Comic Review: Daredevil – Epic Collection: Heart of Darkness

Published: September 20th, 2017
Written by: Ann Nocenti, Mike Baron, Gerry Conway, Gregory Wright
Art by: John Romita Jr., Mark Bagley, Cam Kennedy, Rick Leonardi

Marvel Comics, 482 Pages

Review:

This covers a big chunk of the Ann Nocenti run, which ends about midway through the Daredevil – Epic Collection volume after this one.

I liked this about the same as I did the previous one, which kicked off the Nocenti era.

This collection of stories is a departure from what’s typical for the Daredevil character but I like that a lot, as it makes this era stand out with the character facing off against fantastical threats and also generally being outside of Hell’s Kitchen and New York City.

The big arc at the end of this stretch brings back Blackheart, in his second story, as well as his father, the more famous and more dangerous, Mephisto. I like the whole Daredevil vs. Mephisto thing, as it is just a cool test for the hero and there’s obvious similarities.

Overall, this was a great read and it reminds me of why I fell in love with this comic, in this era.

Rating: 9/10

Film Review: The Green Knight (2021)

Release Date: July 29th, 2021 (Switzerland, Germany, Israel)
Directed by: David Lowery
Written by: David Lowery
Based on: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by anonymous
Music by: Daniel Hart
Cast: Dev Patel, Ralph Ineson, Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Sarita Choudhury, Sean Harris, Erin Kellyman, Patrick Duffy (voice)

Sailor Bear, BRON Studios, A24, 130 Minutes

Review:

“[as the Queen’s voice overlaps with the Green Knight’s while she reads his letter] Oh, greatest of kings, indulge me in this friendly Christmas game. Let whichever of your knights is boldest of blood and wildest of hearts step forth, take up arms and try with honor to land a blow against me. Whomsoever nicks me shall lay claim to this my arm. Its glory and riches shall be thine. But… thy champ must bind himself to this: should he land a blow, then one year and Yuletide hence, he must seek me out yonder to the Green Chapel six nights to the north. He shall find me there and bend a knee and let me strike him in return, be it a scratch on the cheek or a cut in the throat. I will return what was given me, and then in trust and friendship, we shall part. Who, then, who is willing to engage with me?” – Green Knight; Queen

I went into this without expectation and that’s probably the best way to see this.

This is a live-action adaptation of the 14th century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. It’s a story I always enjoyed, which I first discovered when I read J.R.R. Tolkien’s translation of it. There are other translations but it was the Tolkien one that I first discovered and experienced and it’s probably the only version I’ll ever revisit, unless someone can sell me on another one.

This is also the first adaptation of the poem in decades, at least that I am aware of. I saw the one with Sean Connery, years ago, and thought it was pretty weak. This version, was far superior to that one and what I just experienced is one of the best traditional fantasy motion pictures that I’ve seen in quite some time.

Dev Patel plays Sir Gawain and I thought he was fantastic. He’s also one hell of a strikingly good looking man. With that, he has the sort of regal and manly visage that made him look like he belonged at the table with King Arthur. In the story, he even gets to wield Excalibur for his first confrontation with the mythic Green Knight.

Patel truly carries this film on his back. Granted, he is backed up by a pretty talented cast. I especially liked Sean Harris as Arthur.

The film is very melodic and dreamlike. I wouldn’t say that it moves slow, it just enchants you, puts you in a strange trance and then pulls you along on this adventure. It works well and I liked the somewhat relaxed pacing, as you kind of need to marinate in the different sequences and take in the dialogue, the emotion and also the visually captivating cinematography.

The Green Knight feels otherworldly but it also feels familiar. As for Arthurian legends, it feels truly authentic and frankly, it’s one of the best King Arthur-related movies that I’ve ever seen.

Rating: 9/10

TV Review: Chucky (2021- )

Original Run: October 12th, 2021 – current
Created by: Don Mancini
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Based on: characters by Don Mancini
Music by: Joseph LoDuca
Cast: Zackary Arthur, Björgvin Arnarson, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Teo Briones, Brad Dourif, Jennifer Tilly, Fiona Dourif, Alex Vincent, Christine Elise, Lexa Doig, Devon Sawa, Barbara Alyn Woods, Michael Therriault

Pheidippides, David Kirschner Productions, Eat the Cat, Universal, Syfy, USA Network, 8 Episodes (so far), 45 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

I’ve been a fan of every Child’s Play/Chucky film that’s ever come out and featured the Brad Dourif version of the character. All the stuff that Don Mancini has done with his franchise has been solid and entertaining. I’ve loved seeing this evolve over almost thirty-five years now.

So I was a lot more enthused about this than I was the Child’s Play remake from a few years ago, despite my love of Aubrey Plaza. But like I said in that review, the doll and the concept were different enough that they shouldn’t have made it a Chucky movie, it should’ve been its own thing. And had it been, they could’ve done a killer doll crossover at some point. Hollywood is out of ideas, though. But at least someone in that town greenlit this series, regardless of the remake and how it sort of came and went then fizzled out. Are they even doing a sequel to that one? I have no idea.

Anyway, this television series picks up after the events of Cult of Chucky. With that, we revisit the interesting concepts and developments that film introduced. Making this a television series, instead of another 90 minute movie, was the best thing they could’ve done, as it gives the story enough time to explore its new creative avenues.

Just about all the characters from the past come back, as well, as that was something that Mancini started two movies ago.

The main characters in this series, however, are a group of middle school aged kids. They have their middle school aged problems and Chucky capitalizes on that in an effort to coach a kid into killing. The reason being, is that this will allow Chucky to use a new sort of voodoo magic that I won’t reveal because I don’t want to spoil too much of the show.

Ultimately, this is really fucking entertaining in the way that you’d expect but it also exceeded my expectations and subverted some, as well.

Obviously, you have to suspend disbelief quite a bit but if you’re able to, this is just a fun, ridiculous show with a beloved psycho.

Rating: 7.5/10

Book Review: ‘Indiana Jones and the White Witch’ by Martin Caidin

Martin Caidin’s previous Indiana Jones book wasn’t very good and I said as much in my review of it. This one is at least a bit better but it’s still much weaker than the earliest books in the series.

This one deals with Indy teaming up with a female archeologist (nothing new there) and a Wiccan priestess. They’re hunting treasure (no surprise there) and this ties back to some of the Merlin stuff from earlier books.

In this, Merlin’s sword is one of the MacGuffins. But hey, unlike the last book, at least there are MacGuffins and Indy isn’t pretending to be James Bond fighting a cheap knockoff of S.P.E.C.T.R.E.

The real problem with this, though, is that it’s dreadfully boring for the most part. These books don’t need to be over 300 pages. Frankly, they should be 150-200 page pulp novels. The reason being, the story is full of unnecessary bloat, as if the author is too in love with his own work.

I’m glad that Caidin only wrote two of these books and that this one is the last of them. He doesn’t understand the Indiana Jones franchise, the character and how the plots of these stories should be structured.

I read these books because I love the character and the movie formula so much. This offers nothing in that regard.

Rating: 5/10

TV Review: Doctor Who – The Twelfth Doctor Era (2014-2017)

Original Run: August 23rd, 2014 – December 25th, 2017
Created by: Sydney Newman, C. E. Webber, Donald Wilson
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Music by: Murray Gold
Cast: Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Alex Kingston, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas, Maisie Williams

BBC, 40 Episodes, 45-90 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

When Peter Capaldi was originally announced as the new Doctor on a television special, I was really optimistic and pretty damned pleased with the casting.

However, despite him being great and also being a pretty perfect Doctor, his material severely lacked when compared to what Matt Smith, David Tennant and Christopher Eccleston had to work with, before him.

Initially, I liked Clara a lot. However, she got terribly annoying by the end of her run as the Doctor’s companion. She started being a know-it-all and bossing the Doctor around, teaching him lessons. It got ridiculous and frankly, killed the show and everything that was once great about it. When she left after staying incredibly too long, I thought we’d get a cool, new companion.

In came Bill, a lesbian that you knew was a lesbian from the get go, that had to play up the lesbian thing so much, it’s all you really knew about her one note character. I thought that the actress, Pearl Mackie was okay, she was just given shit for material. I don’t care that she’s a lesbian and really, most people don’t. But when that is all your character is, you’re a shitty, basic character.

In the end, Bill actually got a compelling story but by then, it was too little, too late and she was gone.

There were also only a few really good episodes in this stretch. Most of them were either awful, boring or both. Usually, it was both.

You could tell that the budget was either cut or that the showrunners just didn’t want to put in much effort anymore, as many episodes were just characters trapped on a ship, or in a base or in some other basic facility with lots of hallways and control rooms of some sort.

There were some decent concepts and characters that popped in. I liked how the epic, long-running River Song story wrapped up. I also liked everything associated with Maisie Williams’ recurring character. However, these high spots were too far and few between and most of Capaldi’s run felt like monotonous filler.

However, things would only get exponentially worse once he left and we got the next Doctor.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: The Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Doctors’ runs.

Film Review: Berserk – The Golden Age Arc Trilogy (2012-2013)

Release Date: Part I: ….ber ..th, 2012; Part II: ….ber ..th, 2012; Part III: ….ber ..th, 2013
Directed by: Toshiyuki Kubooka
Written by: Ichiro Okouchi
Based on: Berserk by Kentaro Miura
Music by: Shiro Sagisu, Susumu Hirasawa
Cast: Hiroaki Iwanaga, Takahiro Sakurai, Toa Yukinari, Marc Diraison, Kevin T. Collins, Carrie Keranen

Studio 4°C, Madman Entertainment, Viz Media, Kazé UK, Lucent Pictures, 76 Minutes (Part I), 91 Minutes (Part II), 107 Minutes (Part III)

Review:

“Heed my words, Struggler. Soon a rain of blood, the likes of which you cannot imagine, shall fall down upon you. It will be a storm of death. But take heed, Struggler. Struggle, endure, contend. For that alone is the sword of one who defies death. Do not forget these words.” – Skull Knight

Since I watched the anime television series that served as a sequel to this first, I had a very different perspective going into this trilogy of anime films.

Being that I knew where these characters would end up, actually made me a lot more interested in how they got there, which is a place very far from where they start at the beginning of the first movie in this trilogy.

I also now have all the context regarding the three main characters in these films and it’s made me want to go back and watch the anime series again, as I think it’ll have even more of an impact.

I guess whatever order you watch these in is up to you and you probably should watch the animated Berserk material in order. If you’d prefer to do it that way, you should start with the original animated series from the late ’90s, which I actually haven’t seen yet. But I’m going to watch it in the next week or two, coming off of the high of this.

As far as these three films go, they’re pretty fucking exceptional.

The story and the relationships of the three main characters is what made this so great. A lot happens in these three films and by the end of them, you’re left exhausted and emotionally overloaded. And to be honest, I didn’t expect this to end with such an emotional punch to the gut.

It’s fucked up, tragic and you find yourself pretty fucking angry over what a particular character ends up doing to those you assumed he loved. Especially, after everything they went through together over a pretty long passage of time.

The animation is also pretty damn stellar. Overall, this looks better than the show that followed it.

As these three films rolled on, I wasn’t sure how all of this would pan out and whether or not there’d be a grand, worthwhile payoff. This exceeded any expectations I could have had for it and from my perspective, I’d call the entire body of work a masterpiece.

Rating: 10/10

Comic Review: Justice Society of America, Vol. 1: The Next Age

Published: June 24th, 2014
Written by: Geoff Johns
Art by: Dale Eaglesham

DC Comics, 128 Pages

Review:

After watching the first season of Stargirl on HBO Max, I figured that I’d give some of her more notable comics a read. Being that I really like Justice Society stuff and hadn’t read any in quite awhile, I figured I’d start with this.

The story starts with old Justice Society members trying to recruit new heroes, most of whom are descendants of previous members and have inherited their powers.

Because of that, Vandal Savage is using a team of Nazi supervillains to kill superheroes and their families in an effort to snuff out these bloodlines. However, he doesn’t see the bigger picture, which reveals itself by the end of this short story arc.

I’m a fan of Geoff Johns and dig so much of his DC Comics work. His Green Lantern run brought me back to comics on the DC side after a hiatus of about a decade, back in the mid-’00s.

Keeping with Johns’ style, this was a hell of a lot of fun to read and he once again showed that he’s really good at balancing a large ensemble of characters and letting them all develop and grow, despite having limited time to focus on each one.

This was an energetic and cool comic.

Frankly, I liked it enough to buy the next three volumes to read in the very near future.

Rating: 8/10

Film Review: The Scorpion King (2002)

Release Date: April 15th, 2002 (Netherlands – Fantastic Film Festival)
Directed by: Chuck Russell
Written by: Stephen Sommers, William Osborne, David Hayter, Jonathan Hales
Music by: John Debney
Cast: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Steven Brand, Kelly Hu, Bernard Hill, Grant Heslov, Peter Facinelli, Michael Clarke Duncan, Tyler Mane (uncredited)

BT Film, Alphaville Films, Universal Pictures, 92 Minutes

Review:

“Let me tell you, after a hard day of looting and pillaging, there is no greater city than Gomorrah… except maybe Sodom.” – Arpid

This was the first ’90s Mummy-related movie that I didn’t see in theaters and that’s mainly because it just didn’t interest me, even though I love The Rock and I love sword and sorcery flicks.

I was just turned off from how bad the Scorpion King character was presented at the end of The Mummy Returns and the trailers for this looked terrible.

Visually, I thought that this looked more like a TV production that had more in common with The Beastmaster TV show than something epic and cool like 1982’s Conan the Barbarian or the original and awesome Beastmaster movie.

I wasn’t wrong, as the finished product does feel like a television level production and that’s just one problem with it.

Beyond that, the story is cookie cutter shit. You never care about any of the characters or their situations in the film and that’s kind of an amazing feat, as Dawyne “The Rock” Johnson is one of the most charismatic people on the entire f’n planet. But somehow, this made him come off as boring and uninteresting.

I also never liked Steven Brand as the villain, as he just didn’t look like a guy that could remotely be a threat to The Rock. In the movie, his character is smaller and he’s just a dude that’s really good with swords.

I truly wish that this would’ve been The Rock’s Conan and that we’d get sword and sorcery movies with him in it every few years. However, this is a dud in every way.

But hey, at least it was better than that third Mummy movie.

Rating: 4.5/10

Comic Review: Thor: The Deviants Saga

Published: July 25th, 2012
Written by: Robert Rodi
Art by: Stephen Segovia

Marvel Comics, 114 Pages

Review:

I missed this back when it came out but I looked forward to reading it, as I loved the original Thor and Eternals mega-event from the ’70s and because this came out on the heels of a great Thor run by J. Michael Straczynski (reviewed here).

However, I was pretty underwhelmed by this and even though it featured a pretty cool battle or two, the story had really disjointed pacing.

Sometimes this dragged and then sometimes it felt rushed.

It’s not a bad story and I did enjoy it for the most part but it also seems pretty forgettable and lacks the impact that previous Thor/Eternals stories have had.

This also features Ka-Zar, which was cool, as I enjoy that character, but it just seemed like a glorified cameo the writer wanted to work in.

The art in this is really good and it represents a time when Marvel was still giving work to the best artists out there. Tonally, it felt like everything else that branched out of the Straczynski run.

All in all, if you’re actually an Eternals fan, this isn’t a bad read and considering there isn’t a lot of Eternals material, compared to other Marvel heroes and teams, I guess you take what you can. Although, the important Eternals don’t even show up until the end.

Rating: 6/10