiple campaigns, it got the money to come to life.

I didn’t mind waiting and I remember the price for these three comics as being rather low when compared to other campaigns out there. Being that I thought it was a good value and that it had a strong tokusatsu vibe to it, I supported it.

I’m glad that I finally got these three issues in my hands and I was impressed by the overall quality of the books, the paper stock, the printing and the colors. I work in a field where I manage a lot of print jobs and this did not disappoint in that regard. So extreme kudos to the creators for not taking shortcuts.

As far as the story goes, this is straight comedy and it parodies the tokusatsu, kaiju and mech genres of Japanese sci-fi.

The best thing about this was that it was actually funny and the jokes landed well. I liked the bumbling hero and seeing him rise to the challenge in spite of his generally buffoonery and the lack of faith from his allies.

This was a fun, amusing and most importantly, entertaining comic. It was a value, in my eyes, from day one and honestly, the finished product exceeded expectations.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: other comedy tokusatsu inspired comics.

Comic Review: Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms – The Legend of Drizzt, Vol. 1: Homeland

Published: February 25th, 2015
Written by: Andrew Dabb, R.A. Salvatore
Art by: Tim Seeley
Based on: Dungeons & Dragons by TSR, characters by R.A. Salvatore

IDW Publishing, 145 Pages

Review:

I’ve known about the character of Drizzt Do’Urden for a few decades. In fact, I own a few of the Forgotten Realms paperbacks with him on the cover but I never got around to reading them because I wanted the whole saga.

Well, many of those stories were adapted into comics by IDW, who have the publishing rights to the Dungeons & Dragons franchise. So, I figured that I’d read them and get a taste for the character and his pocket in the larger D&D universe.

This first volume serves as Drizzt’s origin story and while it’s interesting and pretty unique, it’s not super exciting. However, his story had to start somewhere and it’s important if you want to actually understand the character, his motivations and what kind of struggle he’s gone through before evolving into a legendary hero.

Reading this, I appreciated the level of world building that went into the story, as originally penned by the great R.A. Salvatore. This goes deep into the culture, beliefs, politics and history of Drizzt’s people, setting up a lot of potentially good stories to follow.

Still, this first volume didn’t captivate me in the way I was hoping but that’s fine. I still plan to read the six volumes that IDW put out because I already own them and because this character can now leave the nest and grow into the great character I’ve been told he is by many.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: other Dungeons & Dragons comics, specifically those with the Forgotten Realms banner and more specifically, those featuring Drizzt Do’Urden.

Film Review: The Game (1997)

Release Date: September 3rd, 1997 (New York City premiere)
Directed by: David Fincher
Written by: John Brancato, Michael Ferris
Music by: Howard Shore
Cast: Michael Douglas, Sean Penn, James Rebhorn, Deborah Kara Unger, Peter Donat, Carroll Baker, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Anna Katarina, Mark Boone Junior, Tommy Flanagan, Spike Jonze, Daniel Schorr (cameo)

A&B Producoes Lda., Propaganda Films, Polygram Filmed Entertainment, 129 Minutes

Review:

“They just fuck you and they fuck you and they fuck you, and then just when you think it’s all over, that’s when the real fucking starts!” – Conrad

I don’t think that I’ve seen this since the theater but I remembered really liking the hell out of in the ’90s and I had always meant to revisit it because Fincher’s other two ’90s films (not named Alien 3) were pretty much masterpieces.

This one doesn’t live up to the quality and iconic status of Se7en and Fight Club but it is a good filling within the ’90s Fincher cinematic sandwich.

The big selling point for me, at least when this came out, was that it starred Michael Douglas and Sean Penn. The thought of seeing those two great actors together made this picture a “must see” for me. Plus, the trailer intrigued me.

For the most part, this is a thrilling ride where you don’t really see what’s coming and how deep this “game” will go. It gets bigger and more complex with each twist in the plot and it’s a lot of fun, seeing it play out.

The problem with the film, though, is knowing that it’s just a game. Granted, the movie does its damnedest to make you question that and it really pushes the bar in pushing Michael Douglas’ Nicholas over the edge. However, I thought that the big reveal was really obvious, even before I knew the ending. In fact, I thought it was obvious from the trailer but I still was captivated enough to see how far the story would push things.

Overall, the plot doesn’t disappoint but being that so many things are so over the top and elaborate, the picture leaves me with more questions than answers. It would’ve been cool to see how all of this was pulled off but you don’t really get that and just have to accept that this is just the work of powerful pranksters with unlimited funding.

From a visual standpoint, the movie looks good and I’d say it’s less stylized than Fincher’s other movies. I’m not sure if he felt like he needed to be more reserved in that regard or of it was the work of the producers. But out of all Fincher’s movies, this one is the least Fincher-esque, as far as the cinematography goes.

As should be expected, it’s a picture that is superbly acted and the leads are truly great, here.

In the end, this is still fun to watch, even after knowing what the ending would be. As I stated earlier, I knew it was just going to be a game beforehand but that doesn’t make it a bad thriller. The big thrills still work and this is an intense movie that still packs a punch.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: other David Fincher films of the ’90s that aren’t Alien 3.

Comic Review: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero – Classics, Vol. 15

Published: August 1st, 2012
Written by: Larry Hama
Art by: various
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro

Marvel Comics (original printing), IDW Publishing (reprinted), 232 Pages

Review:

I have finally reached the end of the classic Marvel Comics G.I. Joe run, which was almost entirely written by Larry Hama.

Most of it was great but the last four or five volumes are pretty shitty, this one being no different, which is sort of sad, considering how great this franchise was in its prime, back when Larry Hama still cared about it and when Hasbro was making great toys and not corny ones that pushed fans away.

To be fair, most of the loyal G.I. Joe fans were also more into girls by the early ’90s.

Anyway, this final collection of issues is a wee bit better than the previous lot but the series still went out with a whimper.

This is also plagued by awful art that is well below Marvel’s quality standards in the ’90s.

Most of the half dozen or so artists here were trying really hard to be the next Rob Liefeld and I don’t say that complimentary. They sort of adopted the worst parts of Liefeld’s style and gave us stories littered with bad physics, weird anatomy and messed up looking faces.

All in all, I still love this series. But everything went to shit after about 100 issues and never recovered.

Rating: 4.75/10
Pairs well with: Any of the original Marvel G.I. Joe comics.

Book Review: ‘The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane’ by Robert E. Howard

I have only read a few Solomon Kane stories by Robert E. Howard and that was a long time ago. I’ve always loved the character, however. Especially, when he appeared in issues of The Savage Sword of Conan, as well as his own classic comic book series from his original Marvel run. I also like the film adaptation, quite a bit, as it has grown on me since I reviewed it for this site a few years back. I may need to update that, as I have a higher opinion of the movie now than I did after my original viewing of it.

This nice, thick book collects a lot of the iconic Solomon Kane stories that Howard wrote. I’m not sure if this is all of them or most of them but it does feature the stories I’m either familiar with from the comics and from what I’ve learned about the character’s history.

I enjoyed this pretty immensely, which I kind of expected to, but it exceeded those expectations and as far as a big collected body of work, this may be my favorite book I own by Robert E. Howard. Granted, I plan on reading the collected editions of Conan soon, as I have only read about a third of his short stories.

Solomon Kane is a very different hero than either Conan or Kull, however, and it was cool seeing Howard writing what I still consider to be sword and sorcery but quite unlike his better known “barbarian” heroes.

I love that this takes place on Earth in a historical time and that it connects to the real world closer than Howard’s prehistorical fantasy stuff.

Additionally, every story here had purpose and serious gravitas. I also liked all the colorful characters that weaved in and out of these tales, as well as the monsters and the Lovecraftian influence on them.

The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane should definitely be in anyone’s library who enjoys fantasy, action and horror. It’s a perfect blend of these three things, written by one of the greatest American authors that ever lived.

Rating: 9.25/10
Pairs well with: other Robert E. Howard collections.

Film Review: Silent Hill (2006)

Also known as: Centralia (fake working title), Terror en Silent Hill (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela)
Release Date: April 20th, 2006 (Hollywood premiere)
Directed by: Christophe Gans
Written by: Roger Avery, Christophe Gans, Nicolas Boukhrief
Based on: Silent Hill by Konami
Music by: Akira Yamaoka, Jeff Danna
Cast: Radha Mitchell, Sean Bean, Laurie Holden, Deborah Kara Unger, Kim Coates, Tanya Allen, Alice Krige, Jodelle Ferland

Silent Hill DCP Inc., Davis-Films, TriStar Pictures, 125 Minutes, 132 Minutes (Special Edition Blu-ray, Canada only)

Review:

“When you’re hurt and scared for so long, the fear and pain turn to hate and the hate starts to change the world.” – Dark Alessa

When this came out, it was the film that seemed like it bucked the trend of video game movies being shit, as far as adaptations and overall quality goes.

The Resident Evil films were their own thing and before them we had the Street Fighter movie, Super Mario Bros. and Double Dragon. I would say that the film that actually bucked the trend first, though, was 1995’s Mortal Kombat. However, Silent Hill is a much better film than that one and it works without having knowledge or appreciation of its video game series before seeing it.

In fact, I know several people that saw this film first, which then served as a gateway into the games due to the effect this movie had on them.

I used to watch this quite a bit after I bought it on DVD when it was first released that way. It’s probably been a dozen years since I’ve seen it but my fondness for it was still really strong and I wanted to revisit it. I also want to playthrough some of the earlier games too, which I might in the very near future.

Seeing this now was kind of cool because I was separated enough from it to see it with somewhat fresh eyes. I definitely see the flaws in it more than I did in 2006 but that could also be due to me not being as obsessed with the franchise as I was back then. Subpar sequels in both video games and film took the wind out of this once great property’s sails.

The film adapts elements of the stories from the first two games and sort of merges them while also doing its own thing. So it’s familiar enough for fans to immediately recognize but also takes some interesting turns that allow it to breathe and evolve in a different way.

I like the film’s story quite a lot, even if it does change some key things. Those things don’t break the film as its own body of work, though.

My biggest gripe about the film is the dialogue. It’s not terrible but there are some weird lines and some weird delivery, here and there. I’m not sure if that’s due to a language barrier due to the director, who also co-wrote the film, being French. I don’t know enough about him outside of his finished films that I’ve seen, which aren’t many.

However, the child actress delivers some lines with weird inflections on certain syllables that sound unnatural and a bit off. I don’t necessarily blame her, I blame the direction and the takes that were chosen to be used in the final film.

Overall, she did well essentially playing two different characters that were polar opposites of each other: one being good and innocent and the other being the absolute embodiment of evil. The requirements of her role aren’t easy for most adult actors and she did rather well considering her age and experience.

Moving on, some of the CGI effects look a little dated but for the most part, the film still looks great. There are just a few shots that look kind of weird.

The film as a whole looks incredible, however. Gans has a stupendous eye and from a visual standpoint, he captured the tone and aesthetic of the video game series phenomenally well. I am still really impressed by the scenes where the purgatory world dissolves into the Hell world.

Beyond that, I’m not a big fan of the ending but it fits well within the framework of what Silent Hill is. I guess there is a part of me that wanted something more optimistic but the ambiguous and strange ending leaves the viewer with more questions than answers. Also, that’s not a bad thing, some of my favorite movies do that but after the literal hell that the characters went through, it felt like more of a reward was needed.

I liked the cult aspect of the story and I definitely loved their end. As violent and incredibly fucked up as the climax was, it was also satisfying as hell after learning who these people really were. This movie doesn’t simply provide you with sympathy for the Devil, it makes you root for him… or in this case, her.

The last thing I want to mention is the music. The film recycles the score and iconic songs from the video game series. That might not work in the case of most film adaptations but it really amplified the effect of the film and its brooding, disturbing atmosphere. I think that I appreciated it even more now, as I kind of forgot how good the games’ music was.

Silent Hill is, hands down, one of the best horror movies in its decade, which was unfortunately a terrible decade for horror. But I think it would’ve been just as great in earlier decades, regardless of the higher quality of the genre.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: it’s absolutely shitty sequel, I guess. But more importantly, the video game series. Specifically, the first three games.

Comic Review: The Witcher, Vol. 4: Of Flesh and Flame

Published: July 30th, 2019
Written by: Aleksandra Motyka
Art by: Marianna Strychowska
Based on: The Witcher novels by Andrzej Sapkowski

Dark Horse Comics, 106 Pages

Review:

I have reached the last comic story in The Witcher saga. Well, at least for now.

I’m sure that Dark Horse or eventually another publisher will do more in the future, as it continues to be a hot property, especially with the Netflix show and I’m assuming, future video games and maybe even novels.

While this wasn’t my favorite of the four stories I’ve read, it was still entertaining and a good amount of fun.

This also brought Dandelion into the comic book continuity and he’s a favorite character of mine from the only game I’ve played in the series, The Witcher 3: Blood Hunt.

This was done by a different creative team but they did just fine. The story was energetic and exciting while the art was also really good and pretty much consistent with the volumes that came out previously.

The plot was well constructed with a pretty good twist that I didn’t predict and it leaves you smiling with an amusing, satisfying ending.

All in all, for those who enjoy The Witcher mythos, this shouldn’t disappoint. Honestly, if you want to read the comics, I’d just buy the omnibus edition, as it includes all four of the volumes that have been published, thus far.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other Witcher comics.

Film Review: Bloodshot (2020)

Release Date: March 5th, 2020 (Germany)
Directed by: David S. F. Wilson
Written by: Jeff Wadlow, Eric Heisserer
Based on: Bloodshot by Kevin VanHook, Don Perlin, Bob Layton
Music by: Steve Jablonsky
Cast: Vin Diesel, Eiza Gonzalez, Sam Heughan, Toby Kebbell, Guy Pearce

Annabell Pictures, Bona Film Group, Cross Creek Pictures, The Hideaway Entertainment, Original Film, One Race Films, Valiant Entertainment, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures, 109 Minutes

Review:

“Control-Command-BURN THE BUILDING DOWN!” – Wilfred Wigans

Bloodshot was a comic book character that I always thought looked cool as hell when I was a kid in the ’90s. I read some of his earlier stuff that was put out by Valiant Comics and I thought it was all pretty entertaining, edgy ’90s shit.

However, this version of the character is not the same guy that he was in the comics, as his origin and look are completely different. But I guess Vin Diesel just likes looking like Vin Diesel. When you’re a producer, I guess you get to call some of the shots, even the ones that are detrimental to your own production.

The comic book Bloodshot, from the era that I read, was an ex-mobster. Here, he’s some brainwashed soldier stuck in a Groundhog Day computer simulation. Frankly, it’s really fucking lame.

As the film rolls on, Bloodshot starts to figure shit out and what should be a simple, straightforward story, becomes a convoluted mess of a movie where the writers tried to be smarter than they needed to be. Hell, they tried to be smarter than they’re apparently capable of and overplayed their hand. The smarter this film tries to be and the more it takes itself too seriously, the dumber and worse it gets.

This didn’t start out bad but it ended up being a slow, wet fart that soiled the picture’s pants.

Bloodshot is derivative as fuck and I guaran-damn-tee the writers, director and producers thought they were striking gold with this shit. It’s got that sort of young Hollywood smarm all over it and at best, it’s a SyFy movie of the week from fifteen years ago.

Honestly, though, I didn’t hate this. It didn’t have enough for me to latch onto in any sort of emotional or tangible way. It’s boring, tortuous and it looks drab as hell. If I’m being honest, I had a hard time staying awake watching this.

The comic book version of the Bloodshot character was infinitely more interesting, cooler and badass.

This comes across as a vanity project for Diesel, who wanted to be in a comic book movie where he got to show his face. I guess voicing Groot in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie wasn’t getting him the visual recognition he wants from single mother strippers buying Marvel bedsheets for their kids.

Rating: 4.5/10
Pairs well with: other comic book flicks that come nowhere near close to the higher quality standards of modern Marvel movies.

Comic Review: Deathstroke: The Terminator, Vol. 3: Nuclear Winter

Published: October 17th, 2017
Written by: Marv Wolfman
Art by: Steve Erwin, Will Blyberg, Art Nichols

DC Comics, 257 Pages

Review:

I was really high up on this series after reading the first two volumes. Sadly, this one was a big step down and I’m hoping it was just a minor hiccup, as I continue to read on beyond this one.

I think the big issue with this was that Marv Wolfman felt the need to crossover Deathstroke with the Teen Titans, as the anti-hero has had a deep connection with those characters since he debuted in their comic a decade before this.

However, in this era, the Teen Titans title had gotten really weird and the team was full of a bunch of D-team noobs undeserving of their spots, at least in my opinion.

That being said, this collection of issues was a clusterfuck and that mainly has to do with this just collecting the Deathstroke issues within a larger crossover story. Additionally, this tacks on a completely unrelated story at the end, which was just chapters taken from the Showcase anthology series.

Overall, this just felt like a bunch of random ass shit thrown into one beefy, double-sized trade paperback because they needed to dump it all somewhere.

Hopefully, volume four doesn’t do this and it gets back to kicking proper ass.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: the other volumes in the original Deathstroke: The Terminator series from 1991 to 1996.